How to Fix Computer Freezes Randomly with Pixelated Screen in Windows 7

Why is my computer screen suddenly pixelating and windows crashing?
by Updated January 14, 2012

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:

  1. Checked the hard disk for errors.  See: Perform Hard Disk Error-Checking.
  2. 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...
  3. 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!






anonymous by Michael on 7/13/2011
Thank you so much! it turns out I have the exact same graphics card. I suspected the same.
anonymous by anon on 7/31/2011
anyone who reads this in the future: before you throw away the card or replace it, TRY THIS: put it in the oven after removing the fan/heat sink at 200 Fahrenheit for 20 min, and then letting it cool

i know a lot of guys personally who this has fixed their problem COMPLETELY. look it up on youtube if you don't believe me
anonymous by F4ll0ut on 11/26/2011
Hey, i have a GeForce 8600m GS (its a notebook, ASUS a7SV) and now its getting like about 4 - 5 years old.
I am having the problem ever since i installed Saints Row 3. After playing it for 15 minutes fullscreen on lowest graphics, i got the pixelated screen (i already played for 4 hours the days before on window mode). Thats been from wednesday, and now were saturday that i had the pixelated screen. And since i started up for the 4th or 5th time, (its on now for 10 min) i didn't have it yet. So i think its just a matter of time to let the graphic card run normal again. Every time it took like 20 - 30 minutes till it was normal again. If u have the same problem as i do, just reboot ur computer and let it do NOTHING and wait for aprox 20 minutes to 30 minutes. I recommend letting it there for 1 hour. Everything should be fixed then!
anonymous by fuck invidia on 1/26/2012
I have NVidia... 3 of their cards have burnt... 8400GS 8800GT and 9800GTX.... THey should check what's wrong with their products..
anonymous by Steve on 3/17/2012
Thank you a gazillion times!! I have tried everything I could think of, even installed Ubuntu to help decide hardware/software. After searching endlessly I decided to look at images associated with the keywords. And there was your image .. identical to my screen. So I read your article and Yup .. same nvidia video card.
Doug by Doug on 3/17/2012
Awesome Steve! Glad you found the article and it helped you diagnose the problem. It appears like these NVidia GeForce video cards have a serious overheating problem.
anonymous by MaG on 6/6/2012
Thank you it will save me money maybe
anonymous by BarboU on 6/9/2012
Thank you! I've got the same problem caused by gpu overheating and original cooler inefficiency. After my vga cooler replacement with a brand new Akasa Vortexx Neo cooler on the GeForce 8800GT the temp went down from 74C to 47C and now it works like a charm.
anonymous by PetterITredje on 6/15/2012
Thank you!!!!! This helped alot :)
anonymous by thoko on 7/19/2012
i really love this website ,its really helpful to computer students like me thank you for your contribution
anonymous by kaztuz on 10/4/2012
I have the ATI Radon 3450 card installed in my dell pc and from day 2 of having the computer I have had this pixellation and freezing issue. After spending god knows how much money on Dells 3 yr warranty at home service I am told that because it is software they won't do anything but speak to me over the phone which was a waste of time, with someone in India reading off an instruction manual. Needless to say I have suffered this problem for 3 yrs and now out of the warranty. I have a techy friend who has not been able to fix this issue. HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!
anonymous by Josh on 4/26/2013
Well.. Like you mentioned I have the same operating system an same video card with the same problem time to get a new video card, it's weird I never had this problem with vista .
I found 2 faults in the registery causing the problem. I downloaded Norton's mal-ware removel tool, restarted in safe mode with networking, ran the program. It found it and took it out. I think it's ransom-ware. I had some clowns overseas that wanted to charge me $299 to fix it. I did it myself. I understand running mrt.exe from microsoft might work too but I didn't try that. Believe me, everyone knows more about computers than I do but I was able to fix it..No more pixilated crashes.
anonymous by Logan DeHaven on 11/6/2022

I have the AMD radeon 7850 Crimson edition and i am recently starting to have these problems.

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