There is nothing more annoying than playing your favorite game only to be greeted by visual artifacts. They can be caused by a variety of things, with the most common being GPU overheating, driver issues, or bad VRAM.
If you are facing GPU artifacting issues, you are at the right place. In this article, I will talk about what GPU artifacts are, what causes them and how you can fix them.
What is GPU artifacting?
GPU artifacts are visual anomalies that appear on your screen while gaming or using applications, and they can take the form of static, flickering, or distorted images.
This happens because the graphics card cannot process the data correctly, and the result is an image that is either corrupted or missing pixels.
As I already mentioned, this can happen for a few reasons that I will discuss below.
Causes of GPU Artifacting
While many causes can trigger GPU artifacts, the most common one is GPU overheating. If your graphics card gets too hot, it will start to throttle the clock speeds to prevent damage.
This will cause the data being processed by the graphics card to be corrupted, and you will start seeing artifacts on your screen.
Many reasons can cause your graphics card to overheat, like overclocking, dust buildup, and bad thermal paste.
If you want to know more about the average temperatures of GPUs while gaming and the reasons that can cause them to overheat, check out this article.
2. Bad Drivers
Another common cause is outdated or faulty drivers. If your drivers are not up to date, or if they are corrupt, it can cause the graphics card to malfunction and result in artifacts.
Drivers are essential for the smooth functioning of your graphics card, and you should always make sure that they are up to date.
What drivers do is that they act as a bridge between the hardware and the software. They take the data from the software and translate it into a language the hardware can understand.
If there are any issues with the drivers, it can lead to communication breakdown and result in graphics card artifacts.
Overclocking is a widespread practice among PC gamers as it can help boost the performance of your games. However, if not done correctly, it can lead to GPU artifacts.
This is because when you overclock your graphics card, you are pushing it beyond its limits, which can cause the data being processed by the GPU to be corrupted.
I generally advise against overclocking your GPU unless you know what you are doing.
With all the software out there, it has become very easy to overclock your graphics card, and many gamers that don’t know what they are doing end up causing permanent damage to their cards.
Before you go and overclock your GPU, you should do your research and make sure that you know what you are doing.
4. VRAM Issues
This is the most complex cause and also the hardest to diagnose. VRAM is the type of memory used by graphics cards and is crucial for the performance of your games
In simple words, this means that your VRAM is responsible for storing the data, and if it is not functioning properly, it can corrupt these data, and you will start seeing artifacts.
And while I said that VRAM issues are hard to diagnose, there is a trick that you can use, and it has to do with the shapes of the artifacts. If the VRAM is the culprit, you won’t see huge shapes or a totally distorted image. Instead, you will see slight color changes or small dots that flicker on your screen.
Related Article: 16GB vs. 32GB RAM: How Much Do You Really Need?
5. GPU Physical Damage
If your graphics card is physically damaged, it can also cause artifacts. This could be due to a physical impact or wear and tear.
GPUs, like all other PC components, have a limited lifespan, and after a certain point, they will start to fail. This is especially true if you have been playing games at high settings.
6. Inadequate Power Supply to GPU
Another reason you might get GPU artifacting is if your power supply is not providing enough power to the graphics card.
This can happen for two reasons: your PSU is either not powerful enough or not working properly.
As you probably know, most high-end graphics cards need a PCIe power connector from the power supply to function properly.
If this connector is not providing enough power, it can cause the graphics card to artifact.
Before buying a GPU, you should always know your system’s needs and ensure that your power supply can handle them.
7. Not Powerful GPU
What I mean when I say not powerful GPU is that your graphics card is not powerful enough to handle the game you are playing with your chosen settings.
For example, if you are playing a demanding game like Witcher 3 at ultra settings and your GPU is not powerful enough, you might start seeing artifacts.
This is because the GPU cannot process all the data, and it ends up corrupting it, resulting in artifacts.
Related Article: Is 75hz Good For Gaming?
How to Fix GPU Artifacting?
Now that we know what causes GPU artifacts, it’s time to look at how to fix them.
1. Update Your Graphics Card Drivers
I start with this solution because it is the easiest one and might just fix your problem.
If you are using an Nvidia GPU, you should download and install the Nvidia experience.
Nvidia experience is a program that automatically downloads and installs the latest drivers for your GPU.
If you use an AMD GPU, you can download and install the AMD Radeon Software, aka Adrenaline.
If it was a driver problem, you would stop seeing artifacts once you update your drivers.
Related Article: 100% GPU Usage: Should I Worry?
2. Check Your GPU Temperature When Seeing GPU Artifacting
As I told you, overheating is the most common reason for GPU artifacting.
So the first thing you should do when you start seeing artifacts is to check the temperature of your GPU.
You can use a program like MSI Afterburner or any other GPU monitoring tool to check the temperature of your GPU in real time.
To do that, you should simply download and install MSI Afterburner or any other program you want to use.
Once you have installed it, launch the program, go to the monitoring tab, and then tick the GPU temperature to the monitoring window.
Make sure you have also ticked the “Show in On-Screen Display” option. This will display the GPU temperature in the left corner of your screen.
Now start playing a game or doing anything that makes your GPU artifact, and check the temperature. If it gets too high (above 80C to 85C) and you start seeing artifacts after a while, then you know that overheating is the issue. You can check this post to learn more about average GPU temperatures while gaming.
If you remember, I told you that overheating can be caused by many things. So let’s see what you should do in each case.
Related Article: What Is A Good Idle GPU Temp? [Solved]
2. Overclocked GPU
If you have recently overclocked your GPU and started seeing artifacts, then the first thing you should do is reset the clock speed back to default.
The most common reason for failed overclocking is because of an inadequate cooling system.
So if you have overclocked your GPU and don’t have a proper cooling system, there is a big chance that you will start seeing artifacts.
To downclock your GPU, you can use MSI Afterburner or any other program you have used to overclock it. Look at the core speeds and simply lower them back to stock speed to keep your system cool.
3. Dusty GPU
If you have a desktop computer, then it’s very likely that your graphics card is dusty. Over time, the dust will accumulate inside your computer and start blocking the airflow.
This will make your components run hotter because they are not getting enough air to cool down.
To clean your graphics card, you should turn off your computer and unplug it from the power outlet.
Then open the case and take a look at your GPU. If it’s dusty, then use a can of compressed air to clean it.
4. Faulty GPU Cooler
A self-evident reason for overheating can be a faulty GPU cooler. If your GPU cooler is not working properly, then it’s very likely that your GPU will overheat and cause GPU