When I first purchased the ATI 1900GT Video Card I had no idea what I was going to be in store for 6 months down the road. I would have thought when you forked out around $400 Canadian for a video card you would get something that should at least last several years problem free, guess I was wrong….

Let me start from the begging of this little journey. Several weeks ago I decided I would take a look at the Real Time Strategy game company of heroes. Prior to me getting company of heroes I had no video problems at all with this computer. I had played a few games and none of them had any video issues at all.

So when I finally did get company of heroes installed I was excited to see how this new game would play. I didn’t get to far into the game when I started to notice what looked to me like texture tearing. Instead of trying to explain it, below you can see some screen shots of what I mean. When I seen this texture tearing I started to think of what you would see if the video card was over clocked. In my case I new the card was a stock card and I never touched the gpu or the memory speed on the video card. When I seen the tearing I wondered if the video card might be over heating but after checking that out I determined the card was fine and was working within the proper temperature range.

What made this problem even more hard to determine what was the cause, was the fact sometimes I could play for a while and not have any problems at all then all of a sudden I would see the texture tearing again.

Figuring that this video card and computer system were not very old I decided the problem had to be game related. So for the next few days I tried searching on google for people having the same sort of problem I was with the game company of heroes but I wasn’t getting much luck with that search.

The odd thing about this texture tearing was the fact it was only doing this when you had a 3D game going. As far as my desktop and any 2d stuff there was no problems at all there. Where I really started to think it was hardware related was when I started to see now a second game start to have video issues and this time it was with the game EVE-ONLINE. This game I had been playing for a while and never seen anything wrong at all. Now all of a sudden in EVE-ONLINE I’m getting a graphical glitch where it would look like big polygons would be flashing on the screen.

Once again with EVE-ONLINE this problem at first would only happen once in a while. There was one point in time after I did a drive format that I played EVE-ONLINE with 3 accounts all loaded up at once and played like that for almost a day and not one problem at all. The very next day though I was back to the same old graphical issue in EVE-ONLINE.

The final game where I noticed the texture tearing was a MOD for the game Battlefield2 called project reality and by this point in time I was getting quite pissed off over the issue.

Still hoping it wasn’t a hardware problem as I mentioned before I did format the machine and did a reinstall of windows XP. After doing the format I tried at least 4 different ATI drivers that ranged from version 6.10 all the way to 7.2 I even tried the Omega driver. None of this made any difference at all I still had the texture tearing going on in the games.

What finally sealed it for me that it was in fact a hardware only thing was one time after doing a reboot I noticed one of the ASCII character’s on boot up screen was screwed up and you can see what I’m referring to below in the screen shot. After noticing this I was sorta happy in way because it was at least letting me know that my problem was NOT software related and that was a good thing.

The next thing I noticed was I have a three and half inch floppy with Memtest on it that I was running to see if by chance I had some more bad ram because I have already had one 1 gig stick go bad on me. While running Memtest from its boot floppy I noticed one of the characters on its display was showing up in a cyan color and all the other text was normal.

So by now I’m totally convinced this is indeed a hardware only problem but now the question is this, what hardware is the cause of the problem? Graphical glitches like this can be caused by numerous things. The biggest problem I had was the computer system the video card was in, was a new system and wasn’t 6 months old, and the bigger problem was it was all PCI-Express based for the video card. Do to the fact this was my first PCI-Express based system I didn’t have any spare PCI-Express video cards or even another PCI-Express mother board to swap out and do tests.

After trying to re seat basically everything in the computer such as the ram video card and cpu to make sure there was no funky connections, I finally was at my wits end because the video problems were still there. Over time these video problems were getting worse as well as you can see in the next screen shot you can see on the boot up screen there are small white dots all over the place.

It was at this point in time I had to bite the bullet and decided what I was going to replace first. I really don’t like trouble shooting stuff by buying new parts because it can get costly fast, but I had no choice. So I figured I would replace the video card first and prey that would solve the issue.

The gods must have taken pity on me that day because I went out and picked up a new Geforce 7950 GT/OC from BFG and all my problems have vanished.

Now I have to ship the video card back to ATI and pay for the shipping for the Video Card to get there, and they will no doubt replace it.

Despite having gone through this problem and finally got it fixed I don’t really hold ATI in a bad light. I have had several of their Video Cards over the years and never had any issues at all with them. Like wise I have had several Nvidia based video cards that have run with no problems as well. I don’t like one video card more then other. The reason I bought the Geforce 7950 GT/OC was, it was the one my local store had that had a better performance to price ratio over any of the ATI cards in the store, plus it was on sale so I bought that one.

In conclusion I did this article so that it could help someone else out if they should be in the same boat I was in. If I had of had some spare PCI-Express parts I could have saved a lot of the headaches. Do to the fact I’m not loaded with cash and didn’t have any spare parts to test with, I was sort of screwed and had to do things the slow way. One good thing did come of all this, now I will have two PCI-Express based video cards just in case this should happen again…

Update March 23 2007…

Well amazingly enough I sent the graphics card back to the ATI RMA Center thats less then 100 miles from me and within 3 days total I got the ATI video card back.

Before I sent the video card back to them I was sure to mark the card in a couple of places just in case they tried to pull a fast one. The new video card I got back doesn’t have any of the markings I put on my video card, so for the most part I assume this is a new video card.

I did run a couple of quick tests today with the video card and the video card is clearly running fine and not giving any of the issues the old video card was giving me. Having said that I haven’t really run the card through its paces yet and I’m not sure when I will.

Do to the fact I bought the faster geforce card I don’t want to give up the performance and live with the ATI card lol. On top of that I’m also Reviewing some games that I don’t want to have to start over on with the ATI card. So for the time being at least the ATI card will remain not in use.

Over all I have to hand it to the ATI RMA center I wasn’t expecting the card back so fast. This is another reason I’m convinced they gave me a new card. They certainly didn’t have the time to try and fix the card.

The cost to send the card back to the ATI RMA center was not cheap it cost me around $50.00 Canadian. And that was the cheapest option UPS had. It was recommended by ATI to have the package inured so that cost a few bucks as well. ATI picked up the cost of sending the video card back to me and they used fed ex next day express I think it was.

One thing this whole experience underscores is that when you buy stuff online, if something goes wrong with it its up to you to get it back to the factory for a replacement. A lot of brick and mortar stores around here would have replaced the Video card on the spot. The problem with the brick and mortar stores at least around here is the selection of computer parts they have is really not that impressive.

So after all this I now have a second PCI-express video card, just to bad it wasn’t a nvida video card that I could get working in SLI mode with the one thats in the machine now.