Saturday, April 03, 2010

Graphics card dies

One of the computers in our house (Dell Dim 9200 with 2GB RAM, nVidia GeForce 7900 GS, 2x250GB HDD) started to behave strangely.
The monitor (LCD/DVI Dell 2007 WFP) would go into Power Saving Mode seconds into the boot and not emerge.
Then, for no obvious reason, it started to boot as normal for a few days.
Subsequently, back to Power Saving Mode only.
Googling suggested that a spent CMOS battery might be the problem (although no problem with the system clock was noticed). Nevertheless, I changed the Lithium 2032 and booting started again, but only for a day or two.
Then I went through all the Dell hardware diagnostics.
The only problem indicated was a 5300:0119 error which arose on the Video Memory test suggesting the graphics card was on its last legs.
Opened up the computer and took out the GeForce 7900 GS and found the fan to be quite dusty and smelling of burning. So, looks like the fan burned out causing overheating and failure of at least one essential part of the card.
Solution was to buy a PNY GeForce 210 (with 512 MB rather than the 256 MB on the 7900 GS).
This cost €128 including delivery although I saw the same card available in the USA for around US$50.
Very easy to install although the new card was significantly smaller than the one it replaced. Also, one six pin plug that hooked up to the old card, now had no corresponding socket on the new card.
Nevertheless, the new card worked perfectly with a noticeably sharper display.
Now, as I had removed the Raid 0 configuration on the HDDs and wiped the Vista OS, I now had to embark on a complete refurbishment of this resurrected computer.
This lead to interesting experiences with Dell BIOS setup unlocking, Vista freezing and slow booting.
I'll post about these in the next day or two.

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