Troubleshooting a Laptop Video Card

Usually, you’ll have no problems with your laptop video card. The graphics should appear on screen and move with no problem. It can happen that sometimes the video and graphics won’t work properly, however, and then you need to troubleshoot your laptop graphic card. In general, this is an easy process. The vast majority of laptop video card problems come from outdated or faulty drivers.

Step 1 - Chipset Drivers

The first thing to look at when troubleshooting a laptop video card is the chipset drivers. These ensure everything on the motherboard is running as it should. There are free programs to determine what chipsets you have. Follow the instructions to find the drivers, then go to the manufacturer’s website and download the latest drivers. Double click on the downloaded file to install these drivers. You’ll need to restart the computer for them to become effective.

Step 2 - Video Card Drivers

The main problem with a laptop video card is the video drivers. You need to determine what video card you have (click “Start,” then right click on “Computer,” then left click on “Properties”). Go to the video card manufacturer’s site and download the latest drivers. Do not install it yet, but save it on the desktop. Instead, go into “Add/Remove Hardware” and uninstall the old video drivers. After this, install the new drivers and then restart your computer for them to take effect.

Step 3 - Overheating

One possible cause of problems with a laptop video card is an overheating laptop. Shut down the laptop and give it time to fully cool before restarting. If it runs fine after that, all well and good, but if the laptop video card problems recur after it’s been running a little while, you need to see about keeping the laptop cooler. This might entail replacing the fan, or you could trying putting it on a stand where the air can circulate more easily.

Step 4 - AGP Port

The AGP, or accelerated graphics port, can sometimes be unstable and cause video to hang and crash. You can try slowing the AGP port. If yours is running 8X, slow it to 4X. You should also try disabling fast writes to see if that brings greater stability to your laptop video card.

With an ATI video card, modify the multiplier with SMARTGART, which will also allow you to disable fast writes. For an NVIDIA laptop video card, there is other software available that will bring the same results. All too often, however, this can be cured by having the latest chipset drivers installed on your computer.

Step 5 - CPU And RAM

It’s possible that the problem with your laptop video card might actually be in the sound system if the problem occurs when playing games, since that’s when they’re under stress. Test the RAM by using software like MemTest86. You should only do this if you’re familiar with computers, as you need to create a bootable test disk. Also, there’s other software that can test your CPU to see if it has any faults.