Dead Fan

It seems that the fan on my graphics card (256MB ATI Radeon 9800 Pro) has stopped working. I discovered this last night shortly after starting up Windows. The display shut off, but everything else seemed to be working fine. My monitor showed a black screen and an error message, helpfully informing me that the input should be in 1920 x 1200. I restarted the computer a couple of times with the same effect — Windows starts up fine, display is all right, then screen goes black because the card has stopped transmitting information to the display. I shut down the computer again, opened up the computer case, touched my graphics card, and practically burned myself. I started the computer again and looked underneath, and saw that the fan on my card was no longer spinning. I turned it off again and made sure that all the connections were secure, but the fan still didn’t work when I restarted. Finally I shutdown my computer for the evening because I was afraid that my card was going to overheat and switch off again.

I am looking into replacement GPU fans/heatsinks.  Any suggestions on which to buy/avoid?

If the replacement heatsink/fan doesn’t work, which I guess would mean that the circuit between the fan and the GPU is broken, I am not sure what to do apart from replacing my graphics card.

If I need to replace my graphics card, does anyone have suggestions? I know that SLI is all the rage, but my motherboard is AGP. It seems that graphics cards may be all-SLI within a few years, so is it worth investing in the best AGP card currently available to make the most out of my motherboard? Are there any cards that somehow bridge the gap between AGP and SLI?

I’ve got to do some research.

  9 comments for “Dead Fan

  1. 9 January 2007 at 12:46

    Don’t bother with SLI. It’s overkill and requires too much power as well as not supporting dual monitors. Most people get one SLi card with the rational that they can plug in another, but you’re just better off upgrading the single card. Plus you’d have to upgrade your motherboard to PCIe, and therefore your RAM and probably CPU too. Very expensive. If the games you’re playing on the 9800 run fine then I’d stick with it. :)

    You should be able to find a good replacement fan fairly cheap and they’re not hard to fit yourself, I recently did it on my 7800 and the bonus is it’s much quieter and cooler. I went with Arctic, seems they do a version for your card (Ati 9800), and if the fan power plug on the graphics board is broken you can just plug it into one coming off your PSU instead:

    http://www.coolerguys.com/840556035268.html

    Problem solved!

  2. 9 January 2007 at 12:55

    Thanks for the very helpful suggestions, Pete. :D

  3. 9 January 2007 at 13:00

    SLI just lets you have 2 graphics cards running together.

    What you really mean is PCI Express, which is the new type of card interface. It’s getting harder to find AGP cards today, but I’m sure you can still pick one up that’s good enough. Upgrading motherboards isn’t fun.

  4. 9 January 2007 at 13:05

    Right, PCIe. I was just reading that a couple of hours ago, and I spazzed on the terminology!

  5. 9 January 2007 at 16:28

    Here’s my understanding:

    Nobody ever used up the bandwidth of AGP before they ditched it. PCI-E is technically better, but an expensive AGP card is going to get you good performance just as well as a PCI-E card.

    There’s nothing to make a PCI-E card work on an AGP motherboard, AFAIK however.

    If the computer was still displaying for a while before going all black, the GPU itself is probably fine. For 13 bucks, it’s well worth the try to just keep using the 9800 for now. The 9700/9800 were an awesome design that have really stood up against the times. I still play Guild Wars on my 9700.

    Well, when I had my PC plugged in I did :)

    My plan (if I keep gaming on the PC) is to keep an eye out for AGP deals. The cards will slowly sink pricewise, especially on ebay.

  6. 9 January 2007 at 17:06

    “Nobody ever used up the bandwidth of AGP before they ditched it. PCI-E is technically better, but an expensive AGP card is going to get you good performance just as well as a PCI-E card.”

    You know, this is something I had wondered about. It seemed like overnight people started hyperventilating over how fast the PCIe bus was, but I couldn’t remember anyone ever complaining that AGP (much less AGP 2x and 4x) weren’t fast enough.

    It’s like it was just a way to make replacing my crappy motherboard more expensive. That part worked just fine.

  7. JJ
    15 January 2007 at 15:56

    Zalman makes great aftermarket coolers that are pretty easy to install. They’re typically alot quieter than the stock one’s too.

  8. 16 January 2007 at 11:42

    Hi JJ, I actually did go with a Zalman replacement fan in the end. :)

  9. JJ
    16 January 2007 at 21:23

    Glad to hear it. Hope you get it installed with no problems.

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