PC crashes colourfully when running graphical applications (eg. DirectX)

Posted on 2008-11-15
Last Modified: 2013-12-26
A long while back I swapped out my old graphics card for a new GeForce 8600 GT. It was an upgrade from an earlier GeForce, and quite a substantial leap from 256Mb to 1Gb. A problem which was noted early on was the crashing, but it's rather unusual in how it crashes because it will only do this once.

Firstly, I can run absolutely any desktop application which doesn't require DirectX without problems. Everything from web browsing and programming to viewing movies in Windows Media Player. However, games like Red Alert 3, City of Heroes or Final Fantasy XI (to name the most commonly used) crash after running them for a few minutes.

The crash itself makes the screen go psychadelic. Colours change into bright pinks and dark shades, with a very stark contrast, but still being able to make out the game running in the background. Leave it long enough under this and it will eventually display a Blue Screen of Death, but because of the 'artifacting' (similar to JPG) going on it's impossible to read the message.


Shutting down the PC by holding the power button and then powering the system back on will allow me to then run the SAME applications without any crashing. Full functionality will continue until the system is, once again, powered down.

Because I can still use my PC, I've never really considered this a top priority, but it's finally gotten on my nerves enough to see if I can finally get it sorted. Hopefully some of the brilliant minds here can shed some light on this mysterious issue.
Question by:NeoGenesis10
    LVL 19

    Assisted Solution

    by:Rob Hutchinson
    Did you download the lastest driver from the NVidia website?
    LVL 2

    Accepted Solution

    I'd run a dxdiag and under the display tab check things out by doing the tests located there.  if you can do those without crashing it should rule out DX and you can start looking at the card.  

    I had a similar issue about 3 months back, I just swapped out my card and everything worked ok.  Once it got past 69 C the card would do the exact same thing.  It should've been able to run a lot hotter but something got messed up at the manufacturers I guess.
    LVL 2

    Expert Comment

    It was an 8800 by the way.
    LVL 2

    Expert Comment

    To follow up you may want to run a benchmark test and see if that locks it too. Here is a free one that I use:

    If you can pinpoint when it crashes you may be able to narrow it down.  I would guess this is a hardware issue.  

    You may want to run some temp monitor software as well.

    If everything checks out fine there you should also check to see if your PSU is powerful enough.  Games like CoH and FFXI will put a lot more load on your PC than a video will.

    Author Comment

    I thank you for your answers, but the strangest part of the crashing is it's random nature making it almost impossible to nail down the solution.

    Power might well be an issue, and I did upgrade my PSU in order to try and offset that, to no avail. Perhaps a further upgrade is in order, or perhaps it would be a futile attempt and the graphics card itself is at fault.

    The benchmark tool you supplied did, indeed, lock up the system and im unable to get any useful information out of Event Viewer. Furthermore, DX tests will also cause a crash in the same way.

    Once again, the odd part about it is that rebooting the machine and running all of these applications means they will function flawlessly, without question. I can run benchmarking tools (such as 3D Mark), play games and run any DX test I choose to. As long as the machine remains active, these programs will NOT crash. However, once the system is rebooted again the system reverts to it's one-time crash mode.
    LVL 1

    Assisted Solution

    The first thing I would try personally is completely cleaning the drivers, then installing the latest ones.

    Boot into safe mode, uninstall whatever bits you can from the add/remove programs menu, then clean up the rest of the bits with DriverCleaner Professional.

    Failing that, it may be a good idea to check your temperatures while gaming, but since you say this is a weird one time thing, and they work fine afterwards, I can't see this being an issue. Honestly, my next guess would have been the power supply, but since that has been replaced, I'd like to say that is non issue as well.

    Hopefully this isn't a hardware issue.

    Author Closing Comment

    I've come to the conclusion that the graphics card itself is at fault, having fairly well elimintated all other possibilities. It ran perfectly fine with a different graphics card inserted, so it looks like it was a hardware issue after all.

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