George V. Reilly

When Video Cards Go Bad

Blown Capacitors

I complained a week ago about my display driver going berserk. I blamed Windows Update, since it happened within hours of a pile of updates being installed. I upgraded to the latest beta NVidia drivers on Monday and it helped for a while, but by Wednesday, it was almost as bad again as it had been last Friday. It was in­fu­ri­at­ing and I was both en­ter­tain­ing and alarming my neighbors with my cursing.

Today was the last day of a very busy sprint for me and at last I had the time to dig into it. I opened up the case and took a look at both video cards—I have two dual-head cards connected to three mon­i­tors—and one of them had partially blown capacitors like those in the picture. I removed the bad card and did some graphics-intensive things for an hour, and the other card behaved flawlessly.

Oddly, until someone mentioned that it might be a hardware problem yesterday, it didn’t occur to me, even though a video card blew in this machine last year. I came in one morning to find a black monitor, and when I pulled out that card, I found that some of the capacitors had popped right open with stuffing protruding.

On general principles, I had been meaning to repave this machine for a while. I’ve had it since December 2007 and it was still running the original in­stal­la­tion of Vista. I booted from a DVD, re­for­mat­ted my C: drive, and installed Windows 7 x64 RC1.

I finally have a 64-bit OS as my primary Windows desktop, so I’ll actually be using the Win64 build of Vim that I maintain. My first im­pres­sions of Windows 7 on this machine are very favorable, but there’s plenty more that I need to install before the machine has everything that I need.

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