Signs of a bad graphics card – how to spot them easily

Deterioration of the video card is almost always accompanied by a number of signs. If you are interested in signs of video card malfunction , then you are faced with clear indicators that this device is out of order.

But, in order for you to be confident in your conclusions, we recommend reading our article.

It will help to refute or confirm your suspicions and, perhaps, even fix problems with the video card yourself.

Video card failures are inevitable. This can happen with any brand of graphics card, such as nvidia or radeon. After all, the symptoms of a video card failure can be different, let’s figure it out.

Signs of a broken video card:

So, a breakdown of a computer video card can manifest itself as follows: you turn on your PC, notice obvious signs of its operation (light indicators flicker, characteristic sound signals are heard, etc.), the video card turns on, but the monitor does not manifest itself in any way, remaining dark.

In this case, there is a high probability that the video card (a complex microcircuit responsible for processing and displaying the video signal) has failed. Of course, that your computer is now of no use and it is urgent to fix the problem. Therefore, we begin to look for the cause.

Video card malfunctions – obvious and hidden signs:

The fact that the video card is not working correctly can be judged by some other signs.

For example: the monitor is working, but unusual image distortions periodically appear on the screen (artifacts of the video card); when reinstalling drivers, the operating system suddenly issues a blue “screen of death”; The BIOS signals a malfunction of your computer’s video card with sound signals (which signal sounds in this case depends on the version of the BIOS itself).

In order to be sure that the video card is the cause of the problem, you should make sure that the rest of the computer is working.

To do this, pay attention to the following indicators:

  • The power supply is in good condition (after connecting the PC to the network, the cooler fan also turns on);
  • After turning on the PC, you hear the usual sound signalinforming about the loading of the operating system (while the screen is still “inexorably black”);
  • After pressing the power button, the flickering of the LEDs is noticeable (this is a standard indicator that reports a test check of the hardware before loading the OS);
  • Checking the performance of the monitor (by connecting it to another PC) showed that your monitor is working.

So, all the equipment works, the system boots, but the screen does not show signs of life – 99% indicates that the reason lies in the video card.

If you have a laptop, replacing the video card is possible, but it is difficult to do it yourself. Stupid you need a service.

Computer video card malfunctions, what to do?

What to do if the video card has flown? Now we will talk about what, first of all, should be done when a video card breaks down.

If your computer has not yet completed its warranty period, and all the necessary seals are intact, just contact the seller from whom you purchased your computer.

This is the best option, allowing you to shift your worries onto other people’s shoulders. And the seller does not get bored from the absence of problems.

If the seals are damaged, and the warranty has ended long ago, conduct an additional study of the video card. And by the way, at the same time, clean it from dust. This procedure can be performed independently and at home. For this:

  • Unscrew the bolts of the system unit. After that, clean its insides from dust (read our article on how to properly clean a computer from dust);
  • Carefully unfasten the latch, disconnect the video card from the motherboard. If the computer device is unfamiliar to you, the video card can be found on the wire connecting the monitor to the system unit;
  • When you get your hands on a device that you suspect is malfunctioning, make a thorough inspection of it. On the surface of the video card there should be no signs of burning and other defects that can be determined visually (if any, most likely, the device is completely out of order);
  • Wipe the contacts and the surface of the video card with ordinary cotton soaked in alcohol. The purpose of this event is to remove the formed oxide, which may interfere with the correct operation of the device;
  • Reassemble the computer in reverse order.

After self-prophylaxis, the image on the monitor screen may not appear. Then the reasons for the breakdown of the video card lie much deeper than the banal accumulation of oxide. Their elimination requires a more serious approach.

Video card malfunctions, why the video card flew and how to restore it

There are two main types of causes that lead to the breakdown of a video card: hardware (technical) and software. Software errors consist of improper installation of drivers.

If you have a buggy video card in a laptop or PC, you need to reinstall the drivers in the conflicting software.

How to find out the video card on a laptop – just look at the laptop model on the back of the cover and enter it on the Internet. You will find everything there.

If you notice that the operation of the video card is broken after installing any software, then, if possible:

  • try to remove it;
  • reinstall (usually, such malfunctions do not lead to a complete loss of the image).

Hardware failures are usually associated with a violation of the interaction between individual modules of the video card. Self-elimination of such malfunctions can be done in two ways.

