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November 2006
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Nvidia 7900GS and ASRock corruption

Well this is causing me alot of grief but I can’t track down where the problem lies. Currently asking Nvidia and ASRock for help. Most of this entry is from my support requests to them:

I’m experiencing _dreadful_ 3D corruption with a new 7900GS in a new “Asrock Conroe XFire eSata” motherboard. I’ve spent about 2 weeks trying this and that and the other. I’m interested in your opinion. 2D is fine, but 3D doesn”t work – I’ve tried about 10 drivers in total (old, current, beta) in both XP and Vista. In Oblivion (fully patched) I get the odd line or bad corruption:

I swapped with a 9750GX2 in a shuttle SFF and my card worked fine in that and his card work find in the ASRock.

I’ve tried halo and that seems okay

I’ve tried on XP: 91.33, 91.47, 95.97 (quadroplex), 93.50 (guru3d)
On Vista RC2 (64-bit) I”ve tried 96.33 and 96.85.

92.91 hasn’t helped. I should point out that it’s typically the 2nd intro scene (where some soldiers are stood in front of a helicopter that gets corruption. The frame rate also plumets to say 1fps. Then it can “lock”, but occasionally if I move the mouse or just wait it might come back.

Oblivion 1.1 is set to 1024×768, rest at defaults (ultra high :-) ), AA is off, HDR is on.

FEAR 1.07 breaks at 1024×768 with AA=off, AF (assuming that’s texture filtering)=4x, vsync=off

same with AA=4x, AF=4x, vsync=off

with AA=off, AF=4x, vsync=off things seem a little better, still get corruption and horrific frame rates from time to time (disk is kicking in then…)

When I exit FEAR after a crash, the “windows desktop flickers” issue is when new graphics are displayed – for example if I move a window, or click on a menu. If I do nothing then it doesn’t flicker at all. All this is really wierd behaviour to me but I’m hoping that it might give you a clue :-)

Upon exiting FEAR after corruption, XP desktop is badly corrupted as well – it also flickers (or my CRT loses sync) every few seconds. Core2 Duo CPU, Matrix RAID setup.

It’s an ASRock ConRoeXFire-eSATA2, latest 1.60 BIOS.

I’ve also just tried installing a “no-CD” patch to FEAR and trying without the DVD-RW plugged in at all – this hasn’t made a difference.

I’ve now disabled the onboard sound (realtek) – no difference (although it stuffs up FEAR’s timing). I’ve also found an old PCI turtle beach graphics card and used that. Again no change (some people have said the realtek on board sound can cause problems).

The machine is using the onboard “Matrix RAID” from Intel (ICH7 chipset). I intend to remove the current SATA RAID-1 (mirror) disks and use an old IDE disk to see if that”s the cause (I don’t believe so since everything except 3D is fine). 1GB RAM ATM installed (1GB still sat on top for debugging!) Update: I’ve now tried with an old IDE disk, no RAID. same problem

I’ve booted into Linux and done a byte-by-byte comparison of the two disks – they are identical. no SMART errors. I”ve just reinstalled FEAR (in case it had been corrupted somehow) and that’s not helped (FEAR installed directX aug06 (I think it was 06). I’ve reapplied directX oct06 and still the same corruption.

2D is fine, cpu and memory tests run for 30mins no problems. 600W expensive PSU should be fine, cpu, memory, gfx card all barely warm at all , northbridge heatsink pretty hot (couldn’t leave fingers on it).

I’ve applied the the DualCore patch to no avail. I had previously tried setting processor affinity to one CPU and that had no effect. I’m also set the /usepmtimer boot.ini option and that hasn”t helped either.

I’ve also tried HKey_Local_Machine\\SYSTEM\\CurrentControlSet\\Control\\Video\\{guid}\\0000 and setting both OGL_ThreadControl to 2 (which it was – I had disabled this via the nvidia controlpanel earlier) and WTD_EXECMODEL to 0.

Update
I’ve tried swapping with a 7300GS and that card seemed okay, however we did see two stray lines at one one in the FEAR intro, then one line the next time we tried it. No corruption, no hangs.

The interesting thing is when we tried my gfx card in his machine, halfway through the driver install, the box rebooted. At this point I noticed that my friend hadn”t noticed the PCIe power connector. His motherboard didn’t have such a connector so I powered it from my machine (which I switched on). The same thing happened – even trying three different drivers the machine would reboot in during the driver install (he has a 500W PSU and ASUS motherboard). We put his 7300GS card back in, upgraded the drivers, swapped my card back in and tried FEAR. “Unable to initialise 3D” or somesuch as a dialog box.

Final update
RMA’d the card and got an 8800GTS – no problems :D

But then I lost the right front channel from the motherboard :-(