Graphical glitch in some games - Help!

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by MagR, Aug 31, 2009.

  1. MagR

    MagR Geek Trainee

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    Hi

    This is my first post on this forum and I hope someone can help me. I'm pretty new to gaming and system building and am experiencing an annoying graphics glitch in some parts of some games. The anomaly appears as large translucent snowflakes slowly swirling in some parts of games and is extremely distracting. Games affected include Assassin's Creed, Bioshock, Crysis, The Witcher and Call of Juarez and the effect is the same at all resolutions and quality settings. Older games such as FEAR, Far Cry, Doom 3 and Prey do not appear to suffer from this. The corruption appears in the same parts or levels of affected games and as it is not random I have ruled out overheating, especially as I have an Antec Twelve Hundred case with 8 fans.

    I've embarked on a systematic programme of replacing hardware one item at a time to find the culprit causing this glitch. So far I have replaced the graphics card (Sapphire Radeon HD 1GB 4870 to Pallit Nvidia 2GB GTX 285), processor (Core 2 Quad 6600 to Core i7 920 DO), motherboard (Asus P5Q-E to Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R), RAM (4GB Corsair Dominator to 6GB OCZ Gold), cooler (Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro to Akasa Nero) power supply (Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro 650W to Enermax Revolution 85+ 1250W) and optical drive. None of the changes has fixed the problem. I now have a more powerfull, faster system on which to watch this corruption!

    I've also tried my system with a different monitor and DVI-D lead to no avail. I use two hard disks, a Velociraptor 300GB with a Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB as back up. I've tried re-installing the operating system on each of these with the offending games and it does nothing different. I've even switched from Vista to Windows 7 RC1 and it makes no difference. Prior to reinstallation I always wipe the disks with with a program called Killdisk to get a clean start. No component is overclocked and I use AVG, A Squared and Ad-Aware for virusus etc. Drivers for motherboard, sound and especially graphics are up to date.

    I'm now at my wits end as there is nothing left to change and I have enough spare hardware, none of which seems to be faulty, to build another rig.

    One chap on another forum suggested my VRAM could be corrupted but it seems strange that two different graphics cards from different suppliers could have the same problem. I tried to use a video memory testing program but it did'nt seem to work with cards whose memory exceeds 512MB as both of mine do and the read me was very confusing so I gave up.

    I'm now wondering if it's something simple that a newbie like me has overlooked. It wasn't until I went on a forum a few months ago that I managed to stop games tearing as I'd never heard of vertical sync!

    Can anyone help?

    Regards

    Mag
     
  2. Anti-Trend

    Anti-Trend Nonconformist Geek Staff Member

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    Hello, welcome to HWF. Do the artifacts show up in screenshots, or only on the screen? If they do show up, can you post some screenshots?
     
  3. MagR

    MagR Geek Trainee

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    Thanks for replying. The artifacts do indeed show up in screenshots:

    CoJ]Download - CoJ 2009-08-30 11-19-56-84.bmp - Uploadingit.com Free file and image hosting 2009-08-30 11-19-56-84.bmp[/url]

    witcher]Download - witcher 2009-08-30 11-12-50-78.bmp - Uploadingit.com Free file and image hosting 2009-08-30 11-12-50-78.bmp[/url]

    The first shot is from the start of Call of Juarez with settings and resolution on low. The anomalies are the white translucent blobs you can see. What the screenshot doesn't show is that they are swirling which makes them very distracting.

    The second shot is from The Witcher on high resolution and settings. If you look at the tree you can see some green translucent blobs which are also moving.

    I always get the same anomalies at the same point in these games irrespective of how long I've played which makes me reject heat as the cause.

    Any ideas?

    Thanks again

    Mag
     
  4. Anti-Trend

    Anti-Trend Nonconformist Geek Staff Member

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    Well, I can tell you that you've completely ruled out the screen or cables as the culprit. Are you overclocking any of your components: CPU, RAM, GPU...?
     
  5. MagR

    MagR Geek Trainee

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    In my original system - Core 2 Quad, Radeon 4870 etc - I overclocked my CPU and GPU for a while till I realised it wasn't actually making much difference when I went back to stock speeds.