Method one – warming up the video card in the oven

When following this guide, be careful – this procedure may damage your GPU beyond repair. Applying heat to the graphics card for an extended period of time will melt the solder joints and possibly repair any damaged solder points.

In order to warm up the video card using an ordinary oven, you will need:

  • Get a special tester – Thermocouple (in order to monitor temperature readings),
  • Aluminum foil to cover heat-sensitive components when the card is placed on the tray,
  • Paper towels to wipe off old radiator compound from components
  • Oven, oddly enough 🙂
  • Baking tray, or wire rack.
  • Thermal paste for the video card to replace the paste later.

Attach the thermocouple to the video card chipset and put the video card in the oven. Naturally, before baking , the video card must be disassembled .

  • Remove the screws or clips holding the fan and any air ducts on the graphics card.
  • Carefully remove the fan and heatsink.
  • Remove any old heat sink compounds from the chips (using a paper towel).
  • Place the screws in a safe place.
  • Remove plastic parts. Plastic melts in the oven and releases toxic fumes.
  • Lift the GPU by the edges, never let the graphics card components touch any surface.

Next, the faulty video card should be warmed up to 200 C0. There are various temperature options. By stages:

  • Preheat oven to 385F (195C).
  • Experiment with a lower temperature first and increase the temperature if necessary.
  • If you have already gone through the steps once in the past and are baking again, increase the temperature slightly – 395F (200C) or 400F (205C).
  • Most of these temporary repairs consist only of expanding and contracting the protrusions under the graphics chip’s surface mount. Therefore, lower heat can also give a result.

How and how much to heat the video card in the oven

Video card warm-up time may vary. It all depends on the type of video card and the year of its release. The most popular options and key points are listed below.

  • Warm up the GPU slowly.
  • GPU warm-up time: PS: 3-6 minutes, Xbox: 4-6 minutes, Desktop boards: 12 minutes, Notebook boards: 8-12 minutes, GFX: 8-15 minutes.
  • Be patient. If your oven has a window, check to see if the solder has melted.
  • Set the timer on your oven for 5-10 minutes. This is usually enough.

Prevent the GPU components from touching any surface by prying up the edges of the card with foil. Do not leave the oven unattended . Place the GPU on the baking sheet with the majority of the chips facing up. Place the baking sheet or dish in the middle of the oven. For better heat distribution.

Cooling the oven after warming up the video card

  • Cool down the oven by opening the door 5-10 times. This will regulate the temperature.
  • Movement can cause the liquid solder to set improperly and destroy the card.
  • You will notice the smell from the melted solder – flux.
  • Do not use fans for cooling. This will ruin the map.

How to properly check the video card after warming up

It’s simple – you have 2 options.

1. Quickly test the graphics card without reinstalling the fan and heatsink. Do not use the GPU with the heatsink and fan removed for more than 30 seconds. There is a chance to burn it. In fact, it is enough to turn on the computer and check that it has passed the POST.

2. Completely assemble the video card. Don’t forget the thermal paste. Reinstall the fan and heatsink, then check the graphics card. Here you can fully turn on the PC and boot the OS. Check all temperatures with CPU-z. Or a recommended program from the video card manufacturer.

Method two – warming up the video card with a blow dryer

There is no guarantee that this method will work for sure. When performing this repair, you can damage the video card and make it just a piece of junk. Don’t forget to try it in a well-ventilated area – the smell will still be the same 🙂

In order to warm up the video card in the presented way, you will need the following accessories:

  • soldering iron,
  • Thermal paste, this is after repair
  • An incandescent lamp – so that everything can be seen 🙂
  • Screwdrivers – mostly Phillips
  • Cleaning wipes or paper towels

The procedure consists in warming up all surfaces of the video card – simultaneously. In no case should the hair dryer be brought closer to the video card at a distance of less than 1 centimeter. And as practice shows – the heating of the video card should not exceed 200C.

And now let’s look at everything in more detail:

First, remove the heatsink from the video card. There is nothing special here. Unscrew the screws from the bottom so that the heatsink falls off. Don’t forget to remove the fan power cable.

In this case, the failed component is the large gray blob in the middle of the map. It’s a GPU and underneath it are hundreds of tiny solder points. Some of these points are violated due to high temperature caused by poor heat dissipation. And which is mostly caused by bad and dried thermal paste or a fan full of dust. Or it could happen both at the same time.

