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Windows 7: Bad GPU? Freezing, black screen, and graphic artifacts.

23 Jul 2013   #1

Windows 7 64 bit
 
 
Bad GPU? Freezing, black screen, and graphic artifacts.

Hello.

Recently my hp pavilion dm4 with switchable radeon 5000 series gpu has started acting funny.

It started months ago with poor performance in streaming videos online when the radeon was activated (dubbed "hi performance" in the OS.) This problem seemed to get better after reinstalling Windows back in March or April and using canned air to clean the innards of dust.

However, about a week ago while playing a game, the screen froze up and the computer rebooted. Upon restart, I got a message saying the video driver had crashed and was incompatible with the catalyst control center (not exactly sure what that is, but I installed several different driver versions to no avail.)
The computer continues crashing in this way, and often will show bars or a checker pattern on the screen before freezing. To make matters worse, a good percentage of the time, the screen will remain black upon startup. I've tried reinstalling the OS, and thankfully was able to boot in safe mode and back up all of the files I needed. I'm tempted to rule out malware as a cause due to the fact that the problem persists after reinstalling Windows.

I have used canned air to blow out all the fans, and have kept up with that habit pretty well since I started experiencing the slowness in video playback. I have not noticed any extreme overheating since I amended the initial problem earlier this year.

I'm ready to spend a small amount on fixing this, but I'm also pretty ready to upgrade to a MacBook Pro or iMac since I have started using Photoshop and a drawing tablet to illustrate digitally. I wanted to get a good background knowledge on what to expect before I bring it in to get an official diagnosis. Any input is greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Jake

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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23 Jul 2013   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1
 
 

Since you have done a (clean?) install of Windows 7, that eliminates a lot of common problems. You can certainly stop thinking about viruses.

I have a couple of questions:
  • Where did you get the video driver(s) for the laptop when you did the reinstall? From the HP website only, or did you use the driver package from ATI? In the early days of dual graphics, the driver package was for both graphics chips and available only from the laptop manufacturer. Using the package from ATI would cause problems.
  • What happens if you disable the Hi-Performance graphics (in Device Manager)? Yes, your video performance will drop, but does that make the artifacts and freezing stop? This test is to try and isolate the problem graphics chip.
  • Does this behavior happen only on battery, or when the battery and power supply are both connected? What happens if you run on the power supply only and remove the battery completely?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Jul 2013   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate Retail Box (64-bit installed) + Service Pack 1
 
 

Welcome to sevenforums, please visit this:

System Info - See Your System Specs

DM4 comes in many versions, please be more specific.

Catalyst is the front end for AMD settings/drivers.

Is yours Radeon or Radeon HD, big difference.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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24 Jul 2013   #4

Windows 7 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by TVeblen View Post
Since you have done a (clean?) install of Windows 7, that eliminates a lot of common problems. You can certainly stop thinking about viruses.

I have a couple of questions:
  • Where did you get the video driver(s) for the laptop when you did the reinstall? From the HP website only, or did you use the driver package from ATI? In the early days of dual graphics, the driver package was for both graphics chips and available only from the laptop manufacturer. Using the package from ATI would cause problems.
  • What happens if you disable the Hi-Performance graphics (in Device Manager)? Yes, your video performance will drop, but does that make the artifacts and freezing stop? This test is to try and isolate the problem graphics chip.
  • Does this behavior happen only on battery, or when the battery and power supply are both connected? What happens if you run on the power supply only and remove the battery completely?
1.) I did get the drivers from ATI prior to reinstalling 7.
3.)The problem exists regardless of whether the laptop is plugged in.

I started with step 2 with some success so far. When I booted in safe mode to attempt to disable the hi performance graphics, the device manager implied that there were indeed problems with the ATI Chip. So far so good, although it's only been about 30 minutes since I disabled it.

Faladu, sorry for the lack of specificity. When I posted the thread I was not around my laptop so I wasn't sure on its exact model number and specs. It's a dm4 1200 series, running a Radeon 6370, an i5 processor and 4 GB Ram. Not sure if its HD or not, since that chip is now disabled it doesn't show up when i run dxdiag.

My last question is whether or not it's possible to enable the ATI card after disabling it? It no longer shows up under device manager and I want to make sure that it's still accessible if it turns out to not be the problem.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Jul 2013   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1
 
 

Re 1) You might want to go to the laptop's website and find and download the graphics drivers offered there. Later (after doing the other tests) you can install that driver - even though it may be older - to see if it works better.

Re 3) That test is to see if the battery is a problem, so just make sure you do this by removing the battery and using only the power supply.

RE 2) If that test continues to show no problems, then you have determined the problem is with the ATI graphics chip. Then we can focus our attention there and not get sidetracked.

If you Disabled the device - and not Uninstalled - then yes it can be easily restored simply by clicking "Enable Device".
However, whenever I disable a device in Device Manager the device does not disappear from the list, it remains there with a warning symbol on it.
If the ATI adapter really disappeared from the list after disabling it then that could be evidence of the type of problem you are having.

You can (usually) also enable and disable the secondary graphics device in the systems BIOS/UEFI settings. There is a possibility that when you disabled the device in Windows it also disabled it in BIOS/UEFI, but that should not happen as far as I know.
This behavior could be an indication that there is something wrong with the device on the hardware side of things - rather than the software/drivers side of things.

Continue with the test for at least a day and then we can talk about where to go next. If the problems start up again with the secondary graphics disabled then post back right away.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Jul 2013   #6

Windows 7 64 bit
 
 

Some new developments lead me to be almost certain that my problem lies with the ATI graphics chip.

I wanted to try to install an updated driver as you said in step 2 (since my PC was currently running the original drivers from the out-of-box state I thought trying a NEW version may help) This seemed to throw a wrench in all the smoothness I had attained earlier. After restarting for the driver update the screen was just black (the usual symptom) and even when I would disable the ATI gpu the symptoms persisted. I did a system restore back to earlier this morning before updating the driver.

It seems like it's finally back to how I had it before, but it seems like my laptop just doesn't like not having that dang ATI chip disabled. Every time I restart and check my device management control panel, the thing has been enabled automatically. When I tried to uninstall the device, the system just reinstalled it on its own, which IMMEDIATELY started bugging out my system again.

I'm content to just run the laptop indefinitely with just the integrated graphics. That should hold me over until I can just replace the machine with something new, I just need to shut down the discrete graphics for good, since that is clearly the problem in my eyes.

Thanks for the help so far. Seems we're getting closer to that.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Jul 2013   #7

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1
 
 

If you want to disable the graphics chip so it does not come back do it in BIOS settings.
Do you know how to get into the BIOS settings? (or UEFI settings, if the laptop is new enough to use that instead)
Go to the tab that has the Onboard Devices Configuration. That is usually where you will find it.

The chip could still be OK. It could be just that it doesn't like the driver. Have you tried the graphics driver package from HP?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Jul 2013   #8

64-Bit W7 Ult_sp1
 
 

- how did you remove the faulty ATI driver, was it via Control Panel/Programs & Features/uninstall..??
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Jul 2013   #9

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Ultimate X64 SP1
 
 

It would be a good idea to monitor GPU temps with GPUz. GPU-Z Video card GPU Information Utility

Are you using the laptop on a soft surface that can block the air vents and cause over heating?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Bad GPU? Freezing, black screen, and graphic artifacts.





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