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I have what I believe to be a faulty graphics card causing random reboots to my machine. Unfortunately its plumbed with water cooling and removal is a bit more involved than I would like. Fortunately the reboots are roughly every other day so its 'bearable' until I can risk major work on the computer (I'd like a second machine handy before messing with the water).

I have three cards in the computer (EVGA GTX 580s) and think I've determined it to be the third graphics card causing the reboots (no BSOD, just resets).

My question, is disabling the graphics card in device manager sufficient to test whether the card is causing the reboot? What does disabling a graphics card do on the hardware?

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Any chance you can just wiggle it so that the pins don't sit properly in the PCI-Express slot? I had a loose GPU that almost "disabled itself" like this. – ashes999 Mar 7 '12 at 17:20
I will try that. Did a loose GPU cause the reboots? Actually... that's a very good suggestion... (I'm having a no duh moment). Could a loose GPU reboot the machine if vibration causes it to wiggle? – ccook Mar 7 '12 at 17:57
I'll add this as an answer, then. – ashes999 Mar 7 '12 at 18:01
Thank you, I am wondering what disabling a video card in device manager does at the hardware level as well. – ccook Mar 7 '12 at 18:02
Me too. I hope you get a good answer to this. – ashes999 Mar 7 '12 at 18:03
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Disabling the card in Device Manager is sufficient to determine if the card is causing the problem absent any serious hardware faults (shorting).

I cannot recommend against the suggestion to unseat the videocard strongly enough -- unless you completely pull the card from the socket and rest it where it will not touch any other components. You should also remove power from the card.

"Unseating" the card slightly is likely to damage the card, board, and any device attached to the PCIe bus. On the plus side, you might get to see some flames shooting out an exhaust.

You said "random reboots" - are these BSODs with automatic reboots, or is the machine simply restarting? If the latter, I'd check your PSU. If the former, there are ways to diagnose a BSOD.

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The machine is simply restarting ~ once a day. Would you suggest first trying a new power supply? – ccook Mar 8 '12 at 12:31
Does the card still draw power when disabled? – ccook Mar 8 '12 at 12:31
@ccook The card may not actively draw power, but will still be powered. I'd recommend at least testing the PSU. In general, a bad GPU will cause bluescreens, while bad power (or a bad motherboard) is more likely to cause a machine to randomly restart. – EKW Mar 8 '12 at 15:23
If you have to order a new PSU and have it shipped, I'd first see if you can pull one of the other cards, pull power from it, and secure it away from the slot, to see if you're failing under load from all three, or just in configurations with the third. – EKW Mar 9 '12 at 12:34
@ccook Glad to hear you're back in business. I always recommend full-tower cases for multiple GPUs for this exact reason. – EKW Apr 9 '12 at 14:56

I had a loose GPU once that almost wiggled its way out of the PCI Express slot. I think that motherboard slots are all or nothing: If it's properly plugged in, even if it's loose, there shouldn't be any problems, and it shouldn't cause any reboots.

In any case, if you can wiggle the GPU card out, that might be an acceptable solution -- albeit you'll have a tough time trying to put it back in later.

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