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Crashing 3870 in some 3d applications

jmmyz14

Member
Jul 11, 2008
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My HTPC is currently running an Athlon 64 X2 4200+, ati hd3870, 4gb ddr and win7 x64home. On "lesser" powered games, it is running fine (Trine, Torchlight, Zombies vs Plants, etc.) but when I fire up other games like WoW or Borderlands, it crashes.

Not just a atidiagmk driver crash that cards always get, but a BSOD. In the couple of seconds before the BSOD, I can hear the sound still working.

I am wondering, is this likely an issue with the power supply? The system is currently running on an old 450W Coolmax I had lying around.

Another potential problem could be the Socket 939 board I'm running, and the PCIe slot may not be running at full speed since it's simply too old.

I'm tempted to just chuck out the 3870 and buy a 9800gt. I've had nothing but problems with that 3870 ever since I bought it.

Thanks for any insight you can give me.
 

v8envy

Platinum Member
Sep 7, 2002
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I am wondering, is this likely an issue with the power supply? The system is currently running on an old 450W Coolmax I had lying around.
More likely than not capacitor aging combined with an optimistic power rating (and possibly a PSU designed to provide juice mainly on 5v?) means you're trying to run your hardware on < 200 watts.

Try firing up prime95 and furmark at once. See what happens. On second thought, don't.
 

Denithor

Diamond Member
Apr 11, 2004
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Do you have another "known good" PSU you could swap for testing? 450W should be plenty but Coolmax isn't exactly one of the top tier producers so who knows.
 

SunnyD

Belgian Waffler
Jan 2, 2001
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I'm going to vote PSU as well. Also, if it's a small case, you might want to check cooling and maybe vacuum out any dust that has accumulated.
 

jmmyz14

Member
Jul 11, 2008
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The case is an Antec Sonata. I've ran the card on my main PC's PSU before (700w OCZ) and it was working but with numerous atidiag driver reboots, but that was a year ago. That's when I decided to get myself a 260+ and throw this 3870 in the HTPC.

It may be an issue with the card itself. My 3870 fan was never spinning up very fast. I've tried flashing the video card's bios with a "fanfix bios" but it might not work properly. If I remember correctly, the 3870's had some notorious fan problems.

Now that you mention it, I think it may be a cooling problem as well. I can play Borderlands longer if I boot the computer up and play right away, and the card stays "cool" longer.

Thanks to your input, I am leaning towards tossing the 3870 and picking up a 9800GT. It would be nice to have Flash acceleration anyway, something the 3870 lacks. This is my HTPC afterall
 
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jmmyz14

Member
Jul 11, 2008
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I went out and picked up a 9800GT at a local shop for $110. If the problem persists, at least I can throw it into my main gaming PC and use it for PhysX.

In that case I'll be picking up a new PSU from newegg for main PC and moving that 700w OCZ into my HTPC. 700w in my HTPC is a bit overkill for the current components, but thinking ahead towards future upgrades it may not be a bad idea.
 

wwswimming

Banned
Jan 21, 2006
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I am wondering, is this likely an issue with the power supply? The system is currently running on an old 450W Coolmax I had lying around.

Another potential problem could be the Socket 939 board I'm running, and the PCIe slot may not be running at full speed since it's simply too old.

I'm tempted to just chuck out the 3870 and buy a 9800gt. I've had nothing but problems with that 3870 ever since I bought it.

Thanks for any insight you can give me.
i have the Sapphire 3870 with a 650 watt Seasonic. though i probably don't exercise the video card the way you do.

normally i would say, "don't blame the video card" - it sounds like your system is under-powered, the power supply that is. but since you're into gaming, which REALLY exercises the video card ...

if you got $80 to spend - new power supply.

if you got $200 to spend - new power supply + new video card.
 

jmmyz14

Member
Jul 11, 2008
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Just to update everyone:

I installed the 9800GT yesterday and it's working great with my existing 450W Coolmax PSU. Played Borderlands for about an hour with no crashing.

I've deduced the possibilities to:
1.) 9800GT is significantly more energy efficient (possible since the box states a recommended 400W only)
2.) 9800GT has better cooling (doubtful since the 3870 was an HIS IceQ3 heatpipe dual slot and this 9800GT is merely a single slot cooler) or
3.) Nvidia just has overall more bullet proof drivers (this is reflected in my personal experience)
4.) the 3870 has a defective chip/shader somewhere (unlikely since some 3d games work just fine like Trine, Torchlight, etc. while others crash consistently- Gears of War, Borderlands, WoW)

Anyway, I've now got a spare 3870 lying around. I'll try selling it and making a note to the buyer that they may want a good quality PSU.
 
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