GPU Artifacting Examples, How to Test, and Fixes

Published by Nyau Wai Hoe - Updated on

GPU artifacting refers to visual distortions or anomalies that appear on your screen due to issues with the graphics processing unit (GPU). These artifacts can manifest in various forms, such as flickering, strange lines, color shifts, or patterns that are out of place. These visual glitches are not just bothersome but can also indicate underlying problems with your GPU or system. For gamers, streamers, and graphics professionals, GPU artifacting can be particularly disruptive. It’s crucial to understand the common examples of GPU artifacting, methods to test for it, and potential fixes to resolve your GPU issues.

Also see: How to Tell If It’s Your Monitor or GPU That Is Dying

GPU Artifacting Examples, How to Test, and Fixes

Examples of GPU Artifacting

GPU artifacting can take various forms, depending on the cause and severity of the issue. Here are some common examples observed by users on different forums:

Flickering or flashing

One common artifacting issue is the appearance of flickering or flashing on the screen, which can include black or white squares or dots. These artifacts typically manifest as brief, intermittent disruptions in the display and may indicate problems with the GPU’s display output. The presence of these squares or dots, in particular, can suggest issues with the GPU’s memory or overheating components, as they disrupt the normal rendering process of images and textures.

GPU Artifacting examples Flickering flashing of squares or dots

Pixelation and distortion

In this scenario, parts of the image may appear blocky, pixelated, or distorted. This can include irregularities in textures, shadows, or overall image quality, suggesting problems with the GPU’s processing capabilities or memory errors.

Examples of GPU Artifacting Pixelation and distortion

Color shifts

Unexpected changes in color on the screen, such as portions displaying incorrect hues, can be indicative of artifacting. This might be due to issues with the GPU’s color rendering processes or damage to the card itself.

GPU Artifacting example color shifts part of the screen

Strange lines or patterns

Unusual lines or geometric patterns that do not align with the intended graphics can be a sign of artifacting. These can range from thin, erratic lines to more pronounced, out-of-place geometric shapes, often pointing to computational errors within the GPU.

GPU Artifacting Strange lines and patterns

Screen stuttering

This involves the image momentarily freezing or jumping. Screen stuttering can disrupt the flow of video or gameplay, and it may be caused by the GPU struggling with rendering tasks or experiencing communication issues with other system components.

GPU Artifacting Examples Screen Stuttering Lag

It’s important to note that these artifacts can vary in frequency and intensity, sometimes occurring sporadically or under specific conditions, such as during high-performance tasks or when the GPU is under heavy load.

Pro tip: Force App or Game to Use Nvidia GPU or Integrated Graphics

How to test for GPU Artifacting

Testing for GPU artifacting involves a series of steps to determine if the visual irregularities you’re experiencing are indeed due to your graphics card. Here are some methods, based on forum discussions and expert advice, to help you test for GPU artifacting:

Benchmarking and stress testing

Use GPU benchmarking and stress testing tools like MSI Kombustor or 3DMark. These tools push your GPU to its performance limits, making it easier to identify any artifacting that occurs under heavy load. Running these tests can reveal issues that might not be apparent during normal usage.

Stress test benchmarking GPU

Monitoring GPU temperatures

Keep an eye on the temperature of your GPU using monitoring software like HWMonitor or GPU-Z. High temperatures are a frequent cause of artifacting. If your GPU is running hotter than usual, it might be struggling and causing visual issues.

Dying GPU overheat temperature

Linked issue: High GPU Usage While Watching YouTube Videos

Checking for driver issues

Ensure that your graphics drivers are up to date. If the artifacting started after a recent update, consider rolling back to a previous driver version. Driver compatibility can significantly affect GPU performance and may lead to artifacting.

Trying different games and applications

Test your GPU with a variety of games and applications. Artifacting that occurs only in specific software may indicate compatibility issues or particular stressors that trigger the problem.

Suggested read: GPU 100% Usage When Idle or Gaming (Good or Bad)

Testing with different displays and cables

Sometimes, the cause of artifacting lies not in the GPU but in the display or the connecting cables. Try connecting your system to a different monitor or using a different cable to see if the issue persists.

