Solution for screen flickers in ATI Cards (esp HD 4800 series)

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Jeffonline

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In this thread you will find multiple remedies for a common flickering issue among the recent HD series of cards. Although the same general principles apply to some of the GeForce nVidia cards, the information here is specifically targeting the ATi Radeon™ family.
First of all DO NOT and I repeat do not fix the flickering issue via installing Riva Tuner. RT is a fantastic piece of software and I highly recommend it to anyone who is keen on seeing what goes on behind the scene and enjoys taking full control of the hardware side of the system, but it's not the solution for this particular problem... Here are more details:
The flickering is a common occurrence with ALL (...yes all) VGA cards that are overclocked by default by the manufacturer beyond the recommended 900 MHz memory clock. This phenomenon happens regardless of the chosen PCB manufacturer (Asus, Gigabyte, XFX, Powercolor, Sapphire, HIS and so on) when the operating system switches profiles within the graphic card. This is done to adjust performance settings according to the users interaction with the system by consuming less power at off-peak thus prolonging the VGA service life.
As discovered by previous users of this thread, With some ATI ® cards overclocking by the manufacturer has become an issue but underclocking the RAM frequency completely resolves the issue. I fully understand that these cards were marketed with the catch phrase of having that extra performance benefits and that was how consumers were lured into paying the premium over their counterparts but unfortunately this technical glitch has turned the strength into a weakness and the promises performance does not materialize. By using the default ATI Overdrive™ feature you can safely reduce the frequency at to match the off-peak 900 Mhz (at peak game usage or off peak browsing) while still taking advantage of the overclocking provided by the GPU frequency management module. In other terms while you lose 25 MHz of RAM performance via the CCC™ limit, the GPU clock is managed flawlessly and when needed, your core clock speed is increased from its default value to the recommended overclock value. This constant adjustment does NOT happen with Riva Tuner and that is why there are no screen flickers happening. When you overclock with Riva tuner (which ever version it may be) to the recommended default factory setting (ie: 780 or 800 @ 925 or 950 MHz) the graphic card is constantly idling at that peak frequency (unfortunately in the pre OC-ed VGA it's the maximum that the card can safely handle). If you monitor the behavior of the VGA with Riva Tuner it's evident that it does not change the values to the desirable idle values (500 @ 900 Mhz) once the gaming application has terminated or you are working with 2D applications. This constant exposure to the highest overclocked voltage along with the inevitable heat sink mishaps and environmental temperature variations will soon lead the way to the famous VPU recovery scenario which plagues many HD4800 series cards, rendering the VGA useless and dramatically degrading your gaming experience with constant disruptions, system failure (hangs) and the blue screen of death. The VPU itself is not the problem, but it's an indication that the system is vulnerable at certain operating scenarios.
Here is the temporary solution for the average know-how user until there is a permanent fix for the RAM issue:
- Undo whatever (damaging) procedure you have done so far
- CLEAN Install the latest drivers (FROM ATI®)
- Enable ATI Overdrive™ (bypass the confirmation prompt)
- Underclock your "Memory Clock" to 900 MHz
- Apply changes
In most cases the fan control does NOT need adjustments [if the PCB vendor has done the profiling correctly]. You CAN install Riva Tuner after this, as it's a very nice addition for the enthusiast BUT do not overclock the VGA with it (or any other software).
Clearly you must repeat this for every new system that you install this class of VGA on - obviously the repetition includes OS changes and driver updates as well. If you are an advanced user, you can easily eliminate the undesirable flickering permanently from the graphics card hardware itself (independent of OS and OC Software) by flashing the EPROM. Modifying the Bios is something that I will not go into details here because the procedure has a high risk factor for the ordinary user and if an individual qualifies as an advance user he/she already knows the details.
I tried to explain the process as best as I can, I hope it helps all you gamers out there. Just in case you need further assistance I will check back on this thread later on, unfortunately I prefer not to disclose any personal contact detail here at this moment.

Best of luck
 

EXT64

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Are you referring to the GDDR5 cards? I assume you are and you should mention that, as my 4850 is at 993MHz Ram clock and experiences no such issues.

Edit: and that is the stock, ATI recommended setting.
 

B-Unit

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I know it sounds weird, but...

I moved last week, and in the process I've gone from gaming on my 32" 1080p TV to my 20" ViewSonic VA2026w (1680x1050). Somewhere in the transition, be it resolution, going from HDMI to DVI, or the displays themselves, Sins of a Solar Empire developed a 'stutter' for lack of a better word, like every 3-4 sec, the display would hiccup.

