PC screen blinks heavily with Event Viewer and Windows Search, fine otherwise

Specs

Lenovo T2454p 1920x1200 XD display with HDMI and Display Port inputs
ATi Radeon 9250 256MB AGP 8x with DVI output
DVI to HDMI cable

Asrock AM2NF3-VSTA (a 2007 mobo with AGP port and AM2 socket, so it’s the world’s most modern AGP one, along with a “twin” Intel model from Asrock too)
Athlon 64 X2 5000+ (2600 MHz Brisbane)
8 GB RAM (4x2GB DDR2-800)
640 GB HD, DVD-RW drives, floppy and card reader drive
Windows XP SP3

Afaik this system is only compatible with Windows XP 32 (and Linux, possibly Server 2003, not options anyway), in short it’s the price paid for its difficult hw combo. It has 8 GB RAM b/c memory is cheap enough and I wanted a quick swap file (I use ramdrive sw). Besides this, it’s a very standard computer.

What physical and programatical process can get that specifically Event Viewer and Windows Search (the OS bundled Start Menu -> Search with a magnifying glass as icon) cause screen blinks, and other programs not, possibly hundreds? I could expect blinking associated to a monitor cable (for all apps!!!), a game, a video specific program, a video resolution or refresh, but two desktop programs and the rest not at all???

The blinks are irregular but kind of continous. Windows Search (that attacks the screen connection more heavily than Event Viewer) even forced me once to force reboot b/c instead of blinking, the monitor was complaining about an illegal video mode, and Alt-F4 didn’t work.

It could be anything, but a couple of things do spring to mind.
Have you added any new hardware to the PC, after which this fault started to show?
If the answer to that is no, then it could be the PSU is struggling to supply enough current to one of the power rails.

If I remember correctly AGP GPU’s sometimes required a 4 pin molex power connector. Is there one connected, and if so, does it share power with any other hardware on that power rail?

If there is, for example, any HDD or optical drives sharing that power rail, try disconnecting at least couple of drives if possible, especially HDD.

Doing a Windows search obviously has to spin up drives, and it could be there isn’t enough current for the GPU to remain stable. That’s my chain of thought.

It’s an old system with more than likely an old PSU. Capacitors dry out with age, and cause problems with power delivery. The same applies to capacitors on the motherboard and other components.

The only other thing I can suggest is, remove the GPU driver and reinstall it.

Thanks but I’ve discarded any hw issue. It would affect most programs or preferably the most demanding, in watts, processor use, videocard use or anything. The computer has a lot better PSU and cooling than actually needed (I called it “standard” but it has been designed and built by an enthusiast with high quality although not extreme stuff, not by a manufacturer using a rational and economic approach; for instance it has a carefully choosen 120mm exhaust fan and a processor HSF adequate for double the power, so you hardly see it above 50ºC, only in summer while doing compressed partition backups). The point is that neither Windows Search nor Event viewer are “heavy gaming” or even “heavy use”.

I’ll try reinstalling the GPU driver. It shouldn’t hurt (specially with a previous image backup just in case).

Background:

The OS install is from 2007 and for sure has developed failures. I would have to reinstall XP but “the system” is in war against XP and the system is powerful so I’m trying to avoid it. For instance my computer has complained about “lack of resources” when trying normal installs or uninstalls of sw. It’s a sw problem so no wonder. This is possible, likely, it doesn’t attack the gravity law.

If Windows Search or Event Viewer were just hanging or throwing strange errors, no wonder. But they’re attacking the video output, even managing to alter the video mode (to an illegal one to boot). And only they do it. Blinks alone aren’t that hard to get but something must affect the DVI transmitter, so that the monitor “doesn’t understand” and goes to black. How can these light desktop utilities, and only they, affect the DVI transmitter? What is the relation? I’m stunned.

