Video card help

Hey guys I was wondering if anyone has had this problem or knows what it is causing it.

I have a evga GTX 280 and its been running fine until recently when it started to do this:

When I start the computer and it goes into windows normally you get this loading screen:

Well sometimes it freezes on that screen and instead I get stuck with this:

Basically the whole screen turns a random color and freezes on that color.

Also when it does get to windows normally, sometimes when i start programs it will randomly freeze and the screen looks like this:
but I can tell behind the bad graphics its working because that white box is where the mouse is and I can move it around like this:
and I can also hear the sounds of what ever Im running like usual.

For instance If I log on ventrilo (voice chat program) and it crashes to that purple screen, I can still move the white box (where the mouse is) and still hear the people Im speaking to.

Or If I crash while a game is loading I can still hear the background music of that game.

The weird problem is that if I fully load the program or the game, its fine, it doesn't crash even for hours.
Also in firefox when Im just looking at websites (not even graphically intense ones, like no pictures, no videos), even reading forums, it will work fine, no problems and lets say I move the mouse to click "Next Page" or "Page 2", when I hover the mouse above the link it will crash to the purple screen again.

This GTX 280 is from about 3 years ago (not 100% sure). I thought it might have been over heating as it was stock so a month ago I put a zalman video card cooler on it and it idles at around 40c give or take. When I ran the "blur donut stress test" it didnt go above 70 ever and I left for 20minutes or more and didnt crash. Even right now when Im playing games (when they fully load and get past all the intro screens) at high or max settings it doesnt overheat or crash.

I searched for this problem but it was hard to describe so I couldn't find many good results. One suggestion was that the vram went bad and I tried to see if it did by using a video memory test program and the results were:

"[11/11/2010 11:03:52 AM] Test started for "Primary Display Driver (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280)"...
Trying 16bpp RGB:565 mode...OK
TEST FAIL (Code: 8876017C)
Trying 16bpp RGB:555 mode...OK
TEST FAIL (Code: 8876017C)
Trying 16bpp BGR:565 mode...NOT SUPPORTED (Code: 80004001)
Trying 32bpp RGB:888 mode...OK
TEST FAIL (Code: 8876017C)
Trying 32bpp BGR:888 mode...NOT SUPPORTED (Code: 80004001)

From the results I can see something is wrong but searching the error codes I didnt find something concrete to say whats wrong.

If anyone knows whats wrong or confirm the vram is bad please provide any information because Im sure others have had this problem and couldn't find the answer.

Most likely Im going to order a new card since I can't RMA when I put the zalman heatsink on it.

keywords: graphics, distorted, smearing, static, purple black, crash, freeze, load

Thanks for any help guys.
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  1. I am having *exactly* the same problem as you on my EVGA GTX 280. It started around the same date as you reported your problem (11/11/10). It was absolutely fine before that.

    It was running an older video driver ( and I updated to the latest whql driver and the same problem occurs.

    If anybody has any info on this, I would be VERY appreciative!
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