Screen blank - GPU issue or PSU issue?

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Screen blank - GPU issue or PSU issue?

Postposted on Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:17 am

Last night, I helped a friend build a PC.

- i7-4770k
- ASRock Z87 Extreme4
- Samsung 840 EVO
- Nvidia 560 branded by Zotac
- Thermaltake 600 watt PSU
- 4 x 4 GB 2133 Mhz RAM
- stock cooling, no overclocking
(Specs are his own decision. I offered advice, he sometimes didn't listen.)

The first time we fired it up, we never saw it post. But physically removing the GPU and running off of integrated graphics allowed it to post just fine, and also install Windows and boot to the desktop just fine. Bad GPU, right? But it was working on his last machine.

Plugging the GPU into a different PCI slot allowed it to boot, but of course the resolution was super small because it had no drivers. So GPU appears to be working? During installing the Nvidia drivers, the screen went dark and remained dark. We waited over 15 minutes. I'm used to flashing, but not remaining dark. Most times we tried booting with the GPU installed, we never saw it post. Once more after trying to install Nvidia drivers, it was able to post and begin loading windows with the GPU installed, then the screen went dark.

I'm grasping at straws, but here are my hunches:
- Maybe the GPU is bad, was partially damaged by cold or humidity or static electricity or something.
- Maybe the off-brand PSU isn't able to deliver enough power for the whole system?
- Maybe the off-brand PSU isn't able to deliver enough power over the 2x6 pin power connectors for the 560?
- Maybe I'm not supposed to be using both 6 pin power connectors from the same wire coming from the PSU? But that's all it comes with.

Other ideas?

TR community is the best. Thanks in advance.
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Re: Screen blank - GPU issue or PSU issue?

Postposted on Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:37 am

The PSU should have plenty wattage for the system if it isn't damaged. Which OS are you using? Can you disable integrated graphics in the BIOS an see if it runs well? Windows should automatically install the drivers if you are using Windows 7 or 8 I believe.
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Re: Screen blank - GPU issue or PSU issue?

Postposted on Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:06 pm

Did you update the BIOS? I had a system that was super flakey even getting the thing to display anything on POST, and it was working fine until I tried a newer card. Update the BIOS solved it.
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Re: Screen blank - GPU issue or PSU issue?

Postposted on Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:09 pm

Start troubleshooting by turning off UEFI features and disabling the IGP.

I'm assuming you've re-seated the graphics card in the primary slot and checked the power connections. Also check if there's an updated motherboard BIOS in case it's a simple (but rare) compatibility issue.

There's a chance that the card was damaged during the move. Do you still have the old system to test it in?
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Re: Screen blank - GPU issue or PSU issue?

Postposted on Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:42 pm

Jon1984 wrote:The PSU should have plenty wattage for the system if it isn't damaged. Which OS are you using? Can you disable integrated graphics in the BIOS an see if it runs well? Windows should automatically install the drivers if you are using Windows 7 or 8 I believe.


OS is Windows 8.1. I assume it can install the drivers if it ever gets a chance to boot with the Nvidia GPU.

captaintrav wrote:Did you update the BIOS? I had a system that was super flakey even getting the thing to display anything on POST, and it was working fine until I tried a newer card. Update the BIOS solved it.


Good suggestion. I'll try it.

Chrispy_ wrote:Start troubleshooting by turning off UEFI features and disabling the IGP.

I'm assuming you've re-seated the graphics card in the primary slot and checked the power connections. Also check if there's an updated motherboard BIOS in case it's a simple (but rare) compatibility issue.

There's a chance that the card was damaged during the move. Do you still have the old system to test it in?


If I turn off IGP, will I be able to turn it back on if nothing works? We have reseated the GPU in the initial slot, as well as the power connectors for it. I can try turning off UEFI. Nah, he doesn't have anything functional enough to try the GPU in anymore. We could use my system, although that doesn't sound like a lot of fun yanking it from where it is installed and mucking around in it. But, if necessary, we could try his GPU in my rig, and my PSU in his rig.

All of this is giving me a headache! But thanks to everyone. All ideas are welcome!
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Re: Screen blank - GPU issue or PSU issue?

Postposted on Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:54 pm

It could be the PSU. I once had a bad PSU that would give a black screen on a cold boot--no POST, just fans humming. The system had to be left on for a minutes, followed by a reboot to get it to POST.

That system had a CX430, HD5450, one hard disk, and a core 2 duo, so the power it needed was not crazy.

