This is my desktop: http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c01... I have this desktop for 4 years now. I knew that the fan of the 9500GS is always making a loud, cranky noise constantly when I turn on the computer everyday. It is because the fan was defective and I already missed the HP fan replacement program for this desktop. The graphics card was fine until September 11, 2012. When I turned it on, I hear that the graphics fan is not spinning fast like it used to. It spins fast for a while and then spin really slow. I was thinking it might be nothing. So I decided to play Guild Wars 2. After playing for a few hours, the game started to lag. The fps was 1-5fps. I played this game with 1920x1080 and almost all settings maxed. When I usually played this game, there was never any lag whatsoever. So I thought maybe because the latest update for the game caused this because I checked the game forum and other people have similar problems with low frame rates. I decided to play League of Legends instead. The game has an update as well like Guild Wars 2. I played the game for like around 10 minutes and the game started to lag just like Guild Wars 2. It is unplayable. I went and checked their game forum and people also experience the low frame rates as well. So I thought maybe it was the patch for the game as well. Now I decided to play a couple of my Steam singleplayer games to see if the lag happens again. After 10 minutes of every game I tried, the games went from smooth frame rates to low unplayable frame rates. Before September 11 for the past few years, every game I played never went to such low frame rates. This problem only happens when I play games. When I surf the web or watch videos, I see no lag. So I shutdown my computer and open the side panel. I turned my computer on and I see the graphics fan spinning fast booting up. When I login, the fan started spinning really slow and quiet. The fan is supposed to be loud or making some noise the entire time the computer is on. So I turned off the computer and unplug everything. I touch the graphics card and it was really hot. So I plugged everything back and turn on the computer. I downloaded GPU-Z and opened it. It reads that the GPU temperature was around 70C on idle and fan speed 100%. So I launched one of my games and played for a few minutes. I alt-tab and check GPU-Z. The temperature went to a little over 90C. So I continued playing until the game's frame rates drop to unplayable rates. I alt-tab again and the temperature went over 100C. Now I know the card must be overheating. I quit the game and continued looking at GPU-Z. I am expecting the temperature to go back down since I quit the game. I waited for a few minutes but the temperature kept staying around 100C. Sometimes it goes down to around 90C, but it never went back down to 70C. The only way the temperature is 70C is everytime the computer starts up. I read online that the normal temperature is usually around 40-60C. Even my laptop stays around 30-55C. I don't know what the temperature was before September 11 because I just downloaded the GPU-Z currently. I'm pretty sure the temperature should be 40C-60C. I also downloaded another GPU temperature monitor program to check my graphics card's temperature. It reads the same temperature. So two days ago, I went to buy some compressed-gas dusters from Staples. I opened the side panel and take out my graphics card (My warranty should already be over. It's been 4 years.). I thoroughly clean it with the duster (The fan, heatsink, etc.). I put back the graphics card to the desktop. The graphics card was dusty. So maybe that was the issue. I turned on my desktop and the overheat issue still exist. So dust is not the culprit.
Is my graphics card dying or is it the thermal paste? Maybe it is the graphics fan? I read that this desktop has bad airflow.
I'm thinking of buying a intake case fan. Does this desktop allow an extra fan to be installed? I'm thinking of connecting the fan to the PSU. I want the fan to aim down at the graphics card. I want the fan to be between the PSU and the graphic card. I'm looking at the insides, but it looks impossible to put it there. If I can't install a case fan, can I installed a slot fan? Something that looks like this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
The temporary solution for me for now is remove the side panel. Then I placed my small regular fan next to the tower and aim it inside (Directly aimed at the graphics card) on high. This solution does helps. I checked the GPU temperature on GPU-Z and it's 50-60C on idle and 60C-70C when playing games. The fan speed is around 25% with the solution. Without this solution, the fan speed stays 100% forever regardless of temperature.
So what should I do? I don't really want to buy a new graphics card unless I have to and it is compatible with my desktop. I prefered the best GT or GTX card thats under $100 since I mainly use the desktop for gaming. If this problem can be fixed without getting a new graphics card, then please bring suggestions. If you need me to buy something, please only things that are available in Staples, Office Depot, or if I have to, Fry's Electronics.
No the graphics card is not failing. However your fan is failing. I know of this because up until about a month ago I owned a 9500 GT (which is almost exactly the same as GS). My fan died about a year ago. I had owned it for 3 years. I had similar problems as you do. It's all just overheating, the card under clocks itself to keep it from killing itself, hence your sudden low frame rates. What I did was rig a small fan on the side of my case. However your case probably doesn't have mesh there for you to do that.
The fix for you is simple. Buy a pci slot VGA cooler and mount it under your gfx card. Heres what it looks like.
Thanks for the suggestions. I decided to take your first suggestion, Deemo13. I got myself the 6670 GDDR5. It is $89.99. The rebate for this card is only online. I went to Frys and it did not post any rebates. The card is pretty good. It isn't as loud as my GS card. The temperature was like around 50C and fan speed is 50% idle for this card. The card recommends a 400Watts or higher PSU and I have a 300Watts. The card works right now. I'm concern if it can blow up my desktop. I'll try to not play games in max settings or overlock (I never overlock anyways) to stay on the safe side.