Late last week my Windows 7 (64-bit) computer started experiencing random freezes with the screen getting pixelated just before locking up. I would have to do a manual restart, to get the computer up and running. It started happening just a day after installing Internet Explorer 9.0 (Release Candidate), so initially I thought it was an issue with IE9 and went ahead and uninstalled it. Well that didn't solve the problem...
The random computer freezes started getting worse over the next couple days and was getting really worried that my hard-drive was going bad, but I also thought it might be bad memory, or the motherboard going. To be honest, I really wasn't sure what was happening, since the Dell XPS 8100 computer that this was happening on is less than a year old, and to my knowledge did not have any viruses or malware on the computer. Also the computer would be running just fine until the abrupt and sudden pixelated windows crashes. Each time the computer randomly froze up, the screen would get pixelated with different pixel formations. One thing I did notice, is that the computer crashes/lock ups would happen after the computer had been on longer and more frequently. For instance, if I continued to shut the computer down and start it up again, the computer would freeze up in less time.
Since I thought it might be bad memory or a hard drive issue, I first did the following:
- Checked the hard disk for errors. See: Perform Hard Disk Error-Checking.
- Tested my computers memory (RAM) by running Windows Memory Diagnostic. To do this in Windows 7, click Start -> in Search box type: Windows Memory Diagnostic -> then run the Windows Memory Diagnostic...
- Scanned my computer for viruses using Microsoft Security Essentials.
Well after running these checks, I did not have any noticable errors show up. However, I still had not determined if the video card was causing the problem.
Well to make a long story short, the Nvidia GeFeforce 8800 GT video card that was in my computer was causing the problem. It was going bad (possibly overheating) and causing the screen to pixelate, just before freezing up the computer.
Turns out after swapping out the Nvidia GeFeforce 8800 GT video card with an ATI Radeon HD 4350 video card, the computer was completely back to normal (haven't had any pixelated issues or computer lock ups since). I've also re-installed Internet Explorer 9.0 and it's running great.
I probably should have suspected that the video card was causing the problem, because when I first got my Dell XPS 8100, I actually swapped out the ATI Radeon HD 4350 video card that came with the computer, for a GeFeforce 8800 GT card, because the Geforce card had dual DVI inputs (to setup dual monitors), and I didn't think that I could set up dual monitors with the ATI Radeon HD 4350 card. Well, it turns out that you actually can setup dual monitors with ATI Radeon card after all using the DVI port and the HDMI port. Also when I installed the GeForce 8800 GT video card, I had to hook up a PCI-E (6 pin) power connector to the video card from the motherboard power supply, in order for the card to work (at the time, the computer was beeping at me, without the power cable hooked up to the GeForce video card).
So at least in my case, the cause of the pixelated random and sudden computer freezes was due to a video graphics card that was starting to go bad. To be honest, this turned out to be a best case scenerio for me, as I really did not want to have to spend hours on the phone dealing with Dell Customer Support for such a random issue like this.
If you're experiencing the same type of random pixelated screen freeze up issues as I was, hopefully this article will help you out and you'll experience the same "luck" as I did, without a much bigger computer issue to deal with. Good luck!