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Windows 7: Can a particular driver "zap" a card?

10 Aug 2011   #1

Can a particular driver "zap" a card?

Hi there everyone,

Last night, I was notified that an updated driver was available for my nvidia 9800gt so I downloaded it. I have no idea why I did, as I never have a trouble-free upgrade but I must not have been thinking.

My upgrade consisted of nothing more than downloading the driver running it and restarting. I didn't uninstall first and I didn't run driver sweeper. I figured in the age of microchips smaller than the eye can see, phones more powerful than computers that filled whole rooms in the 80's and whatnot that the whole "upgrade" thing would work. Hehe.

After restart, I started the computer, hopped into a game. Within about a minute, the computer began drawing the image disjointedly(bands in the image flickered) and then the monitor went dark and notified me of no input. A hard shutdown was the only thing that would get the computer up and running again.

So I decided to do it right. I rebooted into safe mode, uninstalled all aspects of the nvidia package, ran driver sweeper rebooted and installed the 280 package and rebooted again.

Same symptoms, only this time it happened while at the desktop. Reboot again, and it happens in-game within a few seconds.

Thinking it might be a driver incompatibility, I reboot into safe mode, uninstall drivers, driver sweep and roll back to my 275 driver which has worked fine for months. Reboot.

Exact same symptoms. I lose video input in mere seconds of entering a game.

Causing further concern is the fact that when booting up now, I'm getting artifacts during the boot process like dots all over the dell splash and exclamation points all over the screen during the boot process.

I tried moving the video cable to the other port on the card, but the issue persists.

So my question is this: Is it possible for a driver to cause physical damage to a video card? Is it just an incredible coincidence that the card died at the exact same moment as it was being upgraded or is there another possibility that I'm missing?

Any thoughts and suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Aug 2011   #2

Windows 7 x64 Ultimate

If the driver caused the cooling fan to not turn on or run at too low an RPM while the GPU was in heavy use then yes, the card could have suffered from some heat related problems that could be permanent. Anything from burning out part of the GPU to damaging RAM or even overheating to the point of losing a weak solder connection to any of the chips.

Some time ago there was a driver that would do just that and some time ago nvidia (along with others) was having a bad run of poor solder problems on their cards that you could be affected by. Simply a number of heat/cold cycles would pop solder connections off the GPU or ram ships... SO it could be either or both.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Aug 2011   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

If you are getting artifacts during the boot process, the card has probably sustained critical damage, either from heat or it could be driver related.
On that note, a similar thing happened to a friend of mine, he had a 9800GT & it worked great - until he upgraded the drivers. That same day while playing CoD4, he got severe artifacting until the card "burned out" & there was no signal. Card dead. Coincidence?
Next day, I checked his PC, no dust(he was dilligent about keeping it clean), no excessive heat(good airflow in case) & recommended a new card for him to buy. Even I was stumped & couldn't figure out the cause of failure.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

10 Aug 2011   #4


Thank you both very much for your help.

I'm wondering what NVIDIA card I might be able to upgrade to for around a couple hundred dollars?
I ask because I have a habit of picking the wrong horse when it comes to Vid cards.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Aug 2011   #5

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

What are your system specs?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Aug 2011   #6


Very sorry. I should have thought of that.

It's a Dell XPS 420 (specs). I can't seem to get it to run long enough to get system info, but I saw 4 core temps on the processor when diagnosing and I know I upgraded to 4 gb of memory.

Please let me know if I can provide more.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Aug 2011   #7

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Alright, you most likely have a quad core CPU (Q6600).
If you're getting an Nvidia card, I recommend something like a GTX 460, 470 or 480;
anything past that would most likely be bottlenecked by your CPU.
You'll have to upgrade your PSU, according to the specs you either have a 375 or 425W one.
That probably wont be enough, since it's a stock Dell PSU. A quality brand (Corsair, Seasonic, Antec)
500 or 600W PSU would suffice, depending on the card you'll choose.
Use this to determine the PSU power needed: PSU Calculator Lite.
Back to GPU brands: EVGA, PNY, Zotac, ASUS, Msi or Gigabyte are all quality brands,
but get a card with twin fans & highest warranty(some EVGA cards have a lifetime warranty).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Aug 2011   #8


Thanks very much for all your help.

This is the cheapest name brand power supply I was able to find: Corsair Builder Series CX600 600 watt 80 Plus Certified Power Supply Compatible with Intel and AMD Platforms ATX 700 CMPSU-600CXV2:Amazon:Electronics

And with the ps, I can't seem to afford anything other than the 460. I found this one:
EVGA GeForce GTX460 1024 MB DDR5 PCI-Express Graphics Card with Lifetime Warranty 01G-P3-1371-AR:Amazon:Electronics

I looked up the service tag and the processor is a q6600. Would both of these products be compatible with the pc?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Aug 2011   #9

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

You're very welcome.

The PSU is a good choice, as long as you've calculated the power needed for the system & new card.
It has two 6-pin connectors needed by the EVGA GTX 460 card & more importantly 40A/480W on the 12V rail.
Both products you chose are compatible with your PC; even though you most likely have a BTX form motherboard, the PSU connectors are compatible.
Here are a couple of tutorials to help you out:
Install a new graphics card
Drivers: clean left over files after uninstalling hardware
I recommend that you first boot to safe mode(after you install your new PSU & graphics card) and uninstall your old card's drivers with Driver Sweeper, reboot and only then install drivers for your new card: EVGA Drivers or Nvidia Drivers.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Can a particular driver "zap" a card?

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