I am using an XFX 48701GB with mem clocked in BIOS at 950Mhz. As luck would have it I stumbled upon this post and thought, 'No way...'

I turned my memory clock down to 900Mhz and the stutter has disappeared.

This is a weird problem, as when connected to my TV, it ran at 950 with no hiccup. I haven't noticed it in any other games, but H.A.W.X. is about all I've been playing the last couple weeks.
 

Jeffonline

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Although it was really not necessary to record "screen flickers" I had a look at your video. If it makes you feel any better, the flickering on your screen was relatively moderate in comparison to what I see most of the times. I could not make out what display device you were using from the video as it was too dark but my assumption is that you have connected your VGA directly to a 20 or 22" rapid response flat screen LCD (probably under 6ms via a DVI jack).

If you haven't returned your VGA yet try a simple test...
- Make sure third party hardware controllers and overclocking software (such as Riva Tuner) are disabled and you have our latest drivers
- Open the Catalyst™ Control Center,
- In the options menu enable "Always on Top" (it's under Preferences)
- Switch to the ATI Overdrive™ tab
- Disable the ATI Overdrive™ feature and position the CCC window so you can see the "Current Values" section along with a large portion of your desktop (just drag the window to the side)
- While you open a simple (windowed) desktop game (ie.try Chess Titans in Windows 7 or Vista) or a graphic intensive 2D application, observe the "Memory Clock" field of the CCC window
- If the screen flickers coincide with fluctuations in the Memory Clock Frequency (which I'm guessing is the case) your problem stems from your memory profiles of the VGA Bios. In such case the instructions in my initial post will help you eliminate the problem. If by under clocking you're unable to stop the flickering return the product with you RMA for exchange (or refund whichever is the case).

I hope this helps
 

realmatrix

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I am having the same problem with the replacement card(HD 4670) as well. I plugged the card on 3 different machines.It flickers on one machine and doesn't on the other two.Can't really isolate the issue. Is the monitor or vga cable to blame .
Since the card is new..as of now there is no flickering on heavy gpu usage as in the earlier card but I am able to replicate the screen flicker by clicking detect display in ati ccc. I am using the standard vga cable. I am connected to a 37" lcd display.
I am planning to go purchase an ati card of another make...will that help.
Did the card flicker in a similar fashion (black horizontal bars)..when clicking detect display..in your case.
 

Jeffonline

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At this point, all I can say is that the cards are NOT defected (unless they were damaged by the user with what we call "creative troubleshooting techniques") therefore swapping them with new ones will not resolve the issue. Even if you swap to a different brand the chances of eliminating the issue are very slim (refer to the initial post) due to the fact that it's the RAM switching architecture that's at fault not the actual hardware. ATI® is well aware of the issue and has allocated resources to work with partner manufacturers as closely as possible but each board maker has their own policy in regards to customer support therefore there can be no silver bullet.
Please include the following in your reply:
- The outcome of the simple test that I described in my previous reply
- Brand/Model of all the LCDs that you tested the card with (don't forget to specify which one had the flickering issue, make sure you include the response time for each)
- Board manufacturer of the HD 4670
- A rough overclocking history (if any)
It would also be helpful if you have the following information ready:
- Your contact history with ATI® or the board manufacturer
- Location of purchase (region not store)
- Time of purchase [and/or preferably product serial number]

* do NOT include the last three in your public post in the forum
 

rokr047

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HI i m a noob to the world of graphic card...i recently bought an ATI HD 4850 GDDR5 card....after struggling with it a couple of months back i finally installed it and all was fine, but my system restarted frequently, i figured it was because of the heat. so i took it out.. Now when i again install it, i cannot view anything on my monitor, just a BLANK screen, its like my monitor is in sleep.

i hv checked all the cables and other stuff nothing seems to b at fault here...is my graphic card faulty???? please reply....thanks.
 

Jeffonline

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Although this is completely off-topic here, but I'm here to help.Generally when you're asking for online troubleshooting it's not a bad idea to include your system specs, not just the question – especially right after my last reply to the last post here!

To give you an immediate answer, I guess there is one way to quickly determine if the VGA is faulty or not… Try it on another system!
Apart from that (if you have limited access to another system) when you attach the connectors to your VGA do you still see the "no signal" message or the monitor TURNS ON with a black screen or it's completely off or in standby with a black screen?
If once you attach the cable to the back of the VGA the no signal message disappears (assuming the VGA is not damaged) the problem might be the analog/digital setting on the LCD (again assuming you have a digital display unit). Try switching the receive mode from the LCD's control panel.

Best of luck
 

rokr047

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Thank you for replying.

