Will replacing the video card fix my problem?

Joseph November 28, 2010
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Over the summer my computer overheated. Since then when I try and run graphics intensive software – games mostly, but some photo editing as well – it causes the computer display to go black. Sound continues and so does the gameplay or program that is running.

If I replace the video card would that fix the problem? The computer is a Dell dimension C521 with a 256 ATI Radeon X1300 Pro. Here is link to the dell page with the specs on it – not that I can make heads or tails of since it’s all Dell part numbers.

  1. Thomas Milham
    December 29, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Maybe try a more powerful fan?

    Or check in BIOS or find a program to check the heat of the CPU etc.

    Goodluck,
    T Milham

  2. Joseph
    November 29, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    @Sueska When it first happened, I found that the CPU heat sink was clogged with dust, so I got that all cleaned out. the video card does not have it's own fan. As for adding a fan, It currently has the side of the case removed with a desk fan blowing on the video card. As for taking the card in to be tested, any idea if they would need the whole computer, or just the card? probably depends on the shop right?

    This is actually the second video card that has been replaced in this computer. Unfortunately it is no longer under warranty, so this will all be out of pocket expense.

    @Smayonak There are no yellow or red icons in the device manager. Thanks for the links I will give those a shot and report back what I find.

  3. Smayonak
    November 29, 2010 at 9:00 am

    Hello Joseph,

    Sueska's advice is really very good. I would like to add that most big name electronics retailers have very lenient return policies - even on opened products. It may prove advantageous to check out your local electronics retailer's return policy. You could buy the unit, test it - and if it works, you've isolated the problem. And if not, you'll get your money back.

    Video issues are among the most complex to solve, due to all the various components that go into video processing. Thus, you may need to troubleshoot more than just the video card. For example, the motherboard can cause video issues if the Northbridge or PCI ports are damaged.

    One quick diagnostic that may isolate heat as a problem would be to use a stress test program like Orthos to run up the temps on your CPU.

    http://www.overclock.net/downloads/138142-orthos.html

    And combine that with a temperature monitoring tool, like HWMonitor. It will tell you whether or not your temps are getting out of control.

    http://www.cpuid.com/hwmonitor.php

    Here's a great PC troubleshooting flowchart:

    http://www.fonerbooks.com/pcrepair.htm

    One final thing to think about: overheating rarely causes serious physical damage on the first crash - your computer has safeguards that automatically shut it down in the event of an overheat. However, abrupt, emergency shutdowns can cause software errors. You may want to check your device manager to see if any component has a yellow or red icon next to it. If so, try reinstalling it.

  4. UKOHARA
    November 29, 2010 at 6:46 am

    hi joseph,

    well i cannot say exactly what can be the reason of your problem but i also tried to check the tech specifications to find a solution but the company support page is not making sense.. all the info is in numbers so it is useless.. but the symptoms of your computers seems to me might get rectified with new graphic card... this is the ready made solution i can think of at the moment.... because graphic card is the main hardware used during graphic content usage.. try to change it or if it is in warranty then ask the company to solve your problem... i will look further into this.. i'll update u.

  5. Sueska
    November 29, 2010 at 3:57 am

    Before you run out and buy another video card, you may want to check a few things. Why did your PC overheat in the first place? Are all your fans working properly?

    Take the case apart and see if there is a video card built on fan. If yes, power the PC up and examine the fan for proper functioning. Verify it is not filled with dust and make sure it spins when you when you power up the PC.

    Check if you have a properly working case fan which is typically mounted in the front of the case blowing back toward the mother board. (note - don't confuse case fan with power supply fan)

    Verify that your processor fan is working properly.

    If you don't have a case fan you might want to consider adding a case fan to blow toward your video card.

    Another option is to have a repair shop test your video card before you purchase a new one. I would still look at preventing what caused the PC to overheat first.