{this page: tv out problem with ati 9800 pro in a Dell XPS Gen 2}

From: lyberty
Date: Dec. 2004;
last updated: March 8, 2005
ATI Radeon 9800 Pro TV-OUT problem : Electrical Interference -- research and troubleshooting page

Keywords / Problem Summary:
ATI Video Card S-video out (also, and TV to PC connection, out or in): powerline noise, banding, TV out image, diagonal lines, ati radeon svideo, noise s-video, video out interference-like hum coming from my TV, the picture has lines that move up across the screen, electrical interference (interferance), electrical noise

I have a Dell XPS (gen 2) with an ATI Radeon 9800 Pro.
It comes with an S-Video out, with the implied functionality of hooking it up to your tv.
But when I hook it up to my tv (Sony Trinitron*, NTSC format), the picture quality is fine,
but there is a large band moving from the bottom to the top of screen; and diagonal (almost horizontal) small (ghost-like) lines moving from left to right.
These are coming from some kind of elecetrical interference; these lines are OVER the image
on the screen, and even appear when the TV out is disabled (using ATI control panel).
It does not matter if the image is sent as the standard 680x480 resolution @ 54 or 60 Hz*; I tried many resolution and Hz settings with no effect.

[Update: a new S-video cable changed it so that when TV out was disabled, interferance disappeared. See "So what did you try?" section below.]

Note that when I hook up my older PC (with a smaller power supply, and an NVIDIA based-graphics card) to the tv using the same (original) S-Video cable, there is no interference.

*Note: NTSC (North American television format) televisions display at 60Hz (actually 59.94Hz).

Searching around online hasn't been that helpful; but there does seem to be a recurring theme: this problem seems to happen with ATI Radeon
cards a lot. There are some claims like "it is not a card's fault; there's some grounding problem / noise problem
with the PC, or the cables." But then you see some people claiming that replacing the card with another brand fixed the problem.

There's a lot of talk about "you need better grounding" but how the hell do you Ground the PCI card? Or reground the power supply?
This doesn't seem to be explained anywhere. (Use "comments", below, if you know how to ground a PCI card.)

So if it's poor motherboard design, or PC power supply design, or Graphics Card design, there's really no excuse for it:
peripheral devices like DVD players, VCRs, PVRs (TiVo) etc. don't have this problem.

"From: "stodge"
Newsgroups: alt.comp.periphs.videocards.ati
Subject: 9200se TV Out problem...diagonal lines on screen
I am using a Radeon 9200se and the TV out image has diagonal lines all over
it. Does anyone know how to get rid of the lines?...because they basically
make TV out feature completely useless. I am using S-Video connection.

any help appreciated"
On a Dell b-board: " I have my TV connected to my Inspiron 4000 to watch DVDs. But when the AC plug is connected there is an interference-like hum coming from my TV, and the picture has lines that move up across the screen. When I disconnect the AC and run the computer on battery all this goes away."
"Same thing happens with my i8100, I would also like to know the answer to this one. "

The discussion "Powerline noise in captured video" talks about a similar problem, but the consensus is that the users
house just wasn't grounded properly. I don't think this is the problem though:

- if it's a general grounding problem, why doesn't the DVD create that electrical noise when connecting the same S-video cable from
the DVD to the television? [Update: tried hooking up my older PC with an NVIDIA card with an S-Video out: no interference at all.
So it's not a general electrical or grounding problem with my house.]

The closest thing to a potential solution I've heard:
From the pictures it looks like a ground loop i.e. signal feedback through the ground system.

Try this, go to the store and get a three wire plug tester. Test the outlets that you use to power you system. If you are using a surge protector/power strip test each outlet. Fix the problems as indicated.

Some motherboards are more sensitive then others.

Carefully check the PVR (tv-in / tv-capture) board for broken caps or loose wires.
Make sure that the mounting plate is tight to the board and screwed tight to the computer.

You can read a definition of a "ground loop" here. But the short answer is "A ground loop occurs when there is more than one ground connection path between two pieces of equipment."

