Imagine you’re playing your favorite PC game, and the screen starts to glitch. Or, maybe you’re working on a design project for work, and your screen turns off. Both scenarios are common for users whose tasks demand a lot of graphic processing power. The monitor is something that users take for granted, but it’s key to the user experience.
What is a Graphics Card?
A graphics card is a piece of computer hardware that turns data into images. It’s what lets you see what’s on the screen right now. The processing and memory powers of a graphics card determine how well it can turn that data into smooth imaging; the more powerful it is, the better your imaging. Some synonymous names include a display card, video card, display adapter, or graphics adapter.
All computers come with an embedded graphics card on the motherboard. They are often referred to as integrated graphics cards and can carry out most computer users’ needs. Some users need more powerful graphic memory and processing power (like gamers and 3D graphic designers). Such users can install an additional, more powerful graphics card, also known as a discrete graphics card.
Signs of a Failing Graphics Card
A failing graphics card usually shows itself as a malfunctioning screen, but it can manifest itself in other ways. Here are a few ways you can spot a failing graphics card:
- Computer Won’t Reboot– If your computer crashes, locks up, can’t reboot, or experiences random restarts and powering off, it might have a problematic graphic card.
- Glitching– Screen glitches occur as tearing or weird colors appearing on the screen when a graphic card starts to fail.
- Fan Speed– A computer’s fan is there to keep your hardware components cool, including your graphics card. If it isn’t functioning well, then neither will your graphics card. If your fan is louder than usual or makes weird noises, you should clean or replace it.
- Stuttering– When a graphics card starts to fail, you could experience visual stuttering or your screen freezing. But before you attribute the problem to a failing graphics card, make sure to rule out other possible issues like RAM, malware, or a dying hard drive. A stuttering screen is usually one of many symptoms of a failing graphics card.
- Blue Screen– A blue screen can be due to several reasons, including problematic RAM or hard drive. But if a blue screen occurs when you start a program or game that is graphic intensive, then it’s likely to be your graphics card.
- Spots– If you notice strange objects on your screen, you may have a bad graphics card. Spots can appear because of heat, excessive overclocking, or dust buildup. Sometimes restarting your computer can solve the issue, but if it persists, you’ll have to consider other fixes.
Finding and Fixing Graphic Card Problems
Finding the core issue with a graphics card is a process of elimination. Start with the simple, non-invasive fixes then work towards the more complicated repairs.
- Loose Connections– Loose connections can cause malfunctions, but putting everything firmly in place can fix them. Ensure that the graphics card is firmly in place and that all secondary links are tightly fit.
- Accumulation of Dust– Particularly in laptops, dust can cause your graphics card to start acting up. This might require you to open up your PC or laptop and to clean it out.
- Drivers Issues– The problem could be the drivers on your graphics card or monitor. To fix the drivers, you might need to uninstall and reinstall them or update them. Use the graphics card manufacturer’s instructions to guide you during the uninstall and reinstall process; they each have their guidelines.
- Complete Card Malfunction– If you’re still unsure about a fix, and you want to be sure that it’s the graphics card that’s the problem, then switch it with a new one. If the new one works without any issues, then your only option is to replace or fix the old one.
- Overclocking– Graphics card failure often happens because of too much overclocking. Although overclocking at the stock voltage is safe, continually pushing the card to its limits with high usage can degrade its performance.
If you would like to know your graphics card’s status or capabilities, then you can carry out a benchmarking test. A benchmark test is how to check a computer graphics card. They push a graphics card to its limits to get an idea of what it can handle and at what resolution.
There is benchmarking software you can run to test your graphics cards. There are many options in the market, including free versions, such as 3D Mark Benchmark and Heaven Benchmark.
Running a benchmark test can also be useful to check if your graphics processing unit is stable if you have overclocked or built up your rig. It gives you the chance to catch any problems early on.
Prevention is Better Than a Cure
Since visuals are crucial to user experience, you can see how vital graphics cards can be. If all you do on your computer is edit documents or watch videos, then what comes with the motherboard is enough. Those with graphic intensive tasks have specific needs that require an additional graphics card.
Whichever graphics card is in use, the following still stays true; it’s through good habits and regular maintenance that a graphics card can perform for longer and better.