Suspected Video Card issue

I recently installed 64-bit openSUSE 11.2, and since then I’ve been having an issue whereby the OS runs fine for a few minutes (maximum 10) and then the laptop just completely shuts off without any kind of shutdown process running or anything like that.

It is the same behaviour that my laptop exhibits when I am playing games on Windows.

As such, I suspect a video card issue. I can hazard 2 (uninformed) guesses.

  1. that the video card is having to do some fairly heavy-duty work, and doesn’t like it at all.
  2. that there’s something about the 64-bit version of openSUSE 11.2 that the video card doesn’t agree with.

I hesitate to pin the problem to an exact cause as I really don’t know what it is. I’m also somewhat dubious about blaming 64-bit since I can run 64-bit Windows 7 quite happily, in which case it may possibly be due to lack of driver support or something.

The video card in use is an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3400 Series.

If you suspect that this behaviour may not be a video card issue, please say so, and then we can see about getting the thread moved to the appropriate forum (or I can start a new thread in that forum, based on new details that may have come to light).

If anyone needs any more information to help them diagnose a problem, please don’t hesitate to ask. However, please be clear and concise about what log files I need to access, and what commands I need to execute in order to provide the relevant information.

Thanks in advance :slight_smile:

Hello ijzerengel. Sorry to hear of your problems. A computer that suddenly shuts down on both Linux and Windows does have a hardware or BIOS issue. The most common issue is over heating. I missed if you said how old the computer might be, but I would go buy a can of Duster or similar product and blow out all air vents (bottom and side), particularly around the CPU heat sink. You might be surprised of the dust buildup that can occur. I also had a problem with a Dell two years ago that was a BIOS problem, shutting down the computer, thinking it was too hot when it was not. So first, clean out the vents and heat sinks, second check for a BIOS update and update your BIOS if a newer one exists. Only do so on wall power and clean out the vents first.

If you do clean out the vents and do a BIOS update and the problem persists, almost any other component could be bad I suppose from memory, hard drive, video card and power supply, but you may need professional help (as in factory help) to make that determination. If after the first two steps I suggest you have no satisfaction and if the laptop is more than three years old, it may just be time for a new one. Please advise if this has helped you in any way and good luck.

Thank You,

I agree with jdmcdaniel3’s assessment.

I’ve seen similar symptoms something like 6 or 7 years ago on an old PC. Cleaning the PC of dust solved the problem. Of course significant care was needed when cleaning the PC to avoid an inadvertent electrostatic shock from zapping any PC component and destoying some PC component.

I also had another case, with similar characteristics (but not identical), where in this 2nd case it was a memory problem. In the case of the bad memory the PC would freeze with a black screen, but not switch OFF. Fortunately that was relatively easy to diagnose as I was trialing a new memory bank in that PC (that I had recently inserted) and by changing memory bank order in the PC I was able to solve it in that second case.

IMHO if the PC is truely switching itself OFF , and not freezing, then it is most likely to be thermally related. Either the BIOS or PowerSupply could do this, although my experience is Power Supplies do not always shut down so abruptly when they have a power problem, but there are seconds of degradation before the shut down (however I also confess my experience is not all inclusive). I have had bad hard drives and bad video cards, but I have never experienced an abrupt shutdown in such cases - usually there is degradation 1st. I have seen freezes but typically the PC was still powered for me (with a black screen, but one can hear the slight power supply hum). I’ve also seen Ethernet cards (or drivers) cause such a problem. Of course now adays the ethernet devices are on the motherboard.

If you can keep the PC powered for 10 minutes, you can boot to a liveCD and quickly mount the hard drive and copy all files from /var/log to a memory stick (use root permissions so as to not mess around since your time is limited). Probably /var/log/messages and /var/log/boot.msg or /var/log/boot.omsg.

If it is a thermal shutdown, that log file should state this to be the case.

Ergo if I had to place money, I would go with jdmcdaniel3’s 1st suggestion.

Thank you both for your helpful input and suggestions :slight_smile: I will acquire some Duster or similar as soon as possible, and then let you know how it goes.

For reference, the laptop is nearing 3 years old now, so I appreciate it won’t be as snappy and responsive as when it was new, but considering the amount of use it has had, I think it’s doing rather well :slight_smile:

Also, oldcpu, I will get on that log file situation when I can (I’m a bit busy tonight) and then I’m on holiday, so I’ll get back to you when I can.

Once again, thanks for all your suggestions :slight_smile:

Further to the overheating issue, it may also be caused by improperly applied thermal interface between processor and heatsink. I’ve seen elastomer-based (thermal tape) interfaces that didn’t even melted properly, degrading contact with time. In this case I had to remove the tape, re-polish the surfaces and apply thermal paste.

This is something relatively easy to do in a desktop, but not in a laptop. for that you’ll need a technician - one that knows what (s)he is doing.