I decided to stress test my videocard. I let ATI Tool run for upwards of 45 minutes. The card became really really hot but my system was still stable. So what is causing my computer to lock up hard while I'm trying to enjoy the greatness of TF2? Well it turns out it's Steam.
Steam is Valve's hybrid store/game launcher/community/baby eating abortion in software/ thing. I put TF2 into windowed mode brought up the task manager and decided to watch resource usage during a game. As it turns out Steam and TF2 (hl2.exe) are in an arms race secure as much as my ram as possible and then some. Yes Steam makes me hit swap. Now Windows has the worst swap management ever. If you hit swap your system performance will not recover in when you the available ram to keep applications in memory. TF2 is hitting swap because Steam is requesting more ram, this ram has to come from somewhere, so windows decides to swap the biggest memory whore on my system, TF2. So TF2 needs to be swapped out and this happens many many times. This accounts for "freezing up", but in window mode my mouse is available and taskman is already up and running so I can kill Steam which is taking up 100% of my CPU time. Way to go Valve. I have 1GB of ram by the way. This should be more than enough to run Steam and TF2. So next up is to bump up my ram.
For a while now my PC has been exhibiting some odd behavior, but only while trying to play a game. This is most unfortunate considering I just shelled out money for the Orange Box. I bought the game to play TF2 (I'm not a HL2 fan, and it's not up for debate) and at first it was fine. I played an hour solid no problem. When I go to play again I'm freezing one minute into the damn game.
I've had this issue before, my NVIDIA 6800GT was overheating and the temperature monitor was there to proove it. So my friend loaned me his ATI X800 and then I was able to play mah games again, and the masses were pleased. Now this problem is back to haunt me yet again. And again the graphs confirm that the card starts to overheat really fast. ATI tool has a nifty tempature monitor and it has a 3d mode so I fired it up, the temperature begins to climb. What's odd is that the scene (a fuzzy cube) doesn't seem to be that complex I guess the test is to exercise the shader pipeline.
Does anyone have any idea what would cause two video cards to overheat in such a short time period (two months)?