New ATI Troubleshooting by Infinity7

Discussion in 'Links' started by Infinity7, Dec 5, 2003.

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  1. Infinity7

    Infinity7 Guest

    ATI Troubleshooting Part 1

    Points covered in part 1:

    1) Power hog, power supplies, surge protectors
    2) Removing previous video card & drivers
    3) Y adaptor for power harness, Minidumps & Blue Screens
    4) Virtual Memory Settings in Windows XP
    5) Staggering in games
    6) Critical Installation Order
    7) Conflicting Devices and Programs

    1) Power hog, power supplies, surge protectors. The more recent ATI video cards are really power hogs compared to cards of the past and more attention is needed to make the whole system is going to stay stable. It is recommended to have a very good quality power supply of 350 watts or greater for your system. Not all power supplies are created equal. I have seen some instances of new ATI cards becoming bad very quickly by trying to run them with poor quality power supplies. Try to get a power supply that has at least 15 Amps along the 12 volt rail. Check out the power supply specs. One of the most highly regarded power supplies is the Antec True Power or True Blue. Also try to use a high quality surge protector power strip to plug your system into. Do not use a cheap power strip. The more expensive power strips have a higher joules rating and may have some line-conditioning abilities.

    2) Removing previous video card & drivers. ATI now has a utility found in their drivers that automatically removes all previous ATI drivers from your system. Use their utility if you can to do this job. In the past one had to do a manual uninstallation of previous drivers. To remove previous drivers of other brands of video cards consult the latest information from the manufacturer or the appropriate forums for that card. Old method of manually uninstalling ATI drivers is at the end of this article.

    3) Y Adaptor for power harness, Minidumps, Blue Screens. ATI now provides a Y adaptor that comes in the card's box to help hook up the power harness to your video card. It is best to use this Y adaptor. If you have a RAID setup go to the computer store buy a second Y adaptor for your power harness so that you can have both hard drives sharing the power with the card. I went through about 25 reformats of my system to prove the importance of this. Do NOT assume that ATI only provided the Y adaptor for you to use only if you do not have enough plugs on your power harness. Because of the power this card draws there may be a problem if the power to your video card is not in synchronization with the power to your hard drive. Your hard drive might not save all files it needs to before shutdown. Your system may not shut down properly even just once maybe after a system lockup or freeze during a game, or software installation, or Windows defrag, Windows might give a blue screen error mentioning IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL and Windows says it has recovered from a serious error and wants to send info to Microsoft. Or Windows might report that a minidump has occurred and want to send details to Microsoft. After you have gotten such an error, even if you can still seemingly still continue on with Windows you might still lock up or crash or reboot and anytime you attempt to defrag your hard drive you again get the blue screen error or a minidump. You also might get errors like this if you go changing your Virtual Memory Settings in Windows XP (see point 4 below).

    If your Windows XP operating system files get messed up due to this try one of these things:

    a) Boot up to your Windows XP cd, let the cd start loading up files like it is going to reinstall Windows, but you're NOT going to let it do that. After it loads up the files there will be an option to Recover Windows by pressing r (this is NOT same as reinstalling Windows). Press r then choose the partition your operating system is on, and at the Command Prompt type "chkdsk /r" (do NOT use the quotes, and there is a space before the /). Then press Enter and let it scan the operating system files and if it finds files not as they should be it will automatically fix them.

    b) Second way to fix your operating system files is to go into Control Panel into the Users section (in Windows XP) and create a new user with a different user name than yours and make sure that user name has administrator privileges. Then reboot your system and log on to that new user name and go Start/Run and type in "chkdsk /r" (do NOT use the quotes, and there is a space before the /) and press Enter and let the scan find and automatically fix any errors it finds. After this scan has finished you can always reboot, then log on by your original user name then go delete the new user name you had created to do this fix.

    4) Virtual Memory Settings in Windows XP. In operating systems previous to Windows XP there were popular tweaks people would do increase game performance by changing the default settings for Virtual Memory or by putting the swap file on a different hard drive. I was doing those tweaks when I was using NVidia cards and they worked great. But as soon as I had gotten that 9700 pro and tried those same Virtual Memory tweaks in Windows XP it caused BIG problems. I tried a number of experiments with the Virtual Memory settings in Windows XP and crashed and severely corrupted XP system files a few times and came to a definite conclusion. If you have one of these ATI cards and Windows XP it is best NOT to go messing around with the default Virtual Memory settings. Leave the Processor Scheduling and Memory Usage radio buttons both set to "Adjust for best performance of PROGRAMS" as they are set to by default. Do not go changing the Virtual Memory size, or if you do then don't go changing it by very much. If you go changing these things you might see symptoms happen as described in point 3 above. You could very well end up with having to reinstall Windows XP if you go changing these things. Besides, it runs fantastic with the default settings anyway.

    5) Staggering in games. If you have staggering in your game it may be caused by:

    a) Not having installed drivers on your system following the rules of Critical Installation Order or
    b) Not having removed all previous drivers from your system before installing the new ones or
    c) Having Antialiasing set too high or by having the Hardware Acceleration on your sound card set too high for that particular game or your sound card drivers are not up-to-date.
    d) Having your Windows operating system files already messed up by the problem described in point 3 above.
    e) Background Windows tasks such as virus scan or defragging or Windows Update or virus update automatically starting unexpectedly during your game.
    f) Spyware files on your system (use SpyBot or Ad-aware programs on the web to remove them).

