Every time I play a game, I get the frozen-screen treatment—sometimes right away, sometimes a few hours in. I get a weird checkerboard pattern on the screen and I can’t Alt+F4, Ctrl-Alt-Del, or anything else but a hard restart to get back to Windows. I’m running 32-bit Windows Vista, an AMD Athlon 64 6000+, a Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 Vapor-X, 4GB Kingston Hyper-X RAM, and two 1TB hard drives, all inside an Antec Nine Hundred case. I’ve tried running with the side of the case off and a fan blowing on the card, even though with the case closed I get cool air out of the back, so I doubt heat is the issue. I’ve reinstalled video drivers countless times and the forums don’t seem to be much help since I haven’t seen a thread describing the same error I get.
Chris, the 4870 videocards are notorious for heat issues—even your intrepid Doctor has suffered from overheating-related crashes whenever the weather gets too warm, no matter how much airflow his GPU gets. The Vapor-X versions are supposed to be less susceptible to overheating given their larger fans, but we’ve still heard of them overheating. One solution we’ve found is to go into the Catalyst Control Center and manually increase the fan speed—we’ve found that 60 percent fan speed, though it sounds like a jet engine, will do the trick. Although heat is likely the issue, one thing you didn’t mention was your power supply. A power supply that is going bad and not providing enough voltage to the graphics card could also be the source of your problem.
SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION Are flames shooting out of the back of your rig? First, grab a fire extinguisher and douse the flames. Once the pyrotechnic display has fizzled, email the doctor at email@example.com for advice on how to solve your technological woes.