Tuesday, November 15, 2011


This day started off normal, but got shitty fast.

I haven't upgraded my video card since I built this system several years ago, so it still has the original Radeon 5850. A few weeks ago, I saw a review of the Radeon 6950 "Twin Frozr III" from MSI, and it was both significantly faster and ran 15-20C cooler under load than my 5850.

It wasn't expensive, either. Win-win-win.

I installed the card on Sunday in about 15 minutes, and not only was it quieter, it was even cooler at the desktop by 5C. Awesome upgrade.

This video card was specifically purchased for one game: Skyrim. I was able to use "ultra" settings at 1920x1080, add a few visual enhancements to shadows and whatnot, and it still ran as smooth as butter.

I hadn't been able to spend much time in Skyrim, and I had decided to walk everywhere in the game (savoring and stuff), so I hadn't seen much, but I was going to spend several hours today playing, then write up impressions.

A storm came through this morning (believe it or not), so I shut down my PC (which I rarely do) for the first time since installing the new video card. Storm passes, I sit down at my desk and turn on the system, and I'm ready to go. Damn, that video card was a great upgrade. Great!

System boots to the desktop, stuff loads up--hmm, what's this? It's Christmas on my screen--red and green blotches.

About 10 seconds later, I get a message that the display driver had failed, but had now recovered. Aces.

2 seconds later, Christmas is back.

All right, I can sort this out. Let's try a reboot first. Same. Can I boot into safe mode? Yes. Tried to install a driver, Catalyst couldn't find the card--or something.

Rebooted. Christmas. $*$*#*#*! Tried rebooting into safe mode, got a certain distance into the process, and froze. Can't figure out why until I look at the top of the screen, and there's a little row of Christmas at the very top.

This is why I don't upgrade hardware very often. 15 years ago, dicking around with this for a while would've been no big deal. Now, even 30 minutes wasted blasts a big FUBAR into my day.

All right, damage control. I pulled out the wonderful new card that is now apparently dead and put in my old, slow, reliable 5850. Which booted flawlessly to the desktop and everything works fine now.

Adios, upgrade.

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