How to Know If You Need a New Video Card in a Computer

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The video card does an important job for your computer, so it is important to make sure that your video card is running at optimal speed. There are a number of signs that your video card may need to be replaced. Knowing those signs will give you time to shop for a new card. By being prepared for the demise of your current video card, you can avoid any potential downtime and keep your computer humming right along.

  • Log on to your computer and right-click on "My Computer". Click on the "Hardware" tab and choose the "Device Manager" button. Expand the "Display Adapters" section by clicking on the plus sign next to it. Device Manager can be a very powerful tool for diagnosing all kinds of hardware problems, including issues with your video card.

  • Look for any yellow question marks or red exclamation points. These are signs that your video card may not be operating properly. If it is just a software problem, you may be able to resolve it by right-clicking on the video card entry in the device manager and choosing "Update Driver" from the menu. This will force the operating system to install an updated driver for your video card. If the operating system is successful at finding and installing a suitable driver you should see the exclamation point or question mark go away. If the operating system cannot find a suitable driver, you will be prompted to supply the driver. To get the driver for your video card, go to the manufacturer's website and download the latest driver. Be sure that you choose the correct driver for your operating system.

  • Check the colors on your desktop by right-clicking anywhere on the desktop and choosing the "Settings" tab. Look at the "Color Quality" setting. If the color quality setting is set at "16 colors", that is a sure indicator that the display adapter is not working properly.

  • Move your monitor cable from your standalone video card to the video card that is built into your motherboard. If you have added a dedicated video card to your system and that card is not working properly, you can return your monitor cable to the connection on the back of the computer. Just look for a small rectangular connection that is probably blue in color. Move the monitor cable and restart your computer. If the display looks good with the built-in video card but not with the one you added, it is another sign that the new video card needs to be replaced.

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