How to troubleshoot video card problems

If you plan on installing an internal adapter card, say for example a PCIExpress wireless adapter card if you want your PC to have the ability toconnect to a wireless network in addition to a wired network, remove the metalbracket from the case rear corresponding to the PCI Express x1 slot on yourmotherboard that is farthest from the PCI express x16 video card slot. You wantto give a video card that you install now or add one in the future as much roomas possible for air flow and cooling.

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A display driver is software which allows other programs to access and use a . People often use the term "display adapter" in situations where you are referring either to a separate or built into your motherboard. Installing the driver uses the same procedure whether you have a video card or integrated graphics. You must have a display driver installed in order for your display adapter to do anything other than the most basic operations. Most operating systems have a default display driver with limited functionality which will work for most display adapters. In order to use the more advanced features like three dimensional graphics, a full display driver designed for that specific display adapter must be installed. From time to time, the manufacturers come out with new display drivers which fix bugs and improve performance. It's a good idea to get the latest display drivers and install them. In most cases, you do not get your display drivers from the company which manufactured the display adapter. You get your display drivers from the manufacturer of the . Currently that's usually ATI or NVIDIA. The drivers are usually available on the GPU manufacturer's web site. If you just bought a and are installing its display drivers, it's usually best not to use the drivers which came on the driver CD. Those drivers are almost always out of date by the time you get the video card. You should download the latest drivers from the GPU manufacturer's web site.

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If you have more than one display adapter installed in your computer, then each will appear in the "Display:" list. If your video card has multiple outputs, then they will also appear in this list. In this case, entry number 1 is the primary output of the Radeon 9700 Pro and entry number 2 is the secondary output of the same video card. You only have to install the display driver once for both of the outputs to show up.

Plug in your CAC reader NOW NOTE: Please check and make sure your CAC reader installed BEFORE you attempt to follow the driver installation instructions below. Most of the time, the New hardware wizard will install the CAC reader automatically, negating the need for you to install the driver manually.

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Some are unstable if you run them at full speed. Slowing them down can make them work properly. When you slow down the video card, you are also cooling it down and reducing its power consumption. If your video card crashes, hangs, stutters, or gets display corruption a few minutes after you start a game, it may be overheating. The same thing can happen when a power supply is overloaded and it overheats. Occasionally you'll run into bad chips which cannot run reliably at full speed. Your video card has two values which can be slowed down: the clock rate, and the clock rate. You can both of those values to see if your video card problems go away. If your problems disappear, then it usually means the video card is overheating although it can also be a weak chip or an overtaxed power supply. Underclocking can be done by using programs which are normally used to . If you are using an ATI video card and are running Windows 2000 or XP, then you can use to underclock. If you have an NVIDIA card, then you can try CoolBits or . For other kinds of video cards you can use . Detailed instructions on underclocking your video card are .

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An overtaxed power supply can cause many different problems. Unfortunately, power supply problems can also be extremely difficult to diagnose. The best way to be sure that the power supply is not causing problems is to swap in a known-good high-end power supply. For most folks that's not a realistic option. You may also be able to recognize a power supply problem by checking whether the voltages are in range. The easy way to check voltages is using a monitoring utility which came with your computer or motherboard. These utilities can check things like the power supply voltages, internal temperatures, and fan speeds. If you have such a utility then check that the voltages are where they belong. If you don't have a motherboard utility then you can try , , or . Unfortunately, some motherboards don't measure their own voltages very accurately. To get an accurate voltage reading on those motherboards requires opening up the computer and checking the voltages with a voltmeter. If you happen to be enough of an electronics geek to own one then you can get an accurate reading that way. Otherwise you can resort to using the motherboard utilities. There are three main voltage values to check: 3.3 volts, 5 volts, and 12 volts. According to the official specification all three of those voltages must be within 5 percent. But in real life it's better if they are closer than that. So 3.3 volts should be between 3.2 to 3.4 volts. 5 volts should be from about 4.8 to 5.2 and 12 volts should be from 11.6 to 12.4. If the voltages are outside of that range, it's not proof of a power supply problem but it's not good. Some video cards tolerate voltages which are off better than others. With most new video cards, the 12 volt value is the one which is most likely to cause problems. If the 12 volt value suddenly drops when you start up a 3D game, that's a bad sign. But ultimately, the only way to know for sure that a power supply is the cause of your problems is to have the problems disappear after swapping in a better supply.

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If you have two or more ATI or NVIDIA display adapters which use the same driver (like two NVIDIA GeForces or two ATI Radeons), then you just install the display driver once and it works for all compatible adapters. If you have more than one kind of Matrox video card and you're running Windows 2000 or XP, then you should run the of the unified driver. The version number of those drivers ends with "SE". If you have display adapters which use different drivers, then you have to install each kind of display driver separately. This "more than one driver" case has been known to cause problems. My experience has been that it is best to install the display driver for the primary display first and then reboot and get it set up the way you like it. Then add the other display drivers one at a time.