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[ The PC Guide | Troubleshooting and Repair Guide | The Troubleshooting Expert | Troubleshooting Specific Components | Troubleshooting Video Cards | Failure or Improper Operation ]

I suspect a possible general failure related to my video card

Explanation: The video card appears to have failed. The PC may be refusing to boot up and the video card is suspected as the cause of the problem, or there may be an unusual error condition that implicates the video subsystem.

Diagnosis: There are many possible causes for a video card failure. Actual failure of the card itself is relatively rare but does happen. More often, the problem is due to misconfiguration or resource conflicts.


  • If you have recently assembled this PC, or you have recently performed an upgrade to it, check here for possible general problems with new systems.
  • Make sure that the video card is tightly and completely inserted into its slot. Try powering down, removing and reinserting the card and then rebooting.
  • On older video cards, you may have a problem with "chip creep" on the card itself. If there are any chips on the card that are in sockets, gently but firmly press them into the socket. You may find that they had worked themselves loose and that this solves the problem.
  • Watch out for resource conflicts, especially with PCI video cards that often take an IRQ channel via the PCI slot they are inserted into. This IRQ usage is something that isn't always well-known, since before PCI, video cards using IRQs was less common. Sometimes changing the slot that the video card is in will solve the problem, generally because this causes the card to use a different IRQ (there could be a motherboard problem with the slot too, of course).
  • If you have added a video card to a PC that originally had an integrated video card on the motherboard, you must disable this integrated video via a BIOS setting or motherboard jumper before adding the new video card. Otherwise, they will conflict with each other and neither will work.
  • If you have another (identical) video card available for a quick test, try swapping the video card with this spare and see if the problem clears up. If it does, then put the original video card back in again and see if the problem returns. If it does, then you can feel pretty confident that the original video card itself is probably bad. If two different identical video cards both don't work, try using a simple, plain VGA card in the system and see if the problem goes away. If it does, then it is likely that the original video card is misconfigured, experiencing a resource conflict with another device, or simply not compatible with something in your PC (which is rare).
  • If possible, try the video card in another PC. If it works there, then the video card itself is probably not the problem, but configuration or a resource conflict is implicated. Of course, if the card doesn't work in another PC, there is a good chance it is bad (assuming it is jumpered properly).
  • If you just added more video memory to the video card, try removing it and seeing if the problem goes away. If it does, then this means either that the video memory is bad, is the wrong type or was inserted incorrectly. Put it back into the video card and make sure you do this correctly. If the problem recurs, obtain a replacement for the extra memory. Make sure you are getting the exact memory that your video card requires. Make sure that if someone is adding more memory to the card, that they use identical memory to what was in the card before, and that it is all the same speed. I've sometimes seen vendors add memory to a video card and use different speeds of RAM, which can cause problems.
  • Try disabling shadowing of the video ROM.
  • If you are running a VESA local bus system, you may experience system problems if your motherboard is being run at over the nominal 33 MHz system speed. This includes potential problems if you are using a VESA local bus video card in a VLB/PCI combination motherboard running over 40 MHz.
  • Some combination VLB/PCI motherboards have difficulties with using the VLB slot or slots that they include. In many cases the engineering on these motherboards is poor, and insufficient testing was done with both the PCI and VESA local buses running simultaneously. The best recommendation is to replace the VLB video card with a PCI one, which are quite inexpensive now.

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