Another person states "I've got round the problem by changing to a graphics card with VIVO.
(see topic RADEON VIVO) and viewing via a VCR. "

Common Replies to User Complaints About the Interference (Audio or Video) Caused by the PC:

- try new wires (insulated, etc.) or try running wires "parallel"
- Rip up your house wiring, take apart your wall plug, have a ground wire put on your wall plug, etc.
- It's a grounding problem (produces hum/static)
- It's a Ground Loop
- Make sure your card is seated firmly (PCI or AGP card pushed in all the way)

But again, I ask the question: why do I need to mess around with wiring, etc. if a DVD player, or Tivo, etc can handle being plugged into the same outlet as your PC and be connected to your tv via an S-Video cable?

Most likely answer: just poor engineering on the part of the PC manufacturer (or Video Card manufacturer).
I just think there's electrical interference bleeding into and through the Video card, through the S-video cable, to the tv.
Note that when I hook up my older PC to the tv using the same S-Video cable, in the exact same arrangement (same location, plugs, etc.) there is no interference.

So wouldn't a better question be: how can one better ground a PC power supply, or better ground the Video Card itself?

If a "ground loop" problem, this actually sounds intriquing: "Go to Radio Shack and get a Hum Eliminator. "
From Radio Shack: "Ground Loop Isolator -- Helps eliminate electrical noise and hum caused by ground loops. -- $17.00"
However, this item consists only of audio cables; so it's not going to help with the video problems.
They also have something called a "Plug-In Noise Filter" ($40), maybe I could plug the television into that??

Note that the manual provided by ATI has no useful information, and I could not find anything useful on the Dell tech support site
(also sent Dell a support request email, which was never responded to).

So what did you try?

1. Tried updating Radeon video drivers.
Result: No effect.

2. Tried playing around with the video settings in the Windows and ATI control panels.
Result: No effect
(Note that it does not matter if the image is set as the standard 680x480 resolution @ 54 or 60 Hz; I tried many resolution and Hz settings with no effect.)

3. Tried using an S-Video to standard (base-band, a.k.a. RCA video) Signal Converter. (from Radio Shack)
Result: Still getting interferance: Large band moving from bottom to top of screen; diagonal (almost horizontal) small lines moving from left to right.

4. Tried plugging the television into different sockets around the house (just in case there was some problem with having the PC and TV plugged into the same wall socket).
Result: No effect. Still have same problem.

5. Bought what was supposed to be a high-end S-Video cable with better shielding.
Result: I actually had some good results with this. The diagonal (ghost) lines actually disappeared, but I still had the bottom-to-top banding/interference (lines slowly crawling up screen).
Also, when the TV-out connection was disabled, the lines/interference disappeared. So now I only get the interference when the PC card is actually
sending a signal.
Since I used a shielded cable, and better shielding is supposed to better prevent outside electrical interference, part of the problem was, apparently, outside interference.
(Again, why this would happen for PC, but not for DVD player, is unknown.)

Resources: I don't remember what I paid for my new cable, but I refused to buy the overpriced one offered by Monster Cable.
If you're interested though, they claim their expensive "THX-certified Super Video cable" has
" Extreme rejection of radio frequency (RFI) and electromagnetic (EMI) interference—high-density double shielding ".
(Just remember that maybe 50% of the price of Monstor Cables pays for hype)

6. Tried reseating the Video card and checking cable connections. (No screws to tighten as my Dell PC uses a plastic connector.)
Result: No effect.

7.. Waiting on a new DVI-D to composite converter from ATI so I don't have to use the S-Video out...

[Update: Jan. 2005] So I got the DVI-D to COMPONENT (RGB) adapter (converter): $30. Picked up some component cables too (another $10). There is still a very slight "banding" going up the screen, but it's so slight you have to really look for it. But this solution didn't really work out,
because for whatever reason, the ATI controls can't seem to get the whole monitor image to appear on the tv screen. Even at the smallest setting
[Update: Jan. 13 ,2005: Apple is releasing an adapter (the "Apple DVI to Video Adapter") that connects DVI to either component
OR S-video. And for only $20.

This is Apple, which is notorious for overpricing items. WHAT EXCUSE DOES THE PC MARKET HAVE FOR NOT PRODUCING A COMPERABLY PRICED ITEM?