Sorry about the off topic post, this was the first link i stumbled upon so i posted here. and about my systems config:

Intel Pentium 4 Processor 3 GHz,
Intel D915GAV Motherboard,
2GB DDR 1 RAM Transcend
Samsung SyncMaster 510N monitor,
250 GB HDD
Microsoft XP Pro SP2
512MB Palit ATI HD 4850 GDDR5,

Actually i was using my ATI 4850 a couple of months ago as i mentioned earlier, now when i connect it to my computer the screen goes blank(as in standby with a black screen). After reading your post on trying it on another machine, i tried it in my friends machine,

Gigabyte 945gcx Mobo,
2 GB DDR2 SD RAM Transcend ,
Intel Core2duo processor 3GHz,
Windows XP Pro SP3,
250 GB HDD
AOC 17in widescreen LCD Monitor

When i connected to this system, the screen came live on boot but there were black and white patches/shades/line...and when it was about to go into the login screen for XP, the system restarted, this continued endlessly.

I came back and installed it in my PC. It was the same as before : nothing.it was las if my monitor was in the standby mode. Then i read some other post it might be due to driver, so i completely reinstalled my Microsoft XP Pro, and now when i connect i get the same black and white patches (that showed up in my friends system) and the system restarts infinitely.

when i attach the connectors to my VGA, (when the connectors are detached my monitors show "NO SIGNAL, but once i connect it seems to be working.), as i said above it turns on and i can see that it is loading but after booting in XP, black screen (as in standby with a black screen) and restarts.

the problem might be the analog/digital setting on the LCD (again assuming you have a digital display unit). Try switching the receive mode from the LCD's control panel.
can you please give (link) me more info on that.

I read that updating the BIOS can sometime solve these kinds of problem, so i m going to update my BIOS now, hope it ill work.

Here is the image i took of my monitor with ATI 4850 connected:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rokr_stylus/4098379164/

 

Jeffonline

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I had a look at the uploaded image
I am very surprised that you hadn't "CLEAN" installed the latest driver before your initial post here, that's a must do under most circumstances.
Now that your monitor no longer displays the black screen, the problem is not related to the analog/digital receiver setting on the LCD, so I won't go into that as you requested.
Since in two separate systems the VGA behaves identically [with a flaw], it's very likely that the graphic card itself is the source of the problem.
As far as "updating the BIOS"; flashing the bios is the last alternative and I must warn you, as a user, you are most likely to void your warranty by BIOS flashing. Updating to existing online BIOS files (from unsafe providers) might appear appealing at first but trust me on this, each manufacturer has worked out the strengths and weaknesses and has tweaked their updates in a way that best serves their setup (mostly fan layout and so forth).
I will not assist you in flashing the bios because my suggestion is to contact the board manufacturer for further assistance. Even in some cases the manufacturers provide the latest bios via their websites without the need to contact them. But in general they must decide on an RMA or other course of action (user Bios flash); not you. The entire procedure (all the correspondences) will most likely take 4-5 working days.
Contact them with your system specs + details of the problem. If you receive no reaction from the board manufacturer then I will help out with identifying the source of the problem from the manufacturer side.

Best of luck
 

d4rksh4de

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Thank you JeffOnline, I have been searching solution for this problem for months. Setting the Memory Clock to 900 MHz worked instantly, no more flickering screen :)

Do you know how to fix this on linux (Ubuntu) also?
 

Jeffonline

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I'm glad it helped
Via memory resident solutions (such as Drivers and tweak software) you can only fix the issue temporarily, which is also limited to the supported OSs on the site (http://support.amd.com/us/gpudownload/Pages/index.aspx). To fix the problem on any other OS you must resort to the permanent fix solution that was mentioned in the initial article.
 

d4rksh4de

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Found solution for linux also. Works well on my PC.
If you have ATI proprietary driver installed then:
$ aticonfig --initial
$ aticonfig --odgc //show the possible clock range
$ aticonfig --od-enable //enable overdrive
$ aticonfig --od-setclocks=0,900 //set memory clock peak to 900 MHz, leave Core default
$ aticonfig --od-commitclocks //if everything looks fine, then this should save the settings, so after X restart settings will be reloaded
 

rokr047

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Thanks.

I updated my BIOS with Intel's update.

[ http://downloadcenter.intel.com/SearchResult.aspx?lang=eng&ProductFamily=Desktop+Boards&ProductLine=Intel%c2%ae+915+Express+Chipset+Family+Boards&ProductProduct=Intel%c2%ae+Desktop+Board+D915GAV&OSVersion=OS+Independent]

But, it did not solve my problem. I dont think my Motherboard is faulty cause i have been using it 4 the past 4 years and its going fine and one more thing i forgot to tell, it has an inbuilt Graphics Accelaratot -> Intel Media Graphics Accelarator. When my monitor is connected to this VGA port, the display is ok and everything is well. Only when i connect my ATI 4850, i have the problem that i mentioned before.

