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I'm currently experiencing some problems with my PC which prevent me from using my games (I'm trying with Steam games and none of them works as it should).

When I play, after a while, the textures in the game begin to "flicker", some artifacts appear on the screen (like wild triangles) really really fast, the textures on the walls for example disappear and appear back very quickly, and then suddenly the game crashes, with the graphics stuck on the same frame and the audio playing the same 1/10 sec over and over.

When this occurs, I hit Ctrl-Alt-Del which summons that blue screen, and just press "Cancel" which takes me back to the Desktop. The game is minimized, I maximize it and it works again. So I don't have to kill the game, but it's boring.

It occurs for Portal, Portal 2 and HL² (for HL², it has never really crashed, but the textures do the same. I guess it would eventually crash if I played long enough).

Sometimes I can play 20 minutes without any problem, and sometimes it occurs every 10 seconds or so.

Sometimes I could see an information tip at the bottom of the screen in Windows after hitting Ctrl-Alt-Del, which mentionned a graphic bug that had been fixed. My GC is a GTX 285 with the latest drivers from nVidia website.

I thought it could be a RAM problem so I performed a memtest, but after one pass no error had been found.

Any idea that could help ? Thank you

edit :

Thank you for your answers so far. I would like to add that other games don't crash, so it might be because of some special call by the Source engine... which would imply an incompatibility with the driver I'm using. But this would be strange, since my video card is pretty mainstream and the driver I'm using is from the official website.

SpeedFan says :

GPU : 52 C and there is a little "flame" icon. Up to 64 when playing. I think it's a pretty normal temperature.

I tried playing with the fan on maximum power, but it doesn't change anything. I also installed all the last drivers for my motherboard from Gigabyte website (Intel, SATA and audio).

I'm opening the beast now, to clean the fans and test with one less RAM stick :/

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Sort of sounds like your GPU is getting overheated, though it could be a multitude of other problems. I would suggest you attempt to clean out whatever dust has (inevitably) formed inside your computer case or maybe buy a better GPU fan. Though, again, it could be a lot of other things... –  Ragnar Apr 19 '11 at 10:23
    
@Ragnar - This always happened to me when my laptop got too hot. –  Sadly Not Apr 19 '11 at 17:28
    
@Sadly Not - See, that's what happens if you attempt to play games on your laptop inside a volcano. :P –  Ragnar Apr 20 '11 at 6:13
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3 Answers

I've had an issue similar to this before, and mine turned out to be a RAM issue despite passing every memory scan/test. I finally decided to buy 2 new sticks to use and have not had it since. A good way to check to see if it is a ram issue is to remove 1 stick of RAM at a time (assuming you have more than 1) and see if that improves stability.

When this occurs, I hit Ctrl-Alt-Del which summons that blue screen, and just press "Cancel" which takes me back to the Desktop. The game is minimized, I maximize it and it works again. So I don't have to kill the game, but it's boring.

After reading this part, it makes me think its probably not a ram issue then, since those typically causes the entire computer to crash. This definitely sounds more like a graphics driver issue (or possibly video card overheating).

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My girlfriend had a similar problem which only appeared during games - and it turned out that it was a faulty RAM, so your answer might indeed by relevant. –  Oak Apr 19 '11 at 13:57
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You might want to check your other drivers as well. I had a similar problem but I updated my SATA drivers and that fixed the problem.

You also used Steam to verify the local cache in the properties window of the game. You may also want to try re-installing both games.

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This seriously sounds like a GPU overheating issue. Install EVGA Precision and force your video card to have 100% fan while you play. If the problem goes away you know its definitely overheating and you should try to set some override settings for the automatic fan speed in EVGA Precision and keep it running at all times. I've run into many video card manufacturers over the years who set the fan settings far too low on their video cards.

And yes, even if you don't have an EVGA brand card, EVGA Precision will work for you, as long as you have an Nvidia chipset.

As a side note, you should also get something like SpeedFan to at least monitor all of the temperature sensors in your computer. Heat can be a computer's worst enemy and its also bad for your power bill too!

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