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Troubleshooting graphics card issues in Windows

Updated February 15, 2024

Are you having video problems when trying to play a game? Maybe your screen goes blank for a second or two? If so, here is how to troubleshoot the graphics card in your Windows-based computer.

Troubleshooting graphics card issues in Windows

If you are currently experiencing issues with the graphics on your computer, it may be due to a problem with your graphics card. You can take a few steps to diagnose the issue and potentially resolve the problem.

The first step is to check for updates. It's important to ensure that your graphics card drivers are up-to-date. To do this, you can visit the manufacturer's website and download the latest updates. This will ensure that your graphics card is functioning optimally and may resolve any issues you are experiencing.

Next, run a stress test. Using a graphics card stress testing tool, you can test your graphics card and identify potential issues. This will help you determine whether the problem lies with the card or another component of your computer.

The Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD) is a great diagnostic tool that includes a video memory stress test. All you have to do is download the latest ISO file and burn it to a CD/DVD or use Rufus to create a bootable USB drive.

You may have to change some settings in your motherboard's BIOS to get the UBCD to boot correctly. The UBCD is built on a Linux platform, so you may need to turn off secure boot and UEFI boot features temporarily.

Diagnose computer hardware issues with the Ultimate Boot CD

Create custom installation media with Rufus

While you test your graphics card, it is essential to monitor the temperature of your graphics card. High temperatures can cause issues with the card, so it's important to keep an eye on it and ensure it's not overheating. You may need to take additional steps to cool it down if it is. Most graphics card testing tools will include the ability to monitor the clock speed and temperature.

Here are some free graphics testing tools:

  • FurMark - FurMark is a popular choice for stress testing your graphics card. It's designed to push your GPU to its limits and help you identify any potential stability issues. With FurMark, you can customize your testing parameters, track your GPU's temperature, and clock speed in real-time.
  • MSI Afterburner - MSI Afterburner is a popular overclocking tool but also includes a built-in GPU stress test. This software is handy for gamers who want to optimize their graphics settings for a specific game. With MSI Afterburner, you can monitor your GPU's clock speed, temperature, and fan speed while running a stress test.
  • Heaven Benchmark - Heaven Benchmark is another popular benchmarking tool designed to stress test your graphics card. This software is handy for users who want to see how their GPU performs under different conditions. With Heaven Benchmark, you can customize your testing parameters and track your GPU's temperature and clock speed in real-time.
  • MSI Kombuster - Optimize your gaming PC's performance with MSI Kombustor, the ultimate stress test for your graphics card. With MSI Kombuster, you can use the preset testing parameters or customize your own. You can monitor your GPU's clock speed, temperature, GPU load, and GPU power. Note: MSI Kombuster only works with NVidia-based graphic cards.

Another factor to consider is physical damage. Examine your graphics card for any visible damage. If there is damage, it may need to be replaced. Handling your computer components carefully and avoiding any physical damage is important.

Finally, check your computer's power supply. Ensure that it's adequate for your graphics card. If it's not, you may need to upgrade your power supply to ensure that your graphics card is receiving the necessary power to function correctly.

These troubleshooting tips can help you identify any issues with your graphics card and ensure it's running at its full potential. Whether a gamer or a casual user, these tips can help you get the most out of your graphics card and improve your computer's overall performance.

In conclusion, if you're experiencing graphics performance issues, diagnosing the problem as quickly as possible is important. By following these steps, you can diagnose and potentially resolve any problems you are experiencing with your graphics card.

My Digital Toolbox 6

Every computer technician has at least one digital toolbox (I personally have over a dozen). Years ago, they used to be a stack of CDs/DVDs, but now they are USB flash and external drives. And the contents are constantly changing. So here is the latest version of My Digital Toolbox.

My Digital Toolbox 6


Main screen inside of Rufus 

Many companies that develop operating systems will create ISO (International Organization for Standardization) image files of their OS for users to download and install. This worked out excellent a few years ago when most computers came with CD/DVD drives. But now, finding a computer with a CD/DVD drive is challenging. So how do you use an ISO image to install software? One way is to create a bootable USB drive. When creating bootable USB drives, nothing is easier than using Rufus. I have used many bootable drive creators over the years, and Rufus is the easiest way of doing it. Rufus can create bootable USB drives from the installation ISO files for most Windows and Linux versions.