DisplayPort 1.4 Cable

Observing artifacting patterns

Take note of the types of artifacts you’re seeing and their occurrence patterns. Regular or consistent artifacting, especially during the system’s boot-up or in the BIOS screen, can be indicative of a hardware problem with the GPU.

These testing methods are meant to help you isolate the cause of the artifacting. It’s important to approach this systematically, as the source of the problem could range from software issues to hardware malfunctions.

How to fix GPU artifacting issues

Once you’ve identified GPU artifacting, there are several steps you can take to try and resolve the issue. These solutions are based on common recommendations from various tech forums and expert advice:

Update or reinstall GPU drivers

A common solution is to update your GPU drivers. Outdated or corrupt drivers are often at the heart of artifacting issues. If the problem began after a recent driver update, consider rolling back to a previous version.

Update graphics driver Nvidia

Improve cooling

Overheating can lead to artifacting. Ensure your GPU’s cooling system is functioning properly, which includes checking for dust build-up, verifying fan operation, and improving airflow in your PC case. In some cases, adding additional cooling or improving case ventilation can significantly help.

Improve cooling in PC GPU and CPU

Stop overclocking the GPU

If you’ve overclocked your GPU, this might be the cause of the artifacting. Reducing the clock speed (underclocking) can decrease heat and stress on the card, potentially resolving the issue.

Underclock GPU

Inspect for physical damage

Check your GPU for any signs of physical damage, like burnt components or damaged capacitors. Such damage can lead to artifacting and might necessitate professional repair or a replacement.

Test the GPU in another system

To isolate the problem, try using the GPU in a different computer system. This will help determine if the issue is specific to the GPU or related to the original system’s setup.

Change the thermal paste

Over time, thermal paste can dry out, reducing its effectiveness. Reapplying high-quality thermal paste can improve the heat transfer and might solve the artifacting problem. This task is a bit technical, so if you’re not confident in doing it yourself, seeking professional help is advisable.

GPU Thermal Paste

Replace the graphics card

In cases where the artifacting is due to VRAM issues, replacing the entire graphics card might be necessary, as VRAM itself is typically not replaceable.

These solutions address various potential causes of GPU artifacting, from software issues to hardware malfunctions. It’s important to approach these fixes methodically and carefully, especially when dealing with hardware components.

Summing up

GPU artifacting is a common issue that can arise due to various factors, ranging from software glitches to hardware malfunctions. By understanding the examples of artifacting, methods to test for it, and potential fixes, you can effectively diagnose and address this issue. Here’s a straightforward wrap-up:

  • Recognize the types of artifacts, whether it’s flickering, pixelation, color shifts, strange patterns, or stuttering. Each type can hint at different underlying causes.
  • Use benchmarking tools, monitor GPU temperatures, test across different software, check for driver issues, and experiment with different displays and cables to comprehensively assess the problem.
  • Start with updating or reinstalling GPU drivers, as this is often the simplest solution. If overheating is suspected, improve your system’s cooling. Underclocking the GPU can also help, especially if the artifacting occurs after overclocking.
  • After identifying the type of artifacts, consider posting a photo of the issue on forums such as Reddit. The community can often provide helpful advice and insights based on your specific situation.
  • If software fixes don’t resolve the issue, inspect the GPU for physical damage and contemplate replacing the VRAM or the entire GPU if necessary. Remember, handling hardware components requires care and, in some cases, technical expertise.

Most of these steps are DIY-friendly, but if you’re not comfortable, especially with hardware changes, it’s wise to get professional help.


Nyau Wai Hoe
Nyau Wai Hoe is the Founder and Chief Editor of WindowsDigitals.com. With a degree in software engineering and over 12 years of experience in the tech support industry, Nyau has established himself as an expert in the field, with a primary focus on the Microsoft Windows operating system. As a tech enthusiast, he loves exploring new technologies and leveraging them to solve real-life problems.

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