View Full Version : Strange graphics error (garbled colors)

May 07, 2006, 04:33 PM
After thoroughly searching the forums I cannot seem to find a fix for my problem.

I've been playing the game for several weeks now without a hitch. Today while I was clicking through the opening menu the graphics scrambled into a bunch of colors. Alt-tabbing out of the game and returning fixed this problem for a few seconds, and then it reverted back to the scrambled colors. This usually happens during the menu process, though occasionally I'm able to reach the game itself before it becomes garbled again.

My system is as follows:
P4 2.6 ghz
ATI Radeon 9000 64 mb
512 mb ram

I have the latest drivers for everything.

Can anyone help? Thanks!

May 07, 2006, 09:35 PM
Attached is a screenshot of the garbled mess. I find it interesting that the game functions normally for about 30 seconds, and then the screen scrambles. This seems to be a function of time as opposed to clicking through the various options.

May 07, 2006, 11:26 PM
Is your video card old? I ask because that looks like a heat issue. Does it affect other full-screen 3D games?

May 08, 2006, 01:17 AM
Nah it hasnt affected other games thus far. Given that it was working fine for weeks, could it still be a heat issue? I suppose I could try underclocking my video card.

May 08, 2006, 01:42 PM
Alright I underclocked the GPU from 240 to 195 and it had no effect on the appearance of the garbled screen. Has anyone seen this before?

May 08, 2006, 01:58 PM
Did you install any new software / hardware recently? New drivers, windows update, something?

May 08, 2006, 04:22 PM
Nope not that I can think of. Here's another screenshot:

May 08, 2006, 08:45 PM
So if I follow you correctly, the game's initial menus look normal. You click through a few selections, such as picking the saved game to load for example, and at some point the display kinda takes a dump and looks like this?
I'd do some easy stuff if it were me. I'd clear my game's \cache folder (hidden on C:) and delete my civilizationiv.ini & civilizationiv.ini.bak (in the My Docs\My Games). Reboot then try to play.
If I see the symptom persists, then even though you haven't touched them, I'd reinstall my video drivers. I'd also reinstall the April version of DirectX 9.0c. Reboot & try the game.
Finally, I'd post that screenshot on's forums ( to see if those folks (hardware addictions are legion there), recognize any likely causes.
Please let us know how it goes or if you resolve it.

May 08, 2006, 09:50 PM
Alright, so I reinstalled the game, deleted the cache and settings files, reinstalled drivers, and even reverted back to Catalyst driver version 4.12 as suggested by some other posts. None of that worked.

I decided to open directx diagnostics and run the functionality tests. The Direct3d 7 test worked fine, the 8 test turned scrambled after a short amount of time, and the 9 test scrambled even faster. I tried underclocking my gpu and memory speed by roughly 20%, which remedied the scrambling in all three cases. This seems to indicate it may be a heat issue. Unfortunately, Civ4 does not benefit from the underclocking. Even underclocking by roughly 35% has no noticeable effect on the time before it goes scrambled.

I have tried cleaning out my air vents and even the inside of my laptop with compressed air, but nothing helps.

Another interesting thing that happens is that if I let the screen stay scrambled for a few minutes, it starts to spread to the desktop as well. That is to say, even after exiting the game the screen is partially scrambled. When I open up my video adapter settings, some things are noticeably different. For one, my maximum resolution is somehow much much greater than it is normally (2049xsomething instead of 1450x1260 or something similar). When I go into the advanced settings, the monitor settings are different as well. Ordinarily the box saying "hide refresh rates my monitor is not capable of" is checked, leaving 60 hz as the only choice. While scrambled, this box is greyed out and there are much higher choices available.

What does this mean!

I'll try posting my problem to the rage3d forums and will update if I find out anything.

Attached is an image of my direct3d test

May 09, 2006, 12:41 AM
If you decide it's heat, I'd encourage you to back up any "can't lose" data to another computer, a CD, or a DVD. If that's your work or school notebook, I hope the repair is fast and easy.