The laymans simple guide to solving graphics card issues

darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator



It's an extremely common problem seen throughout tech forums. You've installed a new graphics card and immediately experience either severe gaming performance issues, crashes when booting into windows or other display related problems that seem to be directly related to the new card.

Some problems are more complicated than others, but as a basic reference for solving the most common issues I suggest taking the following steps to ensure the problem is not something simple that can be easily cured.


The first thing to do is make certain your power supply is not the issue.

One of the most common mistakes made by those looking to upgrade system components, especially graphics cards, is thinking that they can use their current OEM or cheap off brand unit because "somebody else" did it without encountering a catastrophe. There is a very common misconception which has been appropriately addressed countless times by experienced users, builders and contributors to tech forums worldwide for years.


Just because your PSU has a label saying it's 600w and you KNOW you only need 550w, does NOT mean you are ok with that unit after upgrading to a gaming or enthusiast graphics card. Mainstream systems or those with integrated graphics, in the manner of the Intel iGPU on their i-series chips, or AMD's APUs, use much less continuous power than that which is demanded by aftermarket PCIe high end graphics cards.

Knowing that leads us to the well documented fact that there are a heck of a lot of power supplies out there, even units sold by big names like Corsair, Cooler Master and Thermaltake, that can't provide their listed capacity. More often that not, when the unit says, for example, 600w, it's actual sustained capacity is much less. It might not even be capable of peaking anywhere near that.

Don't be surprised when your cheap PSU blows up

If you are upgrading to a high end GPU solution you are well served by also confirming you have a high quality, exceptionally reliable power supply to eliminate the potential for complications or even hardware failures. Using a model listed at a position of Tier 2B or higher on Dottorent's PSU Tier list, while not considered an ultimate reference, is a very good basic guideline to determining if the unit you have or intend to purchase will be suitable or not.

Dottorent's PSU Tier List

Using a Tier 3 or lower power supply with a high end graphics card, which for the sake of having a reference point we'll consider to be anything above a GTX 750 or R7 240, is a risky endeavor. If you currently have issues related to the graphics card and you are using a Tier 3 or lower unit, there is a good chance the two are related. If your PSU is NOT on the Tier list, and you can't find a major review from a respected review site that specializes in power supply testing that reflects a high probability of quality in that unit, it's probably junk. No offense to you or your poor PSU.

( To be honest, if you really care about your rig, just don't EVER use a Tier 3 or lower unit if possible regardless of your configuration unless it's absolutely necessary due to your budget and only if you know for certain you are NEVER going to upgrade graphics or overclock. A Tier 2B or higher unit has the potential to last through several builds, while a lower tiered unit may or may not be around to see the end of your current systems lifetime.)


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**CLEAN DRIVER INSTALLATION**


The next big issue for many users is having a CLEAN driver installation. Many users upgrading from older cards or integrated graphics that use older driver versions by the same OEM, meaning Nvidia or AMD based, often assume it will be a bang, bang process. Sometimes it is if they've kept up with keeping the drivers current but more often it is not.

It's also often not enough to simply install the drivers that came on disk with the graphics card or to just find and download current drivers. In many cases the system has seen repeated driver updates, partial or damaged driver installations or the installation of differently tiered graphics products in addition to a variety of different "tweaking" utilities, all of which may have left behind varying levels of registry entries and system file versions that are likely to cause complications with the installation or implementation of new drivers.

This can have a wide variety of results including no problems at all, refusal of the new drivers to even install or anything in between as well as driver conflicts and poor performance. It's imperative that you start with a clean slate by removing ALL previous graphics drivers for that architecture or platform that might interfere with the transition to the new drivers. Making sure you are trying to install drivers INTENDED for use with your GPU model or Windows version is extremely important as well.

There has been a high level of success resolving these kinds of issues by doing the following.

Remove the current drivers or driver framework from the "Add/Remove programs" or "Programs and features" applet in Windows control panel first.

Download, but do not yet install, the drivers that are appropriate for your graphics card and operating system from the Nvidia or AMD website.


Nvidia graphics drivers

AMD graphics drivers


Download and run Wagnard tools "Display driver uninstaller" which I highly recommend and is fully endorsed by many top level tech websites including Guru 3D and Tom's Hardware. Choose the option from the drop box that applies to your platform, AMD, Nvidia or Intel, and when it asks to reboot into safe mode in order to perform the uninstall process, click yes and allow the program to proceed.

Guru3D Display Driver Uninstaller



After the uninstallation process is complete, install the new driver package you previously downloaded followed by a reboot of the system to ensure the new drivers are properly initiated.

Using the DDU to create a clean environment is sufficient for a large majority of users but is not going to be the immaculate solution for every user and every situation. Some issues are more involved and may require a new Windows installation or further investigation to determine hardware and other driver compatibility.

It's also a good idea on AMD systems to make sure the chipset drivers are up to date which can be found here: http://support.amd.com/en-us/download/chipset?os=Windows+8.1+-+64


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If your issue is still unresolved or was not driver related to begin with, there are a few other things to check.

Double checking to see that the GPU card is FULLY seated in the PCIe slot, and that it's actually in the correct slot for single or multi GPU configuration to begin with according to the specifications outlined in your motherboard's manual is a good place to begin. Reseating graphics cards often solves the issue immediately. When using dual card configurations, sometimes swapping places with the cards will resolve failure to Crossfire or SLI, or even be detected.

Be sure to check that the "lock" on the end of the PCIe slot is in the open position before attempting to install the card and that once fully seated, the lock is now engaged.

Make absolutely certain you have any and all necessary supplementary power cables connected to the graphics card and that the cables are firmly seated on both ends, especially on modular power supplies as they can often seem seated on the PSU socket but in reality are not fully bottomed into the socket.

Check to see that you did not forget to move the VGA, HDMI, DVI or Displayport cable from the motherboard's integrated display output to the appropriate port on your graphics card.

If you are using a power strip, discard it and plug directly into the wall socket using the power cable from your PSU. Power strips are notoriously cheap and problematic, often causing voltage issues with the demand of the new card despite having a capable power supply.

If none of these solutions resolves your issue or you have issues unrelated to these solutions, feel free to contact myself or other members with the link to your thread and in most cases we'll be happy to do our best to help you solve your issue. Remember, this is just a basic troubleshooting guide for the layman, more complicated issues with compatibility and performance may require additional or entirely disparate remedies.


If you have serious relevant questions, concerns, feedback or suggestions regarding this tutorial, you can navigate to the following link which serves as a landing place for feedback.


Q&A for "The laymans guide to solving simple graphics card issues"


 

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