If you’ve been using a desktop or laptop long enough, chances are you’re running into one of the common GPU issues that’s plagued gamers and workers alike since the humble graphics card was launched. The question is, do you know how to fix them? Otherwise, have no fear. We are here to help you.
Here are some of the most common GPU problems and how to fix them.
One of the most common graphics card issues is that it just doesn’t seem to work at all. If you’ve turned on your PC and found that it just doesn’t display anything on the screen, this can be a pretty tricky fix, as it’s not certain the GPU is at fault. A quick look at our PC troubleshooting guide will highlight a number of components that could be preventing your PC from booting up properly, but if you’re pretty sure it’s the graphics card that’s at fault, here’s some fixes you can try.
- Restart your graphics driver: Hurry windows key + CTRL + Gap + B. This will restart your graphics driver and may make your graphics card work again.
- Restart your PC and turn the monitor off and on again: It’s an old joke for a reason; Sometimes turning things off and on again can reset the cause of the problem. It’s an unlikely solution, but one that should be your first port of call whenever your GPU isn’t playing ball.
- Try another video output: Try plugging your monitor into another port on your graphics card. Try DisplayPort instead of HDMI, or vice versa.
- Try connecting to another screen: If you have a spare monitor handy, try plugging your graphics card into it to see if it’s the original screen or a compatibility issue.
- Reseat your graphics card: If you know the inside of your PC (or want to learn), try removing your graphics card and plugging it back in. You should also recheck the PCI-Express power connectors and consider reseating them as well.
- Try another graphics card slot: If your motherboard has multiple GPU slots, you can try plugging your graphics card into the second one. This may cause reduced performance on some motherboards, but if it works, it’s better than a black screen and may help you in your troubleshooting journey.
- Try another graphics card: If none of the above solutions work, you may need to use a different graphics card (or an integrated graphics card, if you can) to confirm it’s the GPU.
- Uninstall your GPU drivers: If you are able to get the system to work with another graphics card or the integrated GPU, try uninstalling your graphics card drivers. Then plug the GPU back in and try running your system from it and see if the default Windows drivers help restart it. If it works, you can reinstall your drivers afterwards.
If all the above still leaves you with a black screen, it’s possible that your graphics card is faulty or even dead. It might be time to consider a new graphics card.
When a graphics card has serious problems, it can sometimes exhibit something called visual artifacts. There may be strange colored squares or lines appearing on the screen, or you may see certain game elements flicker or appear to display incorrectly, or the whole screen may flicker. Here are some ways to diagnose the problem, and maybe even fix it.
- Disable overclocks: Are you overclocking your graphics card? Try disabling it. You may have pushed the map too far. Alternatively, reduce the overclock until the artifacts go away, or increase the voltage if you have some thermal and power headroom.
- Reinstall your graphics drivers: This is a common suggestion, but good for most GPU issues.
- Try another diet: If you have a spare, try using another power supply to see if the problem goes away. If your PSU is getting old or not powerful enough for your graphics card, it can cause display artifacts when pushed hard.
- Check if it is not overheating: Overheating is a major cause of GPU artifacts. Check your GPU temperatures and if necessary improve your cooling. Refer to Overheated section below, for more help.
- Check the card for signs of wear: Visual artifacts can be a sign that a graphics card may be running out of steam. Before you throw it away, however, check for any physical issues. Is a cable preventing a fan from spinning? Are the power cables properly inserted into the outlet? Is the card correctly inserted in its PCI-Express slot? Have any RAM heatsinks fallen off? Fix any of these issues if you spot them.
- Google-specific solutions for your card: Some cards will have common issues and others may have had an issue similar to yours. You may need to increase your card’s voltage or power limit, or simply improve its cooling. Some may even require dramatic changes, such as replacing the cooler. See if anyone else has a specific solution for your GPU.
If none of the solutions above work, you may have a GPU that will die soon. If you can, use another card or switch to a new card.
If you find that your graphics card isn’t producing the kind of frame rates or supporting the kind of resolution and detail settings that you expect, you can try the following to bring it up to speed.
- Reinstall your graphics drivers: You may have a corrupt or outdated driver that is not allowing your graphics card to perform to its full potential.
- Check your temperatures: Keep an eye on your graphics card temperatures, especially when gaming. If it is overheating, check the section below to see if you can improve performance by improving its cooling.
- Check if your GPU is powerful enough: Is your graphics card powerful enough for the game(s) you want to play? Check the system requirements for your favorite games to see if your GPU is powerful enough. If not, you might want to upgrade to something better.
- Overclock your GPU: If you want to improve the performance of your graphics card, try overclocking it to see if you can make it a bit faster.
If you’ve checked your GPU temperatures while gaming or transcoding and found that the card is thermally throttling or getting too hot for your liking, then it’s a good idea to try fixing it. A graphics card that gets too hot won’t perform as well as you want it to, and long-term overheating can shorten the life of the card.
- Clean your PC case: If your graphics card is overheating, chances are it doesn’t have enough access to cool, cool air. Check all of the dust filters in your case to see if they need cleaning, and remove dust from any internal radiators or coolers, including your graphics card heatsink. For more tips on how to do this safely and effectively, see our guide on how to clean your computer.
- Change your GPU’s fan curve: You might just need to tell your graphics card fans to spin up a bit to keep the GPU cool. Use MSI Afterburner to create a custom fan curve to improve cooling performance.
- Improve the cooling of your system: Increasing your GPU’s access to cool air may mean adding more fans. Try adding more or more intake fans to your case to increase the amount of cool air that reaches your card every second. You may also consider adding an exhaust fan (or more) to better exhaust hot air from the case.
- Cable management: If you have a lot of cables and wiring in your case, it can disrupt airflow and prevent cooling. Try tucking cables around the sides of the case or behind the motherboard tray to improve airflow through the case.
- Move all expansion cards: If you have expansion cards like a USB card or network card that sit very close to your GPU, try moving them to another PCI-Express slot to create additional space for cooling.
- Undervolt and underclock the GPU: If you are still having overheating issues, you can try reducing its voltage or even under-clocking it so that it draws less power and therefore less heat. Refer to our undervoltage guide for more information.
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