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Ever since replacing a GTX 570 with a GTX 660 Ti, my system has become unreliable. Is there anything I can do to determine if it's a hardware or software problem?

System reliability (after installing new GPU) After
The evens in the Windows failures row are the Video Hardware errors. The ones in the Application events row are mostly Google Chrome and Mail (see below), and SimCity.

System reliability (before installing new GPU) Before
Hard to see on the graph, but this was a reliable system. I accidentally knocked out the power once, and the Application failures are mainly an MPC-HC bug that I know how to reproduce, but never submitted.

Main symptoms:

  • Video hardware error. Happens almost daily, multiple times a day. If I see it happen, the screen might blink and I'll get a Taskbar bubble saying "Display driver has stopped responding and has recovered".
  • Same error happens some time between sleeping and waking (apparent in Error Log). When this happens and Google Chrome is open, it will be a black window and not responding. When there are toast notifications from Mail waiting for me after logging in, they will also be black, and non-responding.
  • Screen corruption in Google Chrome (this just happened after posting this question). Doesn't crash, but looks like this: Screen corruption

Things I've tried:

  • Using a couple of different beta drivers, as well as the latest WHQL version. All have this same issue, except the beta ones cause artifacting in Valley Benchmark 1.0, and can't even finish the test.
  • Switching the PCI-e connectors from rail 3 to rail 4.

The GTX 570 required more power, so I doubt it's a problem with my PSU. The PSU experts at JohnnyGuru have a lot of praise for my 750 W unit, but do say that there is some "12V ripple and noise close to ATX specs." However they also say that "while 12V3 and 12V4 are 1mV out of spec at 121mV. Now, we can ignore that 1mV number - your hardware won't care if it's that close to spec," but maybe this GPU is finicky.

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Have you completely blown away the NVidia drivers with a third party tool? NVidia drivers have always been crummy, and bad at deleting themselves properly when something is changed. – AthomSfere Mar 22 '13 at 14:07
@AthomSfere No, but I did check the "Perform clean installation" box. – Louis Mar 22 '13 at 14:10
Do you have access to another desktop. If you have then test the new card in that other desktop. In case of a hardware problem the systems should travel with it. If it works fine in the other desktop then you have a software problem. – Hennes Mar 22 '13 at 14:20
@Louis I would not count that as the same. – AthomSfere Mar 22 '13 at 14:21
@Hennes afraid only my Windows Home Server, but the PSU is too weak (305 W, 450 W recommmended). – Louis Mar 22 '13 at 15:22

Try this, as NVidia never has made a decent driver uninstaller (Actually the reason I moved to ATI over ten years ago...), although some people feel the same about ATI.

Here is one method:

Use the official uninstaller(s) of the driver(s) you want to uninstall.
Reboot your PC in Safe Mode.
Run Driver Sweeper and select what to clean.
Analyse lists all the entries possible to remove, cleaning removes the entries selected.
More drivers can be selected for the same cleaning process.

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Thank you, but I don't trust registry cleaners and this is pretty old (October, 2010). – Louis Mar 22 '13 at 15:26
There is always the manual scrub ;) I agree with reg cleaners, but this one very fixed in what it cleans compared to something like the infamous CCleaner – AthomSfere Mar 22 '13 at 15:35

What kind of motherboard?

Have you checked to see if you have the most up-to-date BIOS for your motherboard?

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I'm using the P7P55D PRO by MSI. The BIOS is the second newest, the newest one adds a fix for an Intel RAID feature which I don't use. – Louis Mar 22 '13 at 14:09

I found out that the model of my card (MSI N660Ti PE 2GD5 GeForce GTX 660 Ti) was designed to provide extra boost, out of spec with the design standards. The assumption is so that the card would outperform the compliant cards in comparison reviews.

Tom's Hardware has an article about the "illegal" overvolting. The picture of the offending card in the article looks exactly like mine. To paraphrase:

A small component completely superfluous to the normal circuit in one of the ground connections causes major overvoltage in the PWM chip in question – instead of the 5 volts specified by Richtek, the chip is hit with up to 9.3 volts. That can’t be good for its life expectancy in the long run and also causes [...] issues...

In response to the article MSI said, "our new production models with normal GPU Boost function will be on sale next month."

So this sounds like a hardware issue after all.

I'll have to RMA with MSI and hope they send me a fundamentally sound card.

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