    In the new system after all the hardware changes - Core i7, GTX 285 etc - I havn't overclocked anything nor do I intend to so in future. In addition the new graphics card came at stock speed so was not pre-overclocked by the board partner.

    Any more ideas?

    Thanks again

    Mag
     
  6. Anti-Trend

    Anti-Trend Nonconformist Geek Staff Member

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    The next thing I would try would be making sure the chipset and video drivers are current, try reinstalling DirectX, and make sure that the affected games are fully patched.
     
  7. MagR

    MagR Geek Trainee

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    Thanks for replying. I always make sure all the drivers are up to date and I patch games to their latest version so this is unlikely to explain the problem.

    I'm intrigued by your sugeestion about reinstalling DirectX. I've never installed DirectX - I thought it was part of the operating system - Vista has DirectX10 and a backwards compatible version of DirectX9 I think. How do I go about reinstalling it then as this seems worth a try? - do I download it from the Microsoft website?

    Thanks again

    Mag
     
  8. Anti-Trend

    Anti-Trend Nonconformist Geek Staff Member

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    You can get the DirectX Redistributable binary from download.microsoft.com.

    If that doesn't work, the final theory out of me is that it could just be a Vista problem. It seems like Vista has been your only constant through all the part swapping and drive wiping... could the problem be the weaksauce OS?
     
  9. MagR

    MagR Geek Trainee

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    Thanks for replying. I'll try the DirectX link you've supplied. As regards your comment about the O/S I've had the same problem with Vista and the Windows 7 RC1. Mind you Windows 7 seems awfully like Vista speeded up a little to me so it could be possible.

    Thanks again

    Mag
     
  10. Anti-Trend

    Anti-Trend Nonconformist Geek Staff Member

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    This may sound basic or insulting, but just wanted to check... the PCIE power connector to the video card is plugged in, right?

    As for "Windows 7" actually being "Vista second edition", that's pretty much what's going on. Vista is NT version 6, and W7 seems to actually report itself as NT 6.1. I imagine there's not too much difference under the hood, and I've head driver guys say it's a lot tougher to develop good drivers for Vista than for previous versions of Windows.
     
  11. MagR

    MagR Geek Trainee

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    Thanks for replying. I'm sorry I've not got back to you for a couple of days. The graphics card is properly plugged in. It uses two 6 pin connectors and I've checked both are well seated.

    I've just finished running a test with ATI Tool on my Nvidia card! There is a test specifically for graphical artifacts but the card is showing as clean with no errors found. This seems to show one minor difference between Vista and Win 7. I couldn't use ATI Tool with Vista 64 bit due it having unsigned drivers but Win 7 64 bit gives me a warning but lets it load which is convenient when you know you can trust the software.

    I'm now considering whether something is stopping my games installing on the hard drive properly no matter how many times I reinstall. My hard drives are free of bad sectors but I'm wondering if there is a software issue. I thought hard drives (and optical drives for that matter) were simple plug and play devices and the operating system would provide appropriate drivers. Am I wrong here or do I need to load drivers like I do for my graphics card etc? Do you have to configure hard drives somehow to get them to work properly?

    If you have any more thoughts I would be grateful.

    Thanks again

    Mag
     
  12. Anti-Trend

    Anti-Trend Nonconformist Geek Staff Member

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    No, hard drives don't need drivers.The controllers that they're connected to do however. Do you have the latest version of your chipset drivers installed?
     
  13. MagR

    MagR Geek Trainee

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    Thanks for replying so quickly. When I looked on the motherboard driver disk that was supplied the drivers were up to date with the ones on their website so I used them. The one's I installed were the chipset Intel INF driver (I don't know what this does but it relates to the Southbridge presumably), the LAN driver (for internet?) and the SATA driver (although I suspect this was really for RAID). Is this all I need? What about the DVD drive - does that need anything?

    Thanks again

    Mag
     
  14. Anti-Trend

    Anti-Trend Nonconformist Geek Staff Member

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    Nope, again, only the chipset that runs the buss it's connected to needs drivers. The device itself follows the buss's standards, i.e. IDE or SATA.
     
  15. MagR

    MagR Geek Trainee

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    Thanks again. Time to think of something else!

    Mag
     

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