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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 2

My Digital Toolbox

When it comes to computer repair, every technician has a collection of software that they use regularly. Whether on a CD, DVD, or USB drive, these programs are essential to diagnosing different computer-related issues. Here are just a few of my favorite programs that I keep in my digital toolbox.

Recuva

The main screen inside of Recuva

I get many calls from customers that say they accidentally deleted a file and want to know how they can get it back. When it comes to simple data recovery, nothing beats Recuva. From photos on memory cards to documents on your hard drive, the easiest way to recover a deleted file is with Recuva. So if you have accidentally erased a files, give Recuva a try.

Click here for more information on Recuva

Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD)

The Ultimate Boot CD main menu

Another of my favorite diagnostic tools is UBCD. It contains a bunch of useful programs that run from a Linux based CD. All of the applications provided on the UBCD are free of charge. The programs included in it range from memory diagnostics to hard drive erasers. And it has the best selection of hard drive manufacturer's diagnostic programs you will ever find. UBCD does come as an .ISO file that you can burn to a CD, or load it on to a USB drive. Their website has all of the instructions on how to do it. UBCD is a private fund project, so if you find it useful, please donate.

Click here for more information on UBCD

Diagnostic and Recovery Toolset (DaRT)

The main screen for the Diagnostic and Recovery Toolset

My all-time favorite set of diagnostic tools is DaRT. It is not just one program but a complete set of diagnostic tools that boots up on a version of Windows (depending on what version of Windows you build it on). It is similar to the system recovery disk you can make inside of every version of Windows, but it also includes various programs that you can use for diagnostics.

DaRT has quite a few programs straight out of Windows, like File Explorer, Registry Editor, and Computer Management. It includes Crash Analyzer, SFC (System File Checker), and Locksmith (resets passwords for local accounts). When you create the DaRT media, you can configure what programs are going into your DaRT build.

Now here is the downside. DaRT is part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) and is only available to Microsoft's Volume Licensing Service, MSDN, or Action Pack subscribers. But if you or your company has one of these subscriptions, DaRT is one tool you'll be glad you have in your digital toolbox.

Click here for more information on the Diagnostic and Recovery Toolset (DaRT)

Diagnose computer hardware issues with the Ultimate Boot CD

Every computer repair technician has a hand full of software they regularly use to diagnose computer hardware issues. They are usually bootable disks, and they have their operating system included (FreeDOS or Linux). But carrying around all of these disks can be kind of a nightmare. But luckily, there is a solution to this problem called the Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD).

The Ultimate Boot CD main menu
The Ultimate Boot CD main menu

UBCD is a bootable CD that contains the most complete set of computer hardware diagnostic tools I have ever seen. There are diagnostic tools for testing BIOS to memory and everything in between. It includes programs like Memteset86 and Windows Memory Diagnostics for testing memory and Data Lifeguard (Western Digital) and SeaTools (Seagate) for testing hard drives. In fact, it has an extensive collection of hard drive utilities.

All of the software contained inside of the UBCD is non-commercial (freeware) and is free to download. It comes as an ISO image that you can burn to a CD, or create a bootable memory stick from it. You can even add more programs to it if you like. The UBCD is like the Swiss Army knife for computer hardware diagnostics.

I have to warn you that some of the programs inside of the UBCD can render your hard drive unreadable or completely erase the data from it. The following is a list of the program categories inside of the UBCD. For a complete list of utilities included in the UBCD, please visit their website (see link below).

  • BIOS (Basic Input Output System)
  • CPU (Central Processing Unit)
  • HDD (Hard Disk Drive)
    • Boot Management
    • Data Recovery
    • Device Info and Management
    • Diagnosis
    • Disk Cloning
    • Disk Editing
    • Disk Wiping
    • Installation
    • Partition Management
  • Memory
  • Others
  • Peripherals
  • System

Now for all of the Geeks out there, here's the technical information on the UBCD. The UBCD is formatted using the FAT (File Allocation Table) file system and operates one of two Linux boot loaders, SYSLINUX (default) or GRUB4DOS. From there, you can start either a Linux based or DOS-based utility. UBCD is also customizable, so you can add any floppy or ISO image or FreeDOS based application to it (see link below).

The UBCD is a privately funded project, and donations are encouraged. So, if you find the UBCD as useful as I do, please donate (see link below).

For more information on the UBCD, follow the links below.

Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD)

How to customize the Ultimate Boot CD

Donate to support the UBCD project

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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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