Notes on the hw:

This rig can do much heavier things than doing Windows Search or Event Viewer. It can visit heavy web pages, doing partition images with compression, Media Player, at least one game full screen (although ancient and not demanding, Timeshock! that requires win98 compatibility setting for the sound, the card is DX 8.1 anyway).

The PSU is a Corsair VX450 with a single 33A +12V rail. It is for another class of hw, it could feed my other rig based on a 3,2GHz Deneb X4 125W and a 4890 190W but possibly 130-140W in practice, that totals 330W in 3dMark06 at maximum, but it’s feeding a 65W processor and a 35W video card that doesn’t have power connectors (nor fan) (AGP bus is limited to 42W) (the heatsink feels somewhat hot so it’s dissipating well). A DVD drive idle is about 5W and the HD 10 Watts at most (when I was more at this I heard an HD can consume like 25W when switching on and that there were/are mobos that can switch the HD’s on one by one to avoid power issues, but I only have one HD and no problems at boot up, the HD only stops when I turn off the computer so there’s no extra power for using it).

Previusly this rig had a more powerful videocard (an X1950pro 70W, that had molex connectors in fact), but it broke 2 months ago (system wasn’t posting and I had to detach everything except processor and listen beeps etc to diagnose). Consumption was 190W maximum with the ancient card, so it should be like 160W during heaviest gaming now.

There should NOT be any relation. That’s why I figured it maybe your GPU was not getting enough power, or clean power to be stable.
If re-installing the GPU driver doesn’t cure it. Why not image the system drive, then do a fresh install of XP. Minimum install with Windows updates and any required drivers.
Test Windows search again, if its fine you can almost certainly rule out any hardware issue.

Well, both Windows Search and Event Viewer are running fine now. I have neither reinstalled the GPU drivers nor reinstalled Windows for the moment. Possibly the “cause” were chkdsk errors, finally fixed.

Details

Before using these two programs, I had uninstalled a few games (I wasn’t using them here anyway, but once I lost the capable vcard they were just wasting disk space), an instance of SQL Server Express and other related sw (that was here for an ancient course, I preferred the secondary rig for this bulky stuff), I had deleted the partition where the games were and shrunk the C: partition where SQL Server and etc were, and for some reason I set a chkdsk c: /f for boot up.

This found hundreds of “orphan file record segment” and deleted them. If I’m right the “orphan” thing is a “record segment”, not a “file” (it’s “orphan fileRecordSegment”, not “orphanFile whatever”), but before understanding it right I was expecting orphan files recovered, so I did a search for them (*.chk in C:). This was when I got the blinking, twice or 3 times rebooting in between hoping to fix. I also lauched Event Viewer to get the chkdsk output at boot up, more binking.

Afterwards I did other chkdsk c: /f at boot up because chkdsk c: found more errors. In this case I wasn’t sure if these were important (chkdsk c: uses to report “false” errors in Windows, at least in my experience), but chkdsk fixed 3 errors more at boot up as I’m seeing now (2 unused index entries of the same file and 1 unused security descriptor).

Finally I did a defrag of C: , MyDefrag with a somewhat complicated script. Shrinking the C: partition had put the files upside down respect to what they’re used to be for years, because the script pushes the “least important files” towards the partition’s end, leaving free the preceding zone and 2 or 3 smaller ones. If the partition is shrunk, these files have to be moved somewhere so they fill the previously free zones. In theory there’re 4 GB free yet, but the NTFS reserved space fills a lot of it. The MyDefrag script includes a solution for this: leaving some MB free just after the MFT (10 or 20% the MFT size), so it’s set up as NTFS reserved space at next boot. I know this shouldn’t break anything, but since the C: partition layout is as it used to be, the DVI transmitter works well :stuck_out_tongue: .

More likely the errors found and fixed by chkdsk were causing a problem to Windows Search, and Event Viewer to a lesser extent. The relation to the DVD transmitter must be via the GPU drivers, possibly affected by these errors too. I perfectly know this is a “lazy” explanation.