Saturday evening I was showing my mother Lord of the Rings Online, she being a big fan of the books. (The first time I read it, I read her copies of the books.)
We were wandering around the countryside when the game started showing a lot of graphic rendering problems. A pattern of visual “noise” seemed to overlay the screen and eventually the game locked up.
I had to reset the machine and when it came up again the overlay of noise was still there and as I tried the display settings the system locked up again.
My mom went off to play with my daughter and I started tinkering with the machine to get it going again. The box, however, resolutely refused to boot up after that point.
Every time I restarted, I would get a blue screen informing me that “ATI2dvag” was in an infinite loop and that this was likely due to a hardware issue.
I opened up the machine, re-seated the card, made sure the contacts were clean, blew any dust out of the AGP slot, and checked that both molex connectors were firmly plugged into the back of the card.
None of this helped. I could not even boot the machine in SAFE MODE.
Eventually I pulled the x1950 out of the machine and put my old x800XL back in.
Everything came up fine.
Now I was worried that my still-pretty-new Sapphire x1950 Pro AGP was dead. Not good news. If you think some people are bad at shipping back RMAs, I am in another league altogether.
Still, Saturday night was moving along and the time for our instance group to gather was approaching. I figured I would look into the x1950 issue in the morning.
Predictably, falling back to the x800XL made very little difference to the performance of World of Warcraft. I am sure I lost a few frame per second, but I hardly noticed.
The next day was busy with my mother departing for home, cleaning up for an open house, shopping for carpet, and a trip to the park to entertain my daughter. The day sped past, the evening came, and finally around 10pm I was able to get back to my computer.
I was a bit too tired to start any real work on the problem, but I did run “ATi2dvag” through the search engines, just to see if I was alone in the issue.
The results seem to indicate that I am not. Unfortunately, like any such issues, there are dozens of different ways people claim they have resolved the issue, some of them reassuringly logical, others more akin to techno-shamanism.
It was too late to try and digest much of it, though one person did point out some differences between Catalyst 7.1, which came with my card, and 7.2, to which I upgraded last week, as a possible issue. He could be a crank as well, but at least his point was reasonable and I can go back to an older version of the driver easily enough.
I have to do something though. While WoW ran nicely enough, I cranked up all the settings in EverQuest II after I got the x1950 installed, and falling back to my old card dropped my frame rate through the floor. Given all of the video related options that EQ2 has, it will probably be easier to just get the x1950 going again rather than trying to retune them all back to my old card.