Rufus: Create bootable USB drives the easy way


Main screen inside of Paint dot NET

Paint.NET was initially meant to be a replacement for the Paint program inside Windows. But it has developed into a full-blown graphics program with features similar to Adobe Photoshop. Features include layers, history, plugins, special effects, and multiple file formats. The latest version of Paint.NET includes a graphics section for fine-tuning the hardware acceleration settings. Paint.NET is available from their website for free or from the Microsoft Store for a fee.

Paint.NET - Free Software for Digital Photo Editing


Main screen inside of CrystalDiskInfo

Would you like to know if the drive in your computer was healthy? You sure would, but most software for diagnosing drives will only tell you when they start to fail. With CrystalDiskInfo, you can find out the exact state of your drive(s). CrystalDiskInfo uses the same information as those other analyzers but with more precise results. This way CrystalDiskInfo can predict an imminent drive failure before it happens. It runs on the current versions of Windows and Windows Server.

CrystalDiskInfo - Crystal Dew World

Create custom Windows installation media with Rufus

Do you want to install Windows 11 but want to avoid using a Microsoft account to sign in? Or maybe you want to install Windows without BitLocker drive encryption. You can do both and more when you use Rufus to create custom Windows installation media.

Create custom Windows installation media with Rufus

There may be a time when you want to customize the installation options for Windows. Whether installing Windows with only a local user account or bypassing the Windows 11 hardware requirements, you might need to create a custom installation media for Windows at some point.

As a computer technician, I have had some experience building Windows images (including drivers and apps) for corporate distribution, and it is a reasonably complex process. It is not something the average computer user would want to do.

Now there are a lot of articles out there that tell you how to modify the registry during the installation of Windows. For an experienced Windows user, these registry tweaks can be tricky to implement.

But what if you could take all of those registry tweaks and incorporate them into an installation media and then use that to install Windows? You can do just that with Rufus. Rufus is a stand-alone program for creating bootable USB drives from ISO (International Organization for Standardization) files.

Rufus works exceptionally well for creating bootable USB drives from Windows and Linux ISO files, as well as for making a bootable UBCD (Ultimate Boot CD) USB drive for diagnostics. The list of options for each operating system varies, so here are the customizations you can make to the current version(s) of Windows installation media.

Windows 10

  • Create a local account with username
  • Set regional options to the same values as this user's
  • Disable data collection (Skip privacy questions)
  • Disable BitLocker device encryption

Windows 11 (includes all of the above plus)

  • Remove requirement for 4GB + RAM, Secure Boot and TPM 2.0
  • Remove requirement for an online Microsoft account

To create a bootable USB drive with Rufus, you will need an 8GB or larger USB drive, a Windows 10 or Windows 11 ISO file, and of course, Rufus. Remember that no matter what installation option you choose for Windows, you will need a legitimate product key to activate it.

  1. Download Rufus.
  2. Download and run the Windows Media Creation Tool for your version of Windows.
    Windows 11 / Windows 10
    The Windows Media Creation tool is a stand-alone program and does not require installation. Just start it up. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation. Accept the license terms, select the language, select ISO file as the media to use, and then select where to save the ISO file. Let the file download, and then proceed to the next step.
  3. Insert a USB drive (8TB or larger).
  4. Open Rufus. Since it is a stand-alone program, it does not require installation, just start it up. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

On the main screen you will find three (3) sections; Drive Properties, Format options, and Status.
The main screen in Rufus
Under Drive properties, make sure the USB drive you want to use is selected in the Device pull-down menu.

Right below the Device pull-down menu, you will find the Boot selection. Left-click the Select button, navigate to the ISO file you downloaded and select it. Rufus will recognize the ISO file and load default settings based on the operating system.

Usually, the default settings work perfectly, so there is no need to change them. Just go down to the Status section and left-click on Start. The Windows User Experience dialog box appears with the customizations that are available for the version of Windows you are working with.
Windows User Experience dialog box inside Rufus
Select all of the options you want to include in your custom installation media and then left-click on OK. At this point you should be ready to go.

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Repairing a PC can sometimes be expensive, and that is why we offer free basic in-shop diagnostics. Give one of our professional and experienced technicians a call at (602) 795-1111, and let's see what we can do for you.

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