Graphic driver now crashes in most games (but not all) - hardware issue inevitable?

Oct 23, 2018
Hey dear team!

A few months ago, my graphic driver would sometime crash (going to "No Signal Detected" black screens), forcing me to do a physical reboot of the computer, when I was in-game. The sounds would still be playing, but the screens would be dead, and upon restart Windows would tell me that "Display driver failed to start, using Windows Basic Display Driver instead."

When it began it only (as far as I can remember) happened when I was playing Overwatch, and then mainly when I was in the very beginning of the game (like the Hero Select), and even more common when I was playing Competitive Mode (compared to Quick Play). The GPU temperature did not rise, there was no spike in activity, just an out-of-the-blue(screen) crash.

Since a couple of weeks, the crashes became more frequent, to the point where Overwatch crashes every time I try to play it. The issue has also spread, and now many of my games (Subnautica, Overcooked 2, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus) makes my graphic drivers crash a few seconds after I get into their menus.

However, some games (like Rise of the Tomb Raider, one of the more heavy duty games I have) runs completely fine still, telling me there is something properly wrong somewhere, but that it does not equally affect all applications.

I suspect the issue is with the hardware, but I am not savvy enough to know, so I came here to make my very first post. This forum has helped me countless times in the past with issues I've had, so I want to start with thanking this place and you who make it what it is for your contributions <3

My specs:
Intel Core i7-4790K
Gainward GeForce GTX 970
750W PSU


What I have tried so far:
  • * Installed the newest GPU drivers
    * Installed a variety of older GPU drivers
    * Underclocked the GPU
    * Removed the graphics card, cleaned it slightly, and re-connected it on the motherboard
    * Disabled in-game overlays from Steam & Discord
    * Formatted my C: drive and re-installed Windows 10
    * Subnautica: re-installed the game
    * Overwatch: disabled autio-join voice chats
    * Tried to install latest chipset drivers for motherboard (installation did not finish, citing current drivers installed)
    * Disconnect my second and third monitor (connected via DisplayPorts)
Have not tried:
  • * Cleaning the graphics card with canned air (a buddy is coming by with a can today or tomorrow)
If I am reading the Event Viewer correctly, this is what happens when the crash occurs (item has a yellow triangle ! Warning sign next to it):

  • Event 219, Kernel-PnP
    The driver \Driver\WUDFRd failed to load for the device ACPI\PNP0A0A\2&daba3ff&0.
As I said I suspect the issue is with the hardware, but I since it does not happen to all applications I am still on the hunt for a solution. I am partly resigned to buying a new GPU but any and all clues anyone here could think of would be greatly appreciated! All leads will be investigated :)

A hundred and one thanks, for past work and in advance for this. Cheers!

(PS after one of these crashes (maybe a month back) my internet connection would need a few minutes to get started again, after the reboot. It would be stuck a couple of minutes on "Identifying..." (and the troubleshooter would say ""Ethernet" doesn't have a valid IP configuration"), and would then work again after about 2 minutes. This also happens now every time the computer crashes, and sometimes when I'm just booting up the PC like normal. I am connected by cable into a switch, which in turn is connected by cable to the modem)

Oct 23, 2018
Update: I used the canned air my buddy brought me, and blew quite a bit of dust out of the graphics card. Did that for a few minutes, until there wasn't really any more dust coming out.

Put the card back in the PC, and then the games worked (for a while)! All games started and I could run around and all was good and well, until I played my third Overwatch game, and in the Hero Select the crash happened again.

So, I seemed to be able to negate the effect to some degree, but just not good enough. Any ideas what this could mean?