One of the most common components of your computer that is likely to fail is the graphics card. Also known as the video card, graphics adapter, or graphics accelerator, this component is responsible for handling the image processing for your computer. While the graphics card is at work from the moment you switch on your computer, the card really has to work hard when you play high-end games or watch videos/movies on your computer. A critical part of any computer, failure of the graphics card can make the computer unusable. However, the good news is that a failing graphic card provides a number of warning signs – thus giving you time to get it checked and fixed/replaced.

A failing graphics card can cause multiple symptoms to show up. However, before we jump to conclusions, it is important to remember that the symptoms of a faulty graphics card could be due to other factors as well.  A problem with your monitor can also cause symptoms that are similar to that of a failing graphics card. However, if multiple symptoms point to an improper graphics card, you need to get it checked. Let us look at the various symptoms that indicate such a graphic card.

Stuttering on the Screen

If you notice the visuals on your computer screen either freezing or stuttering, chances are that you have a problem on hand. However, problems with the RAM, a hard drive that is dying or malware can also bring about similar symptoms. In order to be sure that it is your graphics card that is faulty, look for other symptoms in conjunction with this one.

Visual Glitches on the Screen

You are watching a movie or playing your favorite game when suddenly you notice strange looking colors, 3D models looking stretched screen covered with digital snow, or visual garbage that you cannot decipher.  Restarting your computer may bring the screen display back to normal. However, if the problem occurs again, chances are that your graphics card is faulty.

Weird Artifacts

Your computer displays visuals on the screen/monitor through the graphics card. A faulty graphics card can result in weird artifacts displayed on the screen. Images on the screen are made up of pixels. If you notice pixels displaying the wrong color, this could indicate a faulty graphics card. A progressive increase in the wrong colored pixels indicates that the graphics card problem is getting worse.

Another weird artifact that you might notice is when you are playing a game on the computer. Objects in a three-dimensional computer game are created as a skeleton with a detailed surface drawing covering it to render a three-dimensional image. A faulty graphics card might show you the skeletal structure, with the surface rendering not visible.

The different types of weird artifacts will depend on what the graphics card is trying to produce/render at that moment. Dust buildup in the computer, heating issues or overclocking can also cause weird artifacts to display on your screen. Restarting your computer might fix this problem, but if you have a faulty graphics card, it will resurface again.

Anomalous Lines

A problematic graphics card may render images incorrectly, resulting in wavy lines appearing on your screen. However, unlike weird artifacts which might appear from the moment you switch on your computer, anomalous lines appear after a certain period of time or when you are playing video games which are graphic intensive.

Fuzzy/Hazy Picture

A graphic card requires more processing power to render detailed images as compared to simple ones. An erroneous graphics card may not be able to render the required quantity of details and will result in a fuzzy or hazy display of the image on your screen.

Slowing Down Animations

Since a faulty graphics card may not be able to process graphics at the required speed, animations can slow down. This could result in your video games and/or movies to stop responding.

The Dreaded Blue Screen

Computer crashes are of different types. Your machine could suddenly power off, restart by itself, lockup/freeze or show a blue screen. The bane of every computer user, a blue screen can be caused by a number of factors like a problematic RAM, a faulty/dying hard drive amongst others. However, if these symptoms appear when you are playing video games or watching a movie, tasks that require intensive graphics, you could assume that your graphics card is faulty. One good way to be sure is to check your memory dump if enabled, which will show the culprit to be blamed for the problem.

There will be some cases where there will be no symptoms on display – in fact, nothing on display at all. The graphics card may not be working from the word go. A failed graphics card will not send any signal to the monitor, resulting in a blank screen or a screen displaying a ‘No Signal’ message.

Noisy Fan

Fans in the computer start when you boot up the system. This also happens to the fan on your graphics card when you start software that utilizes three-dimensional graphics. A louder than usual sound on starting a graphics-intensive software, more like a small aircraft taking off, indicates that the graphic card is getting hot. While this may not necessarily mean a faulty graphics card – it could be dust on the fan/graphics card. If the sound persists every time you start any graphic intensive software, it would be appropriate to have the computer checked.

Crashed Drivers

This is another one of the annoying problems that can be caused by a faulty graphics card. You could be working on something important or playing a game when suddenly your screen goes black. It comes on again with a message that the video driver has crashed and the machine needed to be restarted. At times, it will report a driver problem, even when there has been no installation of any new driver software.

If you are facing any combination of these symptoms, it may be time for you to get your graphics card checked and replaced if necessary.