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I have a relatively new machine (November 2009) with Windows 7 x64 Home Premium. Since beginning of January, I experience more and more frequent black screen of death. I could not associate to any software firmly, but it did crash relatively frequently during video playback, Google Earth, and flash movies within browser. The frequency of crashes increasing, now it make no more sense to start playing a DVD.

I restored the system from a backup image from early November when the computer was still rock solid. After restore plus installing Nod32 anti virus (I bought the AV after the backup) and the latest Windows Update patches, the computer crashed within an hour.

My guess is that the issue is caused by HW failure. I ran a memory tester all night, but it did not find any errors. Due to the frequent crashes during video/GE, I have suspicion towards the video card. Can you recommend any testing/curing solution?

HW: Desktop M5812/Intel i5 processor/NVidia Geforce 220/6GB RAM

EDIT: I have replaced the video card with another borrowed NVIDIA card, and DVD playback is as smooth as butter. I took a look at the old card and I recognized that the heat sink is completely jammed with dust, so cooling certainly was not going very well. I cleansed it and placed the old card back. It seems like it works again.

EDIT2: After vacuuming the original videocard, the computer is running very stable now for several days. Thank you for all the contributions!

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2 Answers

As you said it happens during video playback and/or intensive applications, my guess would be that this is related to either the video card as you suggested, or more likely, this is down to bad air circulation or a bad heatsink/fan.

As your machine is new, I would take it back to where you got it as you should not have to spend time/money on fixing it as it must be faulty... Unless you have opened it and/or been messing around with drivers etc.

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Yes. I also think that the error is with your Video card. Google earth uses a video rendering and the video players use some Codecs that needs the accurate functionality of the video hardware.

I am not sure how to verify this. You may try to use some utility like DirectX Diagnostic utility (Type dxdiag in run utility) of use a third party diagnostic and benchmarking tool like sandra soft to diagnose this.

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Also check if the Windows Update you ran include an update to the video driver around the time you started having problems. When I was using Vista, every new update to the Nvidia video driver would cause my machine to freeze at random, so I always made sure not to include the video driver update (eventually they got their act together.) Yours could be a similar problem - buggy video drivers are the cause of a LOT of crashes. –  MetalMikester Jan 14 '10 at 12:47
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