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Random freezing with graphical corruption - is my graphics card going bad?


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#1 BFG99

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 02:22 PM

Hi! This is my first post on BleepingComputer, although I've anonymously browsed the forums for quite some time. I'm posting here as I'm ceding defeat to the latest problem encountered on my laptop.

My laptop has started randomly freezing - up to 2x per night, but usually only 1x per week. The freezes can occur at any time: while using Internet Explorer 9, ripping CDs to MP3s, playing Plants vs. Zombies or Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, or even while the laptop is sitting idle. The freezes are usually accompanied by graphical corruption such as the mouse pointer turning into an interleaved white square, wavy vertical purple lines, etc. Rarely, I will see a TDR event (stop and reboot of the graphics driver) just before the freeze, and I will sometimes also observe a system slowdown or 30 second temporary freeze before the final freeze event. I have never seen a BSOD.

I have tried every (software) recourse I can think of to resolve the issue, including:
  • Chkdsk and Defrag
  • RAM memory tests
  • vRAM memory tests - revealed errors when onscreen buffer was used, but no problems otherwise
  • Temperature monitors - both CPU cores and the GPU stay well below 70
  • Antivirus/antimalware scans, using Norton IS 2013 and Malwarebytes
  • Windows updates
  • BIOS and driver updates (including the Intel chipset)
  • Registry cleaners
  • Temporary/useless file cleaners
  • Windows troubleshooting, Administrative Tools, Event Viewer, etc. - no relevant Events are ever listed
I have NOT tried a Restore Point but doubt it would do much good.

Because of the vRAM memory test results and the symptoms, I suspect a problem with the graphics card, but cannot be certain.



So, here're my questions:
  • Is there any diagnostic tool/software/etc. I can use to definitively isolate the root cause? What software would you recommend to check the GPU, vRAM, power supply, etc.?
  • What other causes, or tools/memory dumps/etc. to isolate the cause, could I be overlooking?
  • Why would the onscreen buffer vRAM test fail, but not the standard vRAM test? (I was using "Video Memory Stress Test".)
  • If this is a graphics card failure, then why is it as likely to happen when I'm running Internet Explorer as when I'm running a 3D game?
  • How could I go about replacing the card? (We are talking about an old laptop, after all.)



Stats:
Asus M50VM-A1 laptop (Sept. 2008)
Windows 7 Ultimate x64, DirectX 11
Intel Core II Duo 2.26 GHz
Nvidia GeForce 9600M GS 1GB, stock clock, latest WHQL driver (310.90)
4 GB RAM + 15 GB ReadyBoost (via SDHC card)
320GB hard drive

Edited by BFG99, 09 January 2013 - 02:23 PM.


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#2 BFG99

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 05:03 PM

*Help me, BleepingComputer, you're my only hope!*

Well, not really. But, if no one knows the answers to the above questions, maybe they will to this one:
How can I find a replacement mobile graphics card whose form factor is compatible with my laptop? Is it even possible to find a new mobile graphics card that's the same size and shape, but not the same model as the original?

#3 BFG99

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 11:12 PM

Anyone have even vague ideas?

#4 hamluis

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 05:41 PM

Please download MiniToolBox , save it to your desktop and run it.

Checkmark the following checkboxes:
List last 10 Event Viewer log
List Installed Programs
List Users, Partitions and Memory size.

Click Go and paste the content into your next post.

Also...please Publish a Snapshot using Speccy - http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/topic323892.html/page__p__1797792#entry1797792 .

Louis

#5 BFG99

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 01:56 PM

Thanks for the MiniToolBox suggestion! I may have found the solution on my own - it turns out older Nvidia mobile graphics cards can become unstable with the newest drivers if the power profile is set to "adaptive". I have changed the profile to "prefer maximum performance", and so far, have encountered no further freezes. If I do, I'll post the MiniToolBox results as requested.

#6 hamluis

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 04:20 PM

:thumbup2: .

Louis




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