Dual monitors, flashing screens.

One of the things about knowing PCs is that you are often asked to diagnose problems friends are having, but I’ve never seen this one before…

An ATI Radeon 9600 runs fine with 1 monitor attached. On attaching the second monitor (via DVI-VGA connector), Windows boots, but the screen starts flashing on and off and eventually fades out to nothing!

To diagnose, I uninstalled all drivers and let Windows XP start up on its own, using the Microsoft drivers. Worked fine, other than both screens showed the same and dual monitors were not offered, however that at least proved the hardware was good.

Got the latest official ATI drivers, install, reboot and the problem is back. Tried tweaking options in the driver settings and couldn’t find anything that helped. But found that the ATI drivers install a program called atiptaxx.exe to start when Windows does (see Start/Run/msconfig/startup tab). By unchecking that program and preventing it from loading, the screen flashing problem vanished.

I find it odd that part of the drivers, that are apparently not required, are installed and then sometimes break things. I’m sure ATI have a reason for loading this utility, and I know there must be others out there who have the same problem. If they’re like my friend, they’ll try for a few hours and then give up, or perhaps then ask a friend. If so, perhaps you now have a solution.

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