How to Check If Your Graphics Card is Working Properly and How to Save it
Being a gamer or a tech enthusiast, optimum hardware performance is vital for the output we want from our machines. And since your PC is usually a closed box, there sometimes lurks a doubt whether your graphics card is working properly or in some cases, it’s failing.
How does one address such doubts? Well, luckily, with the various advanced tools and technique at our disposal, we can be sure of it and decide whether we need an upgrade or not. Whether our graphics card is working properly or not.
In this article, I will be discussing graphics cards status only and the signs that are indication of your GPU being failing/dying. Keep in mind that I am assuming that have already ruled out software as the probable cause of the issue.
Let’s start with the symptoms first:
Signs Your Failing Graphics Card Might Have
1. Visual Artifacts in Every Game
Alright, this can be a little tricky as these days, graphics drivers have also been reported to cause various issues like crashes and abnormal visual output. However, if you are getting these artifacts on all the games you own then there is something to worry about.
Sometimes, these artifacts will go away with lowered graphics settings but if they appear again after some time and eventually crashing the game, it’s definitely a bad sign.
2. Frequent Crashes on Resource Hungry Games
If you own a descent GPU that’s good enough for HD gaming, it should atleast boot up the game (with high requirements) even though FPS might be crappy. And if the game/s crashes every time in first 5 minutes, it can also be considered as a bad sign for your GPU.
For instance, I had a GTX 660 and I wanted to try out The Division beta on it. I know it’s a powerful card but the game is pretty much playable on medium on it. The game booted perfectly fine and I played it like for 10 minutes. Weird artifacts started popping up first and then in no time, the game go crashed.
Since I used to play MMOs mostly, I didn’t really notice that my GPU is dying. Then I tried to boot up The Witcher 3 and it crashed faster than The Division. This made me realized that it’s time stress test my GPU.
3. Texture Popups, Weird Colors
You booted up a game, and you suddenly noticed that those texture are weird and even the color scheme is not how it’s supposed to be. You googled the issue and came to know that people facing the same issue are almost non-existent. You tried another game and it had similar issues? Seems like your graphics card is sick and you might need a replacement.
4. The Obvious One, Weird Sounds
Most Graphics cards aren’t that noisy. If the CPU is a few feet away from you, chances are that you might not even hear its noise. But if you are and it wasn’t like this earlier, your GPU needs your attention.
These are some of the main signs that indicate that your graphics card is not working the way it’s supposed to and it might very well be dying. To confirm the unusual performance output, you should run a stress test.
Stress Test Your Graphics Card
As mentioned before, if you want to be more certain about the health of your graphics card, stress testing can be a reliable solution. Although there are various ways to do that, FurMark has been proven to be a reliable tool for the stress tests.
If you are still skeptical about the results, you can also use other tools and being a gamer, you can also make you use of in-game stress tests some games offer. Here are some of the scores of some GPUs which can serve the purpose of reference. Or you can google the optimum results for the specific graphics card.
If your GPU was able to complete the stress test even though the results weren’t optimum, there might still be some life left in it and it could very well be overheating or dust hindering its performance. But if it crashes in between, chances are that it might be far from saving.
Now the Saving Part
GPU performance, hardware wise can be hampered due to multiple reasons. Now it’s obvious that you need to rule out these causes before you discard your graphics card. First thing you need to check is your fan speed. If your fan is not cooling properly at the proper speed then the overheating can cause any of the signs mentioned above.
You can tweak your fan speed using different tools and check if it fixes the problem. Needless to say if your fan has tons of dust, just cleaning it could save you a lot of trouble.
Another factor is voltage and power. If your graphics card is not getting the optimum power or stable voltage, like any other electronics device, it will not work properly. So yes, before you labeling your card as dead, you should check if your power supply is working properly. There are various utilities available which can help you do that however, if you want to be certain, check your GPU or power supply on another system.
Another factor though rare can be the cause too. The slot on your motherboard might not be able to identify your GPU properly especially due to dust. In that case, try switching the slot and you might save yourself some money.
And before we discuss the bizarre baking solution, there is another thing you can try as it can prolong some life of your dying GPU. It has been known (yes, i have tested it and it worked for me) that lowering the GPU clock frequency can help dodging the crashes in case of some GPUs. This will obviously impact performance but if you are out of budget and need more time to save for the new GPU, it can be helpful. EVGA precision X is the tool you should try. You will have to experiment a bit to find the optimum value as done in overclocking case. In my case, -104 worked like a charm for a few months.
And now the baking solution. If nothing works and you are desperate, just bake the damned thing hoping to get some circuits kick in and bring your card back to life. I won’t recommend it but if you want it, no one can stop you from doing that, can one?
Don’t Jump to Conclusions Fast
The complexity of software and hardware these days is mind blowing. There are dozens of factors controlling one thing so if one result wasn’t good, you should not draw your conclusion yet. Make sure you test your graphics card properly with proper cross reference. In most cases, dust is the culprit so make sure that you clean your CPU on the regular basis to avoid the permanent damage. If your GPU is overheating, you should find a solution for it as it can drastically reduce your GPU life. Proper ventilation is also crucial for its optimum performance.
So these are some of the things that can elaborate the status of your graphics card to you and if you are gamer buying expensive GPUs, you should know about this stuff anyway. If you have a story of your own related to a dying GPU and how you fixed it or prolonged its, life do share with us in the comments below!