The laymans simple guide to solving graphics card issues

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It's an extremely common problem seen throughout tech forums. You've installed a new graphics card and immediately experience either severe gaming performance issues, crashes when booting into windows or other display related problems that seem to be directly related to the new card.

Some problems are more complicated than others, but as a basic reference for solving the most common issues I suggest taking the following steps to ensure the problem is not something simple that can be easily cured.

The first thing to do is make certain your power supply is not the issue.

One of the most common mistakes made by those looking to upgrade system components, especially graphics cards, is thinking that they can use their current OEM or cheap off brand unit because "somebody else" did it without encountering a catastrophe. There is a very common misconception which has been appropriately addressed countless times by experienced users, builders and contributors to tech forums worldwide for years.

Picking The Right Power Supply: What You Should Know

Just because your PSU has a label saying it's 600w and you KNOW you only need 550w, does NOT mean you are ok with that unit after upgrading to a gaming or enthusiast graphics card. Mainstream systems or those with integrated graphics, in the manner of the Intel iGPU on their i-series chips, or AMD's APUs, use much less continuous power than that which is demanded by aftermarket PCIe high end graphics cards.

Knowing that leads us to the well documented fact that there are a heck of a lot of power supplies out there, even units sold by big names like Corsair, Cooler Master and Thermaltake, that can't provide their listed capacity. More often that not, when the unit says, for example, 600w, it's actual sustained capacity is much less. It might not even be capable of peaking anywhere near that.

Don't be surprised when your cheap PSU blows up

If you are upgrading to a high end GPU solution you are well served by also confirming you have a high quality, exceptionally reliable power supply to eliminate the potential for complications or even hardware failures. Using a model listed at a position of Tier 2B or higher on Dottorent's PSU Tier list, while not considered an ultimate reference, is a very good basic guideline to determining if the unit you have or intend to purchase will be suitable or not.

Dottorent's PSU Tier List

Power supply discussion and review links page

Using a Tier 3 or lower power supply with a high end graphics card, which for the sake of having a reference point we'll consider to be anything above a GTX 750 or R7 240, is a risky endeavor. If you currently have issues related to the graphics card and you are using a Tier 3 or lower unit, there is a good chance the two are related. If your PSU is NOT on the Tier list, and you can't find a major review from a respected review site that specializes in power supply testing that reflects a high probability of quality in that unit, it's probably junk. No offense to you or your poor PSU.

( To be honest, if you really care about your rig, just don't EVER use a Tier 3 or lower unit if possible regardless of your configuration unless it's absolutely necessary due to your budget and only if you know for certain you are NEVER going to upgrade graphics or overclock. A Tier 2B or higher unit has the potential to last through several builds, while a lower tiered unit may or may not be around to see the end of your current systems lifetime.)

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