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I'm experiencing on screen artifacts which lead me to believe that my GPU is dying. However a restart of my pc has (until now) always solved the issue... This again makes it look like it isn't GPU related.

Is there any way to make sure what the cause of the problem is without changing hardware?

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Could you please describe under which conditions do you observe the artifacts and how they look like? – pabouk Oct 10 '13 at 17:30
What is your GPU? Reseting might, among other things, reset the graphics' video memory, that might clear some artifacts. See this for reference. – Doktoro Reichard Oct 10 '13 at 17:46
Same here! Sometimes when I first boot my PC I get a lot of artifacts and after reboot (usually a single one) they are gone. EVGA GTX 770. I'm afraid that my GPU is "dying". – Pedro77 Oct 21 '15 at 21:11

Ways to test:

  1. Monitor the temperature using nvidia System Tools (ATI might have their own specific tools). I've seen GPU's work at 70C without issue; you'll have to look at the GPU's specific documentation for the TJ max (which states the maximum temperature of the CPU before automatic poweroff). It actually looks like TJmax may be CPU specific term; my GPU for example maximum temperate is 98C. If yours is reaching this max or coming close this is why you're experiencing the artifact issues.
  2. Benchmark the GPU using tools such as 3D Mark to see if you can force reproduce the artifacts.
  3. If you're overclocking stop.
  4. If your machine is dusty and dirty clean it to see if it's still reproducable.
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