Question Can't figure out what is causing random black screen (Display driver failing to start)?

RipGroove99

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Mar 11, 2017
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PC was built in 2017 (spec down below) and has been rock solid ever since, until 5 days ago...

PROBLEM: random black screen, PC stays on (can tell because I still have sound), could happen when idle, browsing, while booting or gaming (more so gaming so far). If it happens while booting I can see the POST OK but when it loads into Windows the screen just goes black. Event viewer shows nothing leading up to the event, only thing it logs is when I am forced to power the PC down via the power button. Windows Notifications has been sporadically reporting 'Display Driver Failed To Start'.

WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DIAGNOSE IT:

  1. Fully update Windows
  2. Run DDU and clean reinstall latest GPU driver
  3. Run DDU and clean reinstall previous 3 GPU drivers
  4. Updated GPU firmware using Nvidia's firmware tool
  5. Ran memtest64 (no errors)
  6. Ran Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool
  7. Turned off XMP in BIOS
  8. Removed 1 stick of RAM
  9. Swapped the RAM sticks over still leaving just 1 in the system
  10. Plugged my monitor into onboard graphics (this works fine)
  11. Ran GpuMemtest (no errors)
  12. Ran SFC Scan (no errors)
While doing all of the above the black screens continued to be completely random. Note that neither the CPU or GPU are overclocked.

After updating the GPU firmware yesterday I left Unigine Heaven running for 11 hours overnight (GPU temp leveled off at 67°C) and did not have a single black screen issue so thought I'd fixed it but today it's black screened several times while gaming and also while booting.

I've ordered a new PSU to either fix it or rule it out, it's arriving in 2 days so I'll know if it has any effect after at least 2 days of use. Other than that I'm at a loss as the problem is so random that I can't nail down what is causing it. Obviously if I had access to spare hardware I'd start swapping out the GPU and RAM and go from there.

Any ideas? This is REALLY frustrating.





PC Spec for reference:
Case: Phanteks Enthoo Pro M Tempered Glass
OS: Win 10 Home
Mobo: ASUS TUF Z270 Mark 1
CPU: Intel i7-7700k with NZXT Kraken X62 AIO
RAM: 32GB Corsair Dominator Platinum @ 3200MHz
GPU: EVGA 1080ti SC2 Hybrid AIO
OS Drive: M.2 Samsung 960 EVO 500GB
Game Drive: Samsung 860 EVO 1TB
PSU: Corsair RMi 850w
Fans: 5x Corsair ML140
 
Last edited:

RipGroove99

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Mar 11, 2017
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Well it looks like my GPU is faulty, managed to borrow another 1080ti and the PC does not black screen on boot, I'm just about to try gaming so hopefully I'll at least have answer shortly.
 

RipGroove99

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Mar 11, 2017
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Borrowed another 1080ti and it booted up right away with no black screen and ran games for approx 1hr. So I bought another used GPU like my original one (EVGA 1080ti Hybrid) for £325, that's been gaming for 3hrs so far and been running FurMark for 40mins so far and hasn't black screened yet.

Obviously I need to do some more testing because the other day my old GPU nearly went a whole day without black screening.

IF the new (used) GPU has sorted it then my old GPU has just become a very expensive paperweight which probably isn't even worth sending off for repair as the price of them will drop in about 11 days.

There was no point me waiting for the 30 series GPU's because the 3080 & 3090 would certainly bottleneck my 7700k. I'll do a new PC build once Nvidia launch the 3080ti/super or whatever as they are bound to launch something better shortly like their recent history has shown. I'm guessing the ti/super will have more VRAM as the current 3080 has less VRAM than my 1080ti (yes I know it's not ALL about VRAM, but still, seems like an odd move from Nvidia). Also by then Intel may have actually released a decent CPU too.
 

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