An old friend of mine has been having a problem with his BFG Tech video card for a while. He’d been working with BFG Tech, nVidia and the Geek Squad to resolve the problem for many months with no resolution. The problem is black screen of death after anywhere from minutes to hours of play, especially on older DirectX games. He brought his PC to me this week and right away I was able to duplicate the problem so, I knew I could troubleshoot this issue without too many hours of work.
Googling around I learned that this GPU setup is notorious for issues with older games and that the OC in the part name means it is shipped in an over clocked state. A little tweaking of Dungeon Siege got me so that I could cause the crash in under 10 seconds consistently. After adding the nVidia system tools package so that I could tweak the card settings I first tried the non-over clocked stock GeForce 9600 settings (650 core, 900 mem, 1625 shader). This increased run time before crash but only to less than 2 minutes. The stock settings where 4 to 5% less on core and mem than the factory OC settings so next I tried lowering all three speeds to 11 to 12% less than OC (600 core, 800 mem, 1500 shader). This has done the trick, I’ve gotten over ten hours of continuous runtime without crashing. While it is sad to have to limit the speed of his card, it’s still far faster than his previous GeForce 7300 and, the game that required the higher video power works fine. So, I’m going to give him back the PC and show him how to tweak the card more in case the issue crops up during actual long playing sessions. I’ll update this post if his testing shows any problems.