Check out, for example, this overpriced ($75.00 as of Jan 2005) PC to TV converter (though it does come with a choice of Composite Video, S-Video or YPbPr (Component) outputs, and the cables are built in...)


The control program offered by nVidia is much better too.!

[Update: August 2005] Interestingly, if I route the new (insulated) S-Video cable I got to my S-Video compatible VCR first (then S-Video out to tv from vcr), there are no visible interference lines AND I can use the ATI control program to resize the image on the television...)

Quote from board; Topic: S-Video Cable ATI to TV: Moving Bands

"I use S-video on my ATI 8500 and had the same problem, I found out the compression happens when the card resizes your desktop to the s-video resolution of 640x480. If you set your desktop to 640x480 then it looks fine, as good as my DVD player with component input (on Toshiba 36" tube TV anyway). The downside is that a 640 desktop bites because your DVD controls are massive and most windows don't even fit on the screen. Using less colors at 800x600 seems to help a little but going to 640 is the only way to get a perfect picture with "TV out"

View Equipment





*Sony FD Trinitron WEGA KV-27FS120 27 in. Direct View Flat Screen SDTV Television:
Interesingly enough, the plug on the Sony tv is only two prong (does not have third grounding prong).
But I think this is typical for televisions...

======================DISPLAY ADAPTER INFORMATION======================

Graphics Card Manufacturer           = ATI Technologies Inc. 
Graphics Chipset (ASIC)              = RADEON 9800 PRO 
Device ID                            = 4e48 
Vendor ID                            = 1002
Subsystem ID                         = 1002
Subsystem Vendor ID                  = 1002

Bus Type                             = AGP 
Current Bus Settings                 = AGP 8X 
Primary Display Device               = Yes 

BIOS P/N                             = 113-A07517-100  
BIOS Version                         = 008.004 
BIOS Date                            = 2003/05/06 

Memory Size                          = 128 MB 
Memory Type                          = DDR SGRAM / SDRAM 

Tuner Type                           = Not Detected
Decoder Type                         = ImpacTV2+ 
Video Standard                       = NTSC 
Audio Type                           = Not Detected

Display Drivers Version              = 8.082-041130a-019577C-ATI  
Display 2D Version                   =  
Display D3D Version                  =  
Open GL Version                      =  
Control Panel Version                =  

Graphics Card Manufacturer           = ATI Technologies Inc. 
Graphics Chipset (ASIC)              = RADEON 9800 PRO Secondary 
Device ID                            = 4e68 
Vendor ID                            = 1002
Subsystem ID                         = 1003
Subsystem Vendor ID                  = 1002

Bus Type                             = PCI 
Current Bus Settings                 = Not Detected
Primary Display Device               = No 

BIOS P/N                             = Not Detected
BIOS Version                         = Not Detected
BIOS Date                            = Not Detected
Memory Size                          = Not Detected
Memory Type                          = Not Detected

Tuner Type                           = Not Detected
Decoder Type                         = Not Detected
Video Standard                       = Not Detected
Audio Type                           = Not Detected

Display Drivers Version              = 8.082-041130a-019577C-ATI 
Display 2D Version                   =  
Display D3D Version                  =  
Open GL Version                      =  
Control Panel Version                =  

Discussion of connecting PC to Television

And the ATI controls don't let you resize or move the screen if you're using Y Pb Pr (composite) for some reason (they do for the s-video/tv out).
And they only allow 30, 60, 72, or 75 hertz (and above) settings, for some reason.
I tried playing around with the hertz and resolution, and the dongles, but that didn't help either:

(There are "dongles" on the DVI adapter that let you set your ouput to 480 interlaced, 480 progressive, 540 progressive, etc.)

Ok, so standard NTSC video is 525 lines of horizontal resolution, with 480 of those being visible, with interlaced scan [525/60 aka 480i].

But that doesn't mean you have to limit the output to that, right?
DVD is supposed to output 720x480, 704x480 or 352x480: so the tv (at 480 lines horizontal resolution) should be able to support a higher resolution height...
But the manual doesn't state the maximum supported display. I wonder what it is.

And is it better to select interlaced or progressive in the controls for optimal viewing on the tv?

I would guess that my tv doesn't support progressive scan content....