Does this mean my ATI 4850 os faulty and i have to RMA it.?
but i used it a couple of months back and it worked just fine....!
 

Jeffonline

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Dear Rokr047
Almost every instant of the word "BIOS" in this entire page, refers to your graphic card's BIOS (VGABIOS); I think you have confused it with your Intel MB's BIOS. There is no reason for me to believe your motherboard is faulty at all either; please re-read my last post, and this time consider the VGA BIOS instead. It's also worth mentioning that when I said "board manufacturer" in my last reply, I was referring to your VGA PCB manufacturer, (or Palit in your case).
So far we have narrowed down the problem to the VGA, the question now is whether it could be fixed via its Bios/Driver combination or the damage is to the hardware (which you will have to RMA the unit).
In your case having an onboard graphic can be a big advantage because if in the worst case scenario you end up flashing the BIOS and something goes wrong, you can immediately switch back to the onboard VGA to recover the flash (of course having two adaptors also makes updating a bit more complicated because you now have to be mindful of the adaptor number when flashing your BIOS).
Keep me updated about your correspondence with your VGA manufacturer…

Regards
 

AG-Wolf

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Jeff, I greatly appreciate your attention to detail with this issue... after being on the market for over a year, I can't believe ATI hasn't fixed it yet...

I'm posting because you seem to be relatively experienced with the problem. I'm running the Asus version of the 4870, their "dark knight" model. I had the flicker problem for a while, somehow managed to fix it about a month ago after playing around, and then when i updated to the newest Catalyst control center and device driver, it has returned. I haven't used Riva Tuner for anything...

The unique problem I'm having is that my card is not overclocked. Memory is at 900mhz. I noticed, though, that the GPU clock is at 500mhz under normal usage in XP but shoots to 750 whenever a video is loaded, whenever flash content is loaded, or whenever i start a game. It flickers again whenever i close the video/browser window/app.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v47PojFdj10

Like I said, i had somehow fixed the problem a month ago and was running fine (don't know why i decided to update the driver). I tried retrograding to the 9.10 catalyst software and driver but it didn't do anything... if you watch that video, right around 1:30 or so, i THOUGHT that was what I did to fix the problem before but apparently it wasnt. Do you have any idea what I might be able to do to get the card to stay in its 3D mode at 750mhz even while i'm just doing simple tasks?
 

AG-Wolf

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I have no option in my CCC to adjust/disable/etc the 2D clock... this thread:
http://foldingforum.org/viewtopic.php?f=51&t=6271&start=15

Has some people talking about different options in their CCC but I've never seen any of that.


I figured out my problem though... or at least the -current- iteration of the problem. the HDMI audio driver. If I open the "Sounds and Audio Devices" control panel and use the audio output on the ATI card, i get the flickering you see in the video. If I set it to my default audio hardware (motherboard), no issue.

I wish this were a simple "oh okay, I'll do that..." but -before- I updated to the 9.11 drivers, I was using the HDMI audio output for a couple days without any issue. I don't know why it suddenly makes such a significant difference now :/
 

Jeffonline

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Dear AG-Wolf

Thanks for acknowledging the efforts, I enjoy helping out (even when I'm not at work LOL)…
Believe it or not, it's not ATi® who has to fix anything. I'm not throwing the ball to other people's courts but as far as we are concerned the issue has been discussed extensively with our OEM partners. Unfortunately how and when they transfer the findings to their customers is not decided or dictated by the chip manufacturer and we can't nor want to define company rules. Personally I agree with you, this sort of problem [especially for something as simple as this] is damaging and leads to backlash on the general brand name, and from our perspective a blame game will lead nowhere.
Back to your issue…
The refresh rate setting adjustments that temporarily fixed your problem in previous versions, was definitely not the remedy and probably triggered another event which led to a temporary stability of your card. Just to prove the point, simulating the process with a clean install of the older driver didn't stabilize the VGA a second time around.
Upgrading to the latest drivers, resets the access settings on the BIOS reference charts and if there is a native problem with the BIOS/hardware it would highlight it – as in your case. Although your card is not OC-ed by default, it still switches its memory frequency – just like every other modern graphic card – to adjust to predefined performance levels and power consumptions. This is actually a feature to give you more grunts when the going gets tougher and to save power and prolong card life when you are under 2D apps.
I'm not trying to endorse any product or PCB manufacturer here but you might like to know that [IN MY PERSONAL / OFF THE RECORD opinion], Asus [again in my opinion] is the best partner we have ever had. Producing excellent board layouts, high quality cooling solutions and BIOS layouts that are closely following guidelines. No, I'm not an Asus employee and no, I'm not referring to any specific Asus model here but consistency, reliability, more headroom for OC-ing, customer support and a 3 year warranty is pretty standard in most cases with their products [usually at slightly higher prices in comparison to similar models from other manufacturers – but anyway].
My suggestion to you my friend, is to:
1 (temporary solution – easy n fast way out)- follow the steps outlined in my initial post and UNDERCLOCK your card – even when it's not overclocked - using the latest driver that you downloaded and only update your driver in situations that I'll describe at the end of the post…
2 (permanent solution)- Contact Asus and ask for further assistance by providing your VGA serial number. This will most likely lead to a BIOS flash.

