Can you help me diagnose my problem and tell me the cheapest way to fix my computer? I believe the problem could be one of these:

  • graphics card hardware is fried
  • graphics card drivers are corrupted
  • motherboard hardware is fried

Here are the relevant components of my system:

  • GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3L LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX
  • nVidia GeForce 8800GT 512 MB (drivers downloaded last month)
  • Intel Wolfdale E8400
  • Windows Vista 64 bit

I built this computer a little over 2 years ago and have not had any hardware failures until last night. I was playing NBA 2K11 and all of a sudden the game froze on one screen. Multi-colored shapes, mostly triangles, were layered all over the screen. The sound continued to play normally. CTRL+ALT+DEL did nothing. I was forced to hold down my power button and restart.

Then I tried playing a video in VLC with GPU decoding on. After 5 seconds of playing, my whole screen went black. The sound continued to play. My monitor went to sleep. I hit "S" as a keyboard shortcut to stop the video. The video did stop, because I no longer heard the sound. But the video could not be resumed by hitting the spacebar, so more than just the screen/graphics were broken.

In my many restarts, I saw weird graphics during bootup. You know those cheesy graphics that your motherboard puts on the screen on bootup? Well, mine had this uniform pattern overlayed on top. While the big white text on the black screen (I think this is DOS) was printing out stuff, all these weird foreign characters and white blocks covered the usual text. I tried booting in Windows Safe Mode this time. I was able to use Firefox without crashing. But even in Safe Mode, the graphics didn't look right. My desktop background was overlayed with a uniform pattern that looked like rivers.

I take good care of my hardware. I have a 1900 RPM exhaust case fan, which keeps all components cool. I have a monitor called Riva Tuner that adjusts the fans when the GPU does extra processing. This usually keeps my GPU under 50 Celcius. During this ordeal I opened my case and saw all the fans running - GPU, CPU, and case.


#1 - graphics card is fried. It wouldn't hurt to reinstall the driver, but I doubt that will solve your issue. Graphics cards do go bad (it's happened to me), and nVidia has had some serious reliability problems, so at the 2 year mark, you're in the zone to have it fail.

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