OS: Win 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit (with very few or no Windows updates done, if that matters)
Mobo: Intel DH77EB
CPU: Intel i5-3750 3.4GHz
RAM: 16GB via 2x Corsair Vengeance 8GB
PSU: Corsair TX650
Disks: Brand new Crucial SSD and brand new Hitachi HDD (and a near-dead Seagate HDD)
The GPU in question: Roughly 4 year old Nvidia Geforce GTX 660 Ti (Gigabyte) - I do not overclock.
This is a fairly recent install of Windows on a new SSD (due to near-dead HDD). Windows had been mentioning I need to activate (it was counting down the days last I checked), but I wasn't using my PC all that much and I hadn't bothered yet. PC was operating normally, I was playing a game (Overwatch) on one screen, and streaming Youtube on the other.
Very suddenly, pretty much exactly as the Youtube video ended (which seemed very coincidental), and during playing the game, both of my monitors went black. A few error sounds played. It seemed as though Windows was still operating in the background, but without a display, I chose to turn the PC off.
Upon reboot, both screens remained black the entire time. I could not see the BIOS screen, the Windows loading screen, or anything, but it sounded like Windows started up normally. I shut it off again. I disconnected my near-dead HDD, just in case.
I plugged a monitor into the motherboard and was able to see again. Upon loading windows, it now immediately notified me that my version of windows was not validated and that I may be a victim of software piracy or whatever it is that it says. (Seems very coincidental that it just happened to be happening right after the black screen problem - Could this possibly have had something to do with it?)
I successfully activated/validated Windows, but when I use my GPU, the screens still remain black. The 660 Ti GPU does not show up in DXdiag (instead says "Standard VGA Graphics Adapter"), Device Manager, GPU-Z, or GeForce Experience. I tried manually installing the latest driver from the Nvidia website, but the driver failed to find my 660 Ti.
My assumption is that my video card suddenly died, but with the oddness of the events around it, and because I've never had this happen before, I'm not 100% sure what to do next. What can I do to double check before I break my wallet on a new graphics card? Are there some tests I can run or ways I can try to get my PC to see the GPU again? Or is it surely dead?
(Less important side-question: Gigabyte offers $45+shipping on video card repairs with a 90 day warranty, is this kind of option worthwhile?)
Thank you in advance, I appreciate the help I get on this site hugely.