Over the last four months, I have noticed a drastic drop in my computer’s ability to run games. I have Call of Duty 4 and Call of Duty: World at War, both of which ran perfectly at 1400x900 with all settings at max or medium. But when I go to play them now, I experience momentary freezes, which I can “fix” with Ctrl-Alt-Del and then hitting Cancel (32-bit Vista Ultimate). But eventually, while playing the game, there will come a point where it just freezes the entire computer and blue screens. There are also many artifacts within the game, as well as other rendering problems. Now I have to play the games on the absolute lowest settings to delay the inevitable crash, which helps a little. Once rebooted, Vista will report either a fault from my graphics card—an Nvidia 7900 GT—or an unknown error. I have updated all my drivers, defragmented my hard drives, and re-installed the game. What’s going on here?
Brian, it sounds like you’re overheating. Either your GPU isn’t getting sufficient cooling or your PSU isn’t giving you the voltage you require. It wouldn’t hurt to power down and unplug your computer, then open it up, and make sure it’s free of dust and that the fans are unobstructed. Fresh, cool airflow through your case is essential. To clean your case, use short bursts of compressed air from a can held upright. Don’t let the fan blades spin while you’re cleaning, that can damage them. Be sure to monitor the temperature of your GPU using either the Nvidia Control Panel or a third-party app like SpeedFan ( www.almico.com ). If temps stay high, consider adding more cooling to your case or swapping out the stock GPU cooler for an aftermarket one. If your temps aren’t unreasonable (say, 50 C at full load), your PSU might be failing. You can get a power supply tester for less than $20 online.
SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION
Are flames shooting out of the back of your rig? First, grab a fire extinguisher and douse the flames. Once the pyrotechnic display has fizzled, email the doctor at
for advice on how to solve your technological woes.