It isn’t always easy to see how a GPU performs by looking at it with the naked eye. Lots of little things act as clues to indicate whether a graphics card is performing as it should be. Its performance and temperatures are two good ways to determine whether it’s as healthy as you would prefer.
Are There Tests to See How a GPU Is Working
Yes, there are tests you can run with your GPU to see whether it performs as expected. These tests put the entire card under stress by making it do various jobs and then reporting back to you how it’s performing and how it compares to other similar GPUs, depending on which program you use. However, these tests will only tell you how the card is doing and not whether it’s healthy.
What Is the Point of Checking GPU Health
Understanding how healthy your GPU is can help you decide whether you want to purchase a new one or keep your old one working for a while. You can get an idea of whether it’s going to keep working or if you can expect it to die relatively soon. This is especially valuable because you can determine whether you have more time to save and select a new card.
It’s also an essential skill for those who want to purchase a used graphics card. Knowing how to check whether it’s opening correctly and stable will help you know whether it’s worth the purchase. You should never purchase a graphics card without the opportunity to test it first.
What Is a Healthy GPU?
A healthy GPU should meet several different requirements. You don’t only want it to run well and do its job, but you also want to keep it in great shape, so it works for a long time.
You want the GPU to be free of any physical defects. Consider the fans, cables, and heatsink when examining it to see if anything is warped or damaged. Thermal paste or pads should be in good condition or replaced to help the GPU remove heat more effectively.
The GPU should perform up to its expected standard. Of course, a GTX 690 won’t perform as well as a GTX 3090 in the same games — but both should act as you’d expect from a card of that model. You can look up tests to better understand what your GPU can do.
The GPU shouldn’t be overheating or riding the line of nearly too much heat. When a GPU is old or damaged, an early warning sign is getting hotter than it should when using specific programs. Having a good baseline for how hot your GPU usually gets can help you detect issues as soon as they arrive.
Each of these components is important when determining GPU health. Once you’ve run a few stress tests to ensure it works, you should double back and check each of these concerns to ensure your GPU is up to spec.
How to Test GPU Health With Benchmark Testing
One great way to see how a GPU performs is with benchmark testing. Many programs will test the other components in your computer, like the CPU and RAM.
One of the most complex parts is finding a benchmark program that will work for you. If you aren’t using them often, you probably don’t need to pay for a premium program. Look for free programs and free trials. That way, you can run multiple programs and test to see how well the GPU works in each of them.
Choose a benchmark program to use. There are plenty of programs to choose from, and most will work as well as others. Check out companies like Passmark, 3DMark, and Basemark.
Install the program. You want to install it on the computer you’ll be testing.
Follow the instructions to run the program.
Look at the readout. The tests should tell you what percentage your GPU is in, how it compares to other GPUs, and how your computer performs similar to computers with the same components.
Remember, these tests only work if your GPU is active and functional. If you have integrated graphics, switch the GPU you want to benchmark to active.
If your computer and GPU perform similar to those with similar setups, you can determine whether it’s working as it should. This is one of the best GPU health tests you can perform because performance is what matters when it comes to a graphics card.
How to Check a GPU for Physical Defects
Another way to see whether your GPU is working is to examine it for physical defects. The cables should be in good working order. If they’re frayed or burned, they might create issues for the card. If any of the visible pieces of the card are warped, that could make it run less efficiently and stop it from maintaining the heat or power correctly.
One of the most important things to look for is whether the fans are working correctly. If they can’t spin freely, they aren’t cooling the card the way you need them to. Keeping the temperature of your card stable is one of the best ways to maintain its health over the long term.
How to Monitor the Temperature of Your GPU
Monitoring the temperature of your GPU is an intelligent way to ensure you catch problems before they start. Each card manufacturer should have a program that lets you monitor GPU temperatures; there are also third-party programs you can download.
Run the temperature monitors when you do the benchmarking and stress tests. However, you also want to keep them up when you’re doing basic computing,
What if My GPU Doesn’t Pass the Tests?
There are two considerations if your GPU doesn’t pass the test. First, ask yourself which component of the test it failed. Next, determine whether that is a problem that you can fix.
If the card has a physical flaw, like a warped heatsink or frayed cable, check whether you can replace that part. Fans can be swapped, and thermal paste reapplied if needed.
If the card isn’t performing up to your expected standards, remember that not every test is best for every card. Try a few testing services to see how it performs across multiple. Next, decide whether it will still work for your uses. You don’t necessarily need the full power of a graphics card that’s brand new if you’re only doing everyday computing – but you might if you’re playing more recent games on graphics.
If the card is heating up too much, try lowering your graphics settings, cleaning the card, increasing the airflow in your case, or adding an AIO cooler to the GPU. These can help reduce the card’s temperature by providing more cooling than a standard cooling setup with the fans attached to the card.
Of course, if your card is under warranty, contact the company before troubleshooting on your own. Messing with your GPU could void the warranty, and it’s better to go to the company that made it if they’re still obligated to help you.
If you can’t fix your graphics card’s issue, it might be time to seek professional help or even start shopping for a new GPU. Unfortunately, graphics cards rarely fix themselves. Many home remedies — like putting it in the oven — are dicey at best and shouldn’t be attempted unless you don’t mind ruining your card altogether.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Know if My GPU Is Dying?
You might notice it making weird sounds as it performs as if the fans are cranking or groaning. It might have trouble displaying graphics at its average level, leading to a performance loss in games. The temperatures will often start going higher too. Your computer shutting down unexpectedly or games shutting down is another way you might notice your GPU beginning to die.
What Is the Lifespan of a GPU?
You can expect a GPU to function for years. Some last longer than a decade with gentle use. The lifespan is more likely to be an issue in cards that have been used hard or run hot. Usually, cards won’t work as well on newer programs long before they just shut down and die.
What Kills a GPU?
Hard use is the thing most likely to kill a GPU. If you overclock it, the extra voltage can also contribute to it dying sooner than later. If you want to overclock your GPU, only do it as much as you need to. It’s also important to pay attention to temperature because even a GPU used carefully can break with too much heat.