How can I diagnose an issue with my graphics card in Windows?

A faulty or failing graphics card can be a frustrating experience, especially if it leads to unexpected computer shutdowns or other significant issues. The first step in diagnosing an issue with your graphics card is to determine whether the problem is with the graphics card itself, or if the problem is caused by some other component.

If you suspect the graphics card is the source of the issue, there are several steps you can take to try and diagnose the problem. The following instructions will help you test your graphics card and determine the cause of any issues.

1. Removing and Checking the Graphics Card

The first step in diagnosing an issue with your graphics card is to physically remove it from the computer. Some graphics cards are integrated into the motherboard, and cannot be removed. In these cases, you will need to use a piece of software to test the functionality of the graphics card. For dedicated graphics cards that can be removed, it is recommended that you do so in a static-free environment.

Before reinstalling the card, thoroughly inspect it for any visible faults. Check the exterior of the card for signs of physical damage, including broken components, cracked solder joints, and bent pins. Carefully remove any dust or debris that may have accumulated. If any of these problems are present, you may need to replace the card.

2. Checking Power to the Graphics Card

If the card appears to be in good condition, the next step is to check if the card is receiving sufficient power. Most graphics cards require a dedicated power connection in order to function. Make sure the power plug is securely connected to the card and to the power supply.

It can be difficult to tell if the graphics card is receiving power without using specialized equipment. To check, use a multimeter to measure the voltage at the power supply. Ideally, this should be the same voltage that is printed on the graphics card or on its packaging. If the voltage is lower than expected, then the card may not be receiving sufficient power and you may need to upgrade the power supply.

3. Inspecting the Connectors

The next step is to make sure all the necessary connections between the graphics card and the rest of the system are working properly. This includes the monitor cable, as well as any additional adapters, such as SLI (Scalable Link Interface) bridges, that may be connected to the card.

Check if the cable connections are secure and free of any bends or breaks. Also inspect the connectors on the graphics card to make sure they are clean and free of dirt or corrosion.

4. Stress Testing the Graphics Card

Stress testing the graphics card is a good way to test its performance and stability. There are several free software programs available, such as Furmark and Heaven Benchmark, that can be used to stress test a graphics card.

These programs allow you to place a heavy load on the card and then monitor its temperatures. Any temperature above 90°C (194°F) is considered dangerous, and can lead to permanent damage. These tests can also help identify other potential issues, such as frame drops and stuttering.

5. Updating Drivers and BIOS

Outdated drivers can cause issues with your graphics card and can be easily remedied by downloading and installing the most recent versions. Similarly, outdated BIOS versions can also cause problems. To check and update the drivers and BIOS, download the necessary software and follow the on-screen instructions.


Diagnosing an issue with your graphics card can be a time-consuming process, but it is necessary to ensure the optimal performance of your system. Follow the steps outlined in this article to accurately identify the source of any issues you may be experiencing with your graphics card.