How to Troubleshoot Nvidia Graphic Cards

By Craig McPherson

When something goes wrong with an Nvidia graphics card, the cause is difficult to troubleshoot and even more difficult, if not impossible, for the consumer to fix. Your choices will generally fall into two categories: hardware failure and driver issues. The former is the larger hassle of the two, as you may need to send in your card for warranty repair.

Things You'll Need

  • Windows administrator access
  • ATI Tools
  • Nvidia drivers

Hardware Tests

Step 1

Observe when your Nvidia card fails. Notice if the issue occurs during periods of high stress, like inside of a game or while rendering video. If so, there may be a hardware issue.

Step 2

Launch a game or other video-intensive piece of software. Allow it to run for a few hours. Listen for your graphics card's fan (if present) to start spinning at a faster speed while the program is running. If the program crashes, the computer locks up or Windows gives you a "blue screen of death" error message, this usually indicates a hardware issue.

Step 3

Download ATI Tools from to your desktop and double-click its icon. ATI tools will stress test your graphics card by rendering a graphically demanding 3D image. Follow the installation prompts and create an ATI Tools shortcut on your desktop. Double-click the shortcut to launch the program. Click the "Scan for Artifacts" button to begin stress-testing your graphics card. Allow the test to run for an hour and check for any graphical errors or "artifacts" produced in the window displaying the "cube" inside of ATI Tools. If any artifacts appear, your graphics card most likely has a hardware issue and will need either repair or replacement.

Driver Re-Installation

Step 1

Point your Web browser at the Nvidia driver download page at Re-installing your drivers starts you with a "clean slate" and eliminates corrupt drivers from the troubleshooting equation.

Step 2

Download the driver program file to your desktop and double click it to begin the installation process. Follow the installation prompts and reboot your computer when prompted.

Step 3

Launch a video-intensive program to test your graphics card.

Tips & Warnings

  • Troubleshooting graphics cards can be a tricky process, so if your card is still under warranty, have a certified technician examine it.