Wonder what was wrong with the PSU.
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Re: Screen blank - GPU issue or PSU issue?

Postposted on Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:24 pm

Do you think it's that the PSU can't put out enough power to the 2x6 pin plugs for the GPU?
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Re: Screen blank - GPU issue or PSU issue?

Postposted on Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:18 pm

You should be okay disabling the IGP, if you can't get back into the BIOS you can always just clear the CMOS.

It's possible it's a faulty PSU but normally idle power goes down with the drivers installed, not up.

I'd guess that possible options are, in order of likelihood:
  • BIOS configuration UEFI/IGP or similar
  • BIOS bug, firmware update may fix
  • Faulty graphics card, damaged during the move
  • Driver problems
  • Power issues.

When you say "bank screen" with the GPU in another slot, is that only once windows is loaded, or did installing the drivers make it go blank and never recover even if you power cycle the PC?
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Re: Screen blank - GPU issue or PSU issue?

Postposted on Thu Apr 24, 2014 5:04 pm

The blank screen issue is that the monitor never registers a signal. With the GPU out, the monitor registers a signal every time. With the GPU in, plugged into any display out, it almost never registers a signal. It did a couple of times, like it will post, then the signal cuts out and the monitor goes to sleep. And no amount of re-plugging will get it to wake up again. A couple times it did this during the boot process (showing a Windows logo) with the GPU installed. Once, with the GPU installed it made it all the way to the desktop and I began installing the Nvidia drivers. The display dropped during the driver installation (never completed, probably) and the monitor went to sleep for lack of signal. And I can't install the driver without the GPU installed, because it says it doesn't detect a compatible GPU.

To be clear, I swapped out monitors and video cables.

Thanks so much!
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Re: Screen blank - GPU issue or PSU issue?

Postposted on Thu Apr 24, 2014 5:32 pm

Maybe want to keep an eye on HDD indicator when no display to see if the windows is running and only the gpu had failed
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Re: Screen blank - GPU issue or PSU issue?

Postposted on Thu Apr 24, 2014 5:44 pm

Milo Burke wrote:Do you think it's that the PSU can't put out enough power to the 2x6 pin plugs for the GPU?

Are both 6-pins on the same cord?
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Re: Screen blank - GPU issue or PSU issue?

Postposted on Thu Apr 24, 2014 6:37 pm

It sounds too inconsistent to be a setting/software/firmware; My hunch based on what you added is that it's a faulty something.

My money is on GPU or PSU rather than motherboard. Do you have alternatives to swap in, or an old system you can transplant the GPU into?
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Re: Screen blank - GPU issue or PSU issue?

Postposted on Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:20 pm

Grab a magnifying glass and a flashlight and look down into the slot and see if some foreign matter has gotten down in there and blocking connections, or maybe the slot itself is defective with missing traces etc.
Boot it up on the IGP and do a full RAM test.
Some ASRock boards are moody when it comes to RAM type/timings. Try loading a couple diff profiles to see if that makes a difference.

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Re: Screen blank - GPU issue or PSU issue?

Postposted on Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:39 am

It's not going to be the slot (or at least it's highly unlikely) because he's already tried two slots and the GPU has issues in both.
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Re: Screen blank - GPU issue or PSU issue?

Postposted on Fri Apr 25, 2014 9:46 am

Both 6 pin plugs for the GPU are on the same cord. Is that an issue?

The HDD indicator flashes maybe once a second. But remember, it's an SSD. It doesn't require much activity, especially just idling. I haven't watched it while it was booting, though. I assume the first 10 seconds after powering the system on, I should see the light nearly solidly lit even if the display shows nothing?

I have an alternative GPU and PSU in my system, but I really don't want to swap them out if I don't have to. Everything is so neatly installed, and I don't want any issues, you know? I've got the Corsair HX650 PSU and a reference AMD HD5870 GPU (due for an upgrade, but money is tight).

I'll recommend he do hardware testing without the GPU installed to see if everything else is running normally.
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Re: Screen blank - GPU issue or PSU issue?

Postposted on Fri Apr 25, 2014 10:54 am

Milo Burke wrote:Both 6 pin plugs for the GPU are on the same cord. Is that an issue?

Depends on the PSU. If it's a multi-rail design it might not be able to deliver enough juice from one cord. If it's a single-rail design, no problems (up to the current carrying capacity of the wiring).
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