Graphics driver crashes

Microsoft Windows 7 ultimate 32-bit
August 5, 2010 at 00:53:41
Specs: Windows 7, 2.2 Ghz/ 1 GB
When it crashes, I often hear a low, electronic buzzing sound in my speakers (not always), artifacts appear on my screen, the display stops and I'm forced to restart. The problem usually appears even after restarting, although it doesn't always end in a crash. No blue screen or error appears.

The problem appears to be intermittent. The problem can happen at any time (while booting, playing, typing or even while idle). It does not however, happen in Safe Mode.

Video card temperature is at a fairly constant 60 C. The problem can happen immediately after booting (even if the PC is off for days). Card is not overclocked, AFAIK.

Drivers are up to date.

Can someone please point out the possible cause of the problem?

Some Specs:
NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GT; 512 MB memory
MS Windows 7 Ultimate; 32-bit
RAM; 1.00 GB (Yes, yes, it's minimal. I know that already)
AMD Sempron LE-1250; 2.20 Ghz

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August 5, 2010 at 07:37:59
If you ever get the symptoms before Windows loads while booting, they can't be caused by a problem with any software on the hard drive - those are the symptoms of a hardware problem.

Some mboards have 8600GT onboard video.
The term CARD is frequently mis-used. It is NOT a CARD unless the video adapter is on a physical board (PCB) that installs in a mboard slot and that can be removed.

If this is on a desktop computer, and the video adapter is on an actual CARD in a slot
- unplug the cord to the computer, or otherwise switch off the AC power to the computer
- open up the case - e.g. if it's a tower, remove the left side panel as seen from the front of the computer
- remove the video card from it's slot. Some PCI-E X16 slots have a clip on the inner end of the slot that you must move in order to remove the card.
- wipe off the slot contacts on the card with a tissue or soft cloth
- if the card has just a heat sink, or a. fan, clean off any accumulated mung - dust, lint, etc. - on the fan and the heat sink under it - but DO NOT use a vacuum cleaner to do that.
- install the card. Make sure it's all the way down in it's slot, and that it's fastened at it's bracket, and if the slot has a clip that retains the inner end, move it so that the card can't move upwards there if applicable.

- remove the ram module(s). Wipe off the contacts on them with a tissue or soft cloth. Install the ram module(s) making sure that the notch on the contact edge lines up with the bump in the bottom of the slot, the modules are all the way down in it's / their slot(s), and the latchesat the ends of the slot(s) are against the end of the module(s).

- find the label on the power supply, and look for the total output capacity rating. In this case, that must be at least a minimum 300 watts for a system with a 8600GT video adapter.

- if the cpu fan and heat sink has mung on it / them - dust. lint, etc. - clean that off, but DO NOT use a vacuum cleaner to do that.

Restore the AC power to your system, try the computer.

If this is on a desktop computer, and the video adapter is built into the mboard, do all that applies in the above

If this is on a laptop, remove the ram, do similar to the above with the ram. Both the AC adapter connection and the main battery must be removed before you do that.

If you still get symptoms, artifacts - random bits of color, lines, etc. that are not supposed to be there - those are almost always caused by a hardware problem, not a software problem.

If this is a desktop computer
- is the power supply capacity at least 300 watts ?
If it isn't, you need to get at least that and install it.

- go into the bios Setup and find the current voltage readings. What is supposed to be +3.3v, +5v, and +12v must be within 10% of the nominal values - if any of those are not, replace the power supply with one that has at least a 300 watt output capacity.

If the voltages are OK there and the capacity of the PSis at least 300 watts....
The video adapter's chipset is probably damaged.
I've seen and heard of video adapter chipsets that were damaged such that the video is fine while booting and in Safe mode, but when the specific video drivers for the video chipset are loaded when you boot normally, you get artifacts, etc.

You could try un-installing the video software in Control Panel - Programs and Features in Enable low resolution mode (you may not be able to do that in Safe mode) , installing them again using the proper download or installation program on a CD you got with the card or the brand name computer, but that probably will not help.
( DO NOT install video drivers when the New Hardware pop up appears - CANCEL that ! )

If this is a desktop computer...

If the PS is failing, or if it doesn'y have enough capacity, you can usually replace it with any decent standard sized standard ATX PS .

Standard (PS/2) power supply size - 86mm high, 150mm wide, 140mm deep, or 3 3/8" h x 5 7/8" w x 5 1/2" d , or very close to that, though the depth can be more or less for some PSs.

Don't buy an el-cheapo PS.
See response 3 in this:

Your power supply must have at least the minimum capacity required to support a system with the graphics card you are using installed, or the max graphics card you might install in the future.
(Onboard video - video built into the mboard - IS NOT A CARD ! )
If that info is not in the ad for the video card, you can go to the video card maker's web site and look up the specs for the model - often under system requirements - the minimum PS wattage, and, more important, the minimum amperage the PS must supply at 12v is stated. If you don't find that, any card with the same video chipset including any letters after the model number has very similar minimum PS requirements. Some power supplies have two or more +12v ratings - in that case, add those ratings to determine the total +12v current capacity.

If you're a gamer...
In most if not all cases, the max capacity rating of the PS is an intermittent rating. It's recommended that you do not load your PS to any more that 80% of that rating if you are going to be using something that puts a constant load on it, such as playing a recent game for hours on end. In that case, you multiply the min capacity stated for the system with the particular video chipset on the card by 1.25 to find the min. capacity of the PS you should get.

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