What are GPU health tests and how to perform them?

 

Whether you’re trying to see how healthy your GPU is after years and years of late-night grinding on Call of Duty or you’ve just upgraded your GPU and want to test it before hopping on Red Dead Redemption 2 and enjoying the beautiful wild west, let’s look at some of the ways that you can use to check the health of your GPU.

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Table of contents

What are GPU health tests?

How to diagnose a dying GPU?

How to perform health tests

Conclusion

What’s Next?

    What are GPU health tests?

    GPU health tests are necessary, it doesn't matter if you’re using a graphics card that is only a few years old or a brand new one. You may be experiencing issues when it comes to performance, and might be thinking of replacing the card. Instead of spending hundreds and thousands of dollars on a brand-new GPU or waiting months to receive your card back on its warranty, you can usually fix a lot of the minor issues and inconveniences at home.

    However, to diagnose a dying GPU, you need to do further inspection. We’ll walk you through the process, so you know exactly how to tell if your GPU is dying.


    Before we get into the ins and outs of how to test your GPU’s health, we first recommend updating all of your drivers. Graphics card drivers are released regularly so if you have extremely outdated drivers that can cause many problems within the system itself. 


    Firstly let’s look at the symptoms, like any other component that’s declining and is going to collapse eventually, it gives signals or as we call them symptoms, your GPU is no different. 

    There are many common signs of a failing GPU.

    If your computer is crashing frequently and struggling to reboot, this could be a sign of a failing GPU. 

    If you start noticing glitches happening in game, like screen tears or glitchy graphics that other players don’t see when spectating you, this is another potential sign of a failing GPU.

    Your screen may even go blank or turn green for a moment often sometimes.

    Your computer will also get super loud, and sound like a jet engine at times.

    In rare cases sometimes it might even overheat and shut down to prevent further damage, this is a dead giveaway and requires immediate intervention by you.

     


    How to diagnose a dying GPU?


    There are many clues to observe when diagnosing a dying graphics card, but it will save you a lot of time if you go through the essential steps first. 



    1. Check Motherboard Error Codes

    Most of the motherboards nowadays will completely shut down a component if it’s no longer working; if your GPU has died this would be the easiest and the simplest way to identify it. If your motherboard doesn’t have display codes you could also try out the card in another system belonging to someone you know.

     

    2. Physical condition

    For the physical condition of the card, check first the fans and aluminum fins. The presence of dust and white dust-like corrosion can more or less tell you how bad the health of the card is. While dust won't really render a card bad, it will result in higher temperatures. If the temperatures are high, thermal paste might also need replacing. The corrosion normally happens when the card is run in a humid environment or if it was cycled between cold and hot a lot.


    3. Video output

    For video output, make sure there aren't any artefacts on any of the display output options (HDMI, VGA, DP) and that all those have a display. Blurry/inconsistent display or no display at all ports will definitely mean you have a damaged GPU. 

    When stress testing these cards, try doing it for a couple of hours. If there's any damaged memory module the benchmark tool or your PC will crash.


    How to perform health tests


    There are many ways to assess the health of your PC:


    1. Stress test

    A GPU stress test is an application that puts your graphic card through its paces; it pushes your graphics card to its absolute limits. This means full utilization of its processing power, using all the electrical power available to the card, all the while pushing the cooling capabilities of your PC by pushing the temperatures as far as they can go.

    If all of your drivers are up to date, the best way to test a failing GPU is to download and run the free tool Fur Mark. Fur Mark is designed to max out your graphics card's performance and will run a GPU health test. You will be able to tell very quickly if your GPU is the cause of your problems. 

     

    2. Benchmark

    In order to determine the performance of a graphics card, so-called "benchmarks" are carried out. The benchmark software carries out special calculations to determine the performance of a graphics card. There are two types of benchmarking, we can either use so-called theoretical/synthetic benchmarks or real game benchmarks.  There are many benchmarks available for free and paid.

    To ensure real comparability of the results, we pay attention to the correct execution of the benchmarks as well as the condition of the graphics card and the system.


    3. Check Hardware

    If the fan isn’t in a good condition, your GPU won’t be able to perform to its fullest.

    While removing the graphics card for inspection. Hover over the fan just to check that the fan(s) spin easily and freely, clean out any dust if it is clogging the fan. If it stops soon after giving a light flick with your finger, it’s a bad sign.

    If the card is a few years old, or you have no idea about the card’s history, replacing the thermal paste on the GPU ensures that the GPU is working at an optimal temperature. Some of the factory thermal compounds or paste that you get when buying a new graphics card aren’t always that great. Yes, it may do the job for a while, but after a bit of time, you may notice GPU operating temperatures increasing.

    Using a good quality thermal paste allows for better heat transfer between the GPU and the heatsink for a longer-lasting product.

     

    4. Run a temperature test

    To make sure that the GPU is running at the desired temperature we will have to perform a temperature test, you need to download a GPU tool called GPU-Z, which will open some extra panels alongside any tests or benchmarks you are running with more information about your GPU. You will see the temperature of your GPU amongst the information.

    techpower up console

    If you see that your overall GPU temperature is exceeding the recommended maximum at any time, you will need to either replace the GPU cooler or find out what is wrong with the existing cooler.



    5. Run some high-end games for a few hours

    If you have not encountered an issue yet, things are looking on the plus side however; you still need to run a few longer tests to see how your GPU copes with hours of gaming. Whether you’re running through the streets of Paris in Assassin's Creed Unity or riding a bike in Cyberpunk 2077 you need a GPU that can work tirelessly for hours. 

    Keep running the game for a minimum of 2 hours. Keep an eye out for any anomalies or anything that could indicate a faulty GPU. Some examples would be weird colours breaking up in some frames while you’re playing. You will also need to look out for consistent frame drops that could indicate a cooling problem.

     

    Conclusion 


    Testing is your friend when it comes to learning about the health of your GPU, even if you feel as if your GPU is in a perfect condition you should always test how good of a condition your GPU is in, as it can save you from a future catastrophe.

    Most of today’s games and programs demand a lot from the GPU, maybe even more than the CPU. Processing 2D and 3D graphics, rendering polygons, mapping textures, and more, require powerful, fast GPUs. The faster your graphics/video card (GPU) can process information, the more frames you will get every second.

    With the pace at which the graphical requirements of modern games and programs are increasing, your GPU has to work harder than ever and it wears down quickly. Regularly assessing the health of your GPU would make you aware of any problems your GPU may develop or if your usage is exceeding its capabilities, it is always better to change your GPU while in working condition than to have it die on you suddenly.

     

    If you have any questions feel free to contact me, you can use the comments section below or a contact form.

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