I'm having a problem with my graphics. Randomly my display will get distorted - squiggly lines, off colors, static-y - that sort of thing. And it'll happen while Im using it, when Im not using it, I hadn't made any changes that I can figure before it started happening. I've tried updating graphic drivers, ran virus scans. The computer can't recover from it, I have to restart. But it's not only that, it'll shut down the programs while the computer is idle, and I've notice it even restart a couple times on it's own. Is this really a graphic card problem, any suggestions on how to figure it out??
Sounds like you may have an overheating issue. This would cause all the issues you have mentioned.
Check the Temp of the card if its reporting that the card is running hot then here's what to do.
You should turn off the PC and unplug it from the Wall. Then press the on button on the case again as this will release any power stored in the PC. Then push it again so that its effectively off again ready for when you plug it back in again.
Take the side off the case and look at your Graphics card, chances are its covered in dust. Your best option is to remove the card from the system and CAREFULLY blow it off with either compressed air from a can, which is available from your local hobby shop or even PC shop, but don't blast it point blank. Either that or just blow it yourself and generally clean the card up.
If its pretty clean in the case then the problem is more likely to be the card itself giving out.
Dust and along with it Heat are very bad for the inside of a PC, this will stop teh card cooling as it should which will cause the Artifacts or image distortions you mentioned and if it gets to hot then it would indeed shut teh PC down.