    6) Critical Installation Order to keep your system the fastest is:

    a) Install Windows
    b) Install any BIOS updates.
    c) Install any Windows Service Packs and Critical Windows Updates
    d) Install the correct chipset drivers (such as Via 4-in-one drivers or Intel inf updates) that the manufacturer of your motherboard recommends
    e) Install DirectX (some say to do this step after step e as well)
    f) Install video card driver and sound card driver and all other device drivers
    g) Install Intel Application Accelerator (only if you have a motherboard with Intel chipset). Some people are finding its better not to use the Intel Application Accelerator, so you could skip that one if you wanted.

    The most important of these above is to make sure you do step d BEFORE you do steps e and f and g. Failure to do this will result in much slower system and game performance. If you ever update those motherboard chipset drivers again at a later date be sure you uninstall your video and sound drivers first and boot up in Safe mode to install the chipset drivers then after that is done you can put your video card and sound card drivers back in.

    7) Conflicting Devices or Programs. Try to avoid plugging any PCI card into the slot below your AGP video card. This is because usually the PCI slot immediately below the video card shares the same IRQ as your video card, which is not a good idea. You may have problems if you use any macro keyboards or possibly certain USB devices or hubs and also you may have some gaming problems if you try to use live voice chat programs that use Direct Sound at the same time as your game. Also your Windows Messenger or ICQ might flash an alert in the middle of your game and cause a disruption of your gameplay.

    See Part 2 for more Troubleshooting.

  2. Infinity7

    Infinity7 Guest

    ATI Troubleshooting Part 2

    Points covered:

    8) Adjusting AGP Voltages on your motherboard
    9) Graphics Aperture Size
    10) Fragmentation
    11) Getting maximum frame rate
    12) Disabling Write Combining
    13) Phone calls to ATI Support

    8) Adjusting AGP Voltages on your Motherboard. Since the video card is a power hog some people have found they can keep the whole system more stable electrically by increasing or decreasing the voltage to the AGP slot by a small amount in the BIOS or by a jumper on their motherboard. Not everybody's BIOS has such a setting and not everybody's motherboard has such a jumper. You run some risks by doing such a thing. You could burn up the video card. I've never found that it is necessary to change the AGP voltage and don't recommend it, although some people will say it is a good idea and have had some success by doing this. You choose for yourself.

    9) Graphics Aperture Size. Usually the BIOS for your system has a setting to adjust the Graphics Aperture Size. Usually it is recommended to set it to twice the amount of system RAM you have, or if you have greater than 512 MB RAM then just pick the highest number choice. However, your system might stay more stable if you reduce the Graphics Aperture Size to one of the lower number choices. Reducing AGP speed or hardware acceleration on your video card can sometimes make a system more stable if you need more stability.

    10) Fragmentation. If you're a gamer be sure to defragment your hard drive often. The program called Diskeeper can defragment your hard drive in under one minute if you do it every day. It is very much faster than the standard Windows defrag utility. This will help keep your game performance great.

    11) Getting Maximum Frame Rate in Games. To get the best frame per second in games try to make the resolution and colors and refresh rate of your Windows desktop the exact same as the resolution and colors and refresh rate that you have your game set at. Games run faster by turning Antialiasing off and by reducing resolution and the graphics quality settings in both Windows controls and in the in-game settings.

    12) Disabling Write Combining. Some people have found that if you disable Write Combining, which is found in Windows XP at Control Panel/Display/Settings/Advanced/Troubleshooting tab, and then move the Hardware Acceleration slider to none, and then click the button to unselect "Enable Write Combining" that this will reduce the chance of errors as described in point 3 above. Doing this will slow your performance a bit. It is probably NOT necessary for you to do this to get the system stable. I prefer not to do this tweak myself.
    13) Phone Calls to ATI Support. Be very careful about calling ATI Support for issues with your video card, not because they are not good at it, but because they are in Canada and you might be running up a phone bill that is a whole lot larger than what you might expect. My phone bill came out to $250 that first month with my card and I was not on the phone very long. Never mind about this if you are rich or live in Canada.

    For your reference, the procedure that used to be used in the past for manually uninstalling ATI drivers was:

    a) Boot into Safe mode (hold down shift or press F8 during bootup and select)
    b) Go into Device Manager (in System in Control Panel) and remove any items under Display Adaptors. Usually there are 2 listed there.
    c) Close Device Manager but DO NOT REBOOT when it gives the option.
    d) Go into Add/Remove Programs (in Control Panel) and remove ATI Multimedia Center (if you have it), and any ATI entries other than ATI Display Driver. Close Add/Remove Programs but DO NOT REBOOT yet.
    e) Go back into Device Manager, and remove any ATI drivers under Sound, Video and Game Controllers (these present if you have had All In Wonder cards)
    f) Open up Windows Explorer and delete any ATI folders in your C drive and also in Program Files in your C drive. Close Windows Explorer.
    g) Go into your Windows Registry (Go Start/Run and type regedit) and click Registry and export the Registry to a file, so as to back it up
    h) Open the folder HKEY_CURRENT_USER, open Software section and remove any ATI entries
    i) Open the folder HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, open Software section and remove any ATI entries
    j) Close registry and any open windows and reboot system up into Standard VGA mode (hold down shift or press F8 during bootup and select) before installing your new drivers.

  3. David Deed

    David Deed Don Alfa Terga Inconiti

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