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Strange artifacts and flickering

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Last response: in Windows 7
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September 5, 2012 6:14:25 AM

Ok, so I have a gaming PC I built well over a year ago. I play games on it frequently. Anyways, earlier I was playing Mass Effect 3 and everything was fine. Got off the game and started browsing. All of a sudden I noticed my windows taskbar started flickering. The entire browser was doing this. Strange blue boxes around certain things. Text randomly disappearing and coming back. Icons on desktop flickering and blue boxes around it. Strange stuff...

Fired ME3 up and noticed a few black artifacts. First thing that hit my mind is a loose cable. Checked, still did it. So, next thing I check is GPU drivers. Uninstalled them and the problem went away. Cleaned my PC off and did a fresh install with the latest GPU windows certified drivers by Nvidia and the problem came back. Booted in Safe Mode and haven't seen the problem at all while I'm in Safe Mode. I'm posting in it now.

So, it sounds like a software problem to me in Windows 7. Something doesn't like my GPU drivers and I can't figure it out. The funny thing is I haven't installed anything new recently. About a month ago I do remember randomly browsing the internet and my screen going black. GPU drivers randomly corrupted. I installed new ones and the problem never happened again. Funnily enough, both problems popped up on the same site randomly, IGN.com.

I'm baffled by this one guys. Usually I can diagnose problems myself but this one is strange. I don't think it's hardware related because it only seems to do this when my GPU drivers are loaded. Since I'm in Safe Mode and my drivers aren't loaded, it's not doing it.

Really need some help here guys. I'd appreciate it.

Specs:
Windows 7 64bit fully updated
GTX 570 latest GPU drivers
4GB
1090t AMD CPU

My PC is also set to stock settings right now, no OCing. Temps are fine in my PC too...if it's hardware related, why isn't the monitor screwing up in Safe Mode? Same with my GPU? I'm thinking something is conflicting in Windows 7...
a b $ Windows 7
September 5, 2012 8:04:31 AM

Use Furmark and Prime95 to test for GPU and CPU stability. If there is issues running one of these, somethings unstable.
http://www.ozone3d.net/benchmarks/fur/
http://files.extremeoverclocking.com/file.php?f=205

Memtest would hurt either.
http://www.memtest.org/

Try running an older version of the GPU driver, maybe the new version has bug that's triggered by something in your system.

Have you got any overclocking software on the machine? While you say you haven't OC'd anything, maybe MSI Afterburner or something glitched and is applying a bad overclock. If you have some, just check that voltage and the various clock speeds are as they should. Maybe if its a factory OC'd card, reduce the speeds to true stock settings to see if that's the issue. Check in Nvidia Control Panel as well, maybe the new drivers give an overclock which your card cant handle.

Unlikely to be the issue, but run an up to date anti-virus scan in Safe Mode. Who knows, could be something that's causing issues ahead of revealing itself to make you believe the PC is gradually degrading.

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September 5, 2012 5:32:04 PM

Thanks for the responses guys. I was also thinking a possible GPU problem. I haven't done your tests yet but I'll give you a update.

I ran CHKDSK and it found no errors. Did a AV scan, nothing.

Strangely, the problem is gone right now when I booted my PC up. Everything is normal and I'm not in Safe Mode. I even fired ME3 up and everything was fine. My GPU does use factory OC'd settings. It's a Evga Superclocked GPU. Was the first 570s out when it came in December 2010. I do also run MSI Afterburner and I've long thought about uninstalling that. I don't use it for OCing though, mostly just custom profiles for my fan when it reaches certain temps.

What has me worried is this problem just randomly disappeared as fast as it appeared. That leads me to believe it could be a hardware problem and I'm going to need to diagnose this. I don't want it coming back. What's strange is it only did it when my GPU drivers were installed. So, I'm a little confused. I never had a problem with these same drivers before. Just randomly the problem appeared while browsing the internet.

I was thinking about doing a Windows repair to see if something inside Windows is corrupted? Do you guys think that would help? I'm not into using System Restore because I've had bad experiences with that. So, if the problem comes back reformat and System Restore would be a last resort for me.
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September 6, 2012 10:05:18 AM

start with the hardware first

software cannot and will not fix bad hardware
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