To fix this bad solder, the main chip must be heated to the point where the solder melts and reunites with its own solder point.

Now it’s time to clean the board

Clean old and dry thermal paste with alcohol or replace with a special nail polish remover.

If possible, use a cotton swab and cotton cloth. Toilet paper is great too. It is necessary to clean the chip until the marking is completely free of thermal paste. Also clean the radiator.

This is a critical part of video card repair. How to heat the chip so that it does not burn out?

The chip should heat up to almost 200C, but not higher. As an option, put the whole chip in the oven for 10 minutes at 200C as we wrote above, but with a hair dryer you will not be able to control the temperature on the chip.

Start heating the graphics chip with a hair dryer or heat gun. Don’t aim it at the main chip only, or it will burn out. Make slow rotational movements over the chip with a hair dryer at a distance of about 10 cm from the board.

If you’ve soldered before, you know what solder smells like when it melts. And for those unfamiliar with soldering, the smell is similar to burnt glue and metal. The burnt “glue” smell comes from the flux in the solder.

As the chip heats up, pay attention to odors and see if liquid solder appears anywhere. This is the moment when the heat is enough to repair the chip. Do not overheat this point, otherwise the chip will burn out.

Let the video card cool down

After these smells (hehe) let the chip cool down a bit. DO NOT touch the chip until it has completely cooled down or the chip starts to move. Simply because the solder is liquid and it won’t work. NEVER!

This is the part where you really need patience. Hurry – and you can forget about the map, it will turn into trash.

Video card assembly and testing, video card check

It’s time to apply new thermal paste and assemble the heatsink. The thermal paste I used was a nexus TMP-1000 because it’s cheap and easy to find. The paste is silver-based, so it conducts heat well. It also doesn’t just dry out. Factory paste may dry out completely after about a few months of application, but this will not happen. 

I once had this paste in a heavy duty overclocking PC for a year and it was still in liquid form. The paste is not the best on the market, but it works great.

Apply a small ball of paste to the middle of the main chip. Use the right amount of paste, otherwise it won’t distribute the heat properly. Too much paste has the same effect as too little paste.

With the right amount, the paste is easy to apply. You can make a thin film of paste all over the chip OR do it like me. Place a small ball with a diameter of 3-5 mm in the center of the chip and press the heatsink against it. The paste forms a large circle between the chip and the heatsink and will spread evenly. It’s easier..

Once assembled, the video card should be returned to its place and checked for operability.

In conclusion

This video card is an old card of my friends that didn’t work after overheating. So I had to test the map on my own stand. In the first image you can see the refurbished card on the table and my own card in the PC case.

REMEMBER , it is important to disconnect the power cable from the PC before doing anything with it. And use ESD protection to prevent static damage to fragile electronics parts.

In the last image, the warmed up (and working. Hooray!) video card is in the PC case, and my own video card is on the table in front of the screen.

How to see the video card , whether it works or not – just put it back in place and turn on the PC. If necessary, install all drivers on the PC and test it with Furmark or Sky tests to make sure it functions properly and the temperature of the graphics card is at a normal level.

Links:  Furmark  and  Heaven

Both of them are free and designed for graphics testing.

The principle of verification is the same, whether it is an external video card for a laptop, a video card for a PC, or just a card in a laptop.

I hope you fixed your map with these easy steps! 🙂


The article Video Card Problems was first written in 2014 and updated in October 2019.

Previously, we did not want to consider these video card repair methods in this article. After all, few of you decide to produce them yourself. Such repair of video cards requires certain skills and knowledge related to the internal structure of various elements of microelectronics.

But due to numerous requests and questions from the comments, we made several additions regarding the diagnostics of a video card and various ways to warm it up. You can also heat the video card with an iron, it is possible that we will add this here later.

And if you still want to warm up the video card with a hair dryer on your own. Or replace the chip on the video card – you can read about it on our website in one of the more detailed articles. By the way, given in the same section – the most popular ones are in the left sidebar or at the beginning of the article. And if you think it’s worth doing it or not, I’ll definitely say it’s worth it. Especially when there is a choice to throw it away and buy a new one, or still try to restore it.

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