I hope this solves your issue, as it did for many other visitors here. If you had any problems either way, leave me a note here and I'll assist you further more.
Regards


I understand that the flickering issue dramatically impacts the user experience and the interaction quality, thus creating a very frustrating situation all the times. Readjusting the CCC™ with every new driver release via the prescribed method in my post is simply asking too much from the unsuspecting end user as well, especially with a new driver release every month. However, it's only strongly recommend that you download and update to the latest drivers from the ATi® website in one of the following circumstances:
- A major change in your system setup [hardware or software: new PCI card, OS, etc.]
- A newly released title [demanding application or game] IN WHICH you are experiencing problems or noticeable frame rate issues.
- Outstanding issue with your hardware
It sounds as thou the third case for an update would be yours, but unfortunately the issue you are currently experiencing does not originate from the driver side of things, and therefore updating to the latest driver with the hope of fixing this particular issue is inappropriate. So only update accordingly to your special circumstance. I hope this thread, helps as many people as possible, but yes, you are right it's not enough!

 

Jeffonline

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Again, I believe you're solving the problem with what appears to be irrelevant remedies, but I'd have to praise your persistence for checking every permutation in the driver structure. LOL
Check my reply – if your VGA is stable for now and you prefer not to meddle with it [for now] it's your choice but later on you might run out of your warranty period / free customer care.
Good luck
 

AG-Wolf

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after attempting multiple different versions of the Catalyst driver and control center, all to no avail, I even tried underclocking the card and it still didn't solve the issue. :/

I know where you're coming from about Asus- that's actually the reason I got this iteration of the card. ive never had issues with any of their hardware in the past... my motherboard in this new machine would have been an asus if it weren't for the fact that I still needed a parallel port.

I already sent a ticket in through the asus or ATI website and explained the scenario, just waiting to hear back from them.

I don't know how irrelevant this fix might be if it seems to be the only thing thus far that has repeatedly "worked." There is a slight possibility that I had changed the audio settings way back the first time, but I would never have noticed as I have perpetually had a 1/8th inch photo plug going from my computer to my TV even with the HDMI cable. Whatever the case, I will definitely try to see this through, it's not really a big deal at this point but it annoys me more than anything now because it should just work. I know the issue isn't caused by anything I've done, I just hope enough people make the flashing problem -in general- known so that something gets done about it. I can't believe after a year on the market, these cards still have the problem
 

melitstom

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Hello

I have the following configuration :
intel i7,920, 3Gb corsair, MSI X58 platinum, 650W power, ATI RADEON HD 4870 (HIS), windows XP SP3, ati catalyst 9.10.
After installing COD MF2 , i have problems with screen lags every second, in some game sessions and especially while moving in open spaces. More accurate in multiplayer sessions "highrise", "rundown", "estate", "favela" if i move out of rooms or indoor spaces, i get lags every second, making unplayable. Also i need to mention that if i try to install 9.11 drivers the system is reseting during the procees. The 3D marks 06, gives me around 15700 and 15800 marks.

After reading this post i reduce clock settings, although the card is not overclocked. So i put GPU in 840 from 900 and memory another 8% down on the clock settings. There was a significant improvement indead. After this i set the fan manually in 45% and got another small improvement.
BUT the problem still exists in smaller scale and in all resolutions. It doesnt matter if i play 1920x1080 or 1024x768, the lags are the same. I can play all other fields in the game in HD, with settings maxxed, but in these 4 sessions i still have small gaps, but now i can play.

My question is, do you know any way to set a temperature limit in order to trigger the ATI card fan speed accordingly. Is there any other way to improve the system performance ?

Thanks a lot for the usefull advices so far.
 
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