Melted video card

17th December 2008 – 2.29 pm

If only a melted video card were an EVE Online salvaged component, I would be happy to find one and sell it on the market for half-a-million ISK. Sadly, the melted video card is sitting in my computer.

I experienced a game freeze in World of Warcraft when running Gnomesblight through Underbog and was a little concerned but thought little more of it. That was until it happened again. And then it got worse. Whilst I was playing normally an internal fan span up to high speed, making a bit of a racket, and then the video cut out completely to my monitor. This was not good at all. Only a hard reboot got me back my video signal, and only for an hour or so before it happened again. The fan span up to maximum speed followed by the video cutting out. iTunes was still playing in the background so the computer was otherwise functional.

I open up the side of the computer and check for excessive dust and cat hair and find that the internals are still quite free from debris, although in shifting the computer slightly to one side I find a small, unexplained stash of kitty biscuits. I check the connections to the video card and my monitor and nothing is amiss. I am fairly sure by this point that my video card is dying from an overheating problem perhaps caused by a related on-board failure.

I call the Apple support line, for my computer is still under warranty, and am given some suggested fixes, including a PRAM and NVRAM reset, although I would be amazed if this fixed the problem. My first plan is to make a full back-up of my hard drive, partly because it is a simply good idea to do so and partly because taking a computer in to a service department, which I suspect I will need to do, can be harmful to user data. Sadly, the video signal doesn't remain stable long enough for the time it takes to boot the OS and load the back-up software, so my plans are scuppered. I try the support line suggestions and, unsurprisingly in this instance, they don't fix the problem, so I call an authorised service centre and book my machine in to be fixed under warranty.

With luck, the 'knackered video card' problem will be easy to reproduce and diagnose and I will have a shiny new video card in the system within a couple of days. In the mean time, I have my notebook to stop me suffering EVE Online and World of Warcraft withdrawal symptoms, even if the smaller screen and slightly cramped keyboard/monitor position reduce my desire to play for extended periods. On a positive note, my Mac Book Pro handles both games quite capably, throwing polygons all over the screen at fifty frames per second on average. If I feel adventurous I might even see if the notebook can drive my desktop monitor well enough to run the games. I think it is supposed to be able to drive the monitor, but whether it can do so whilst running an MMORPG at an acceptable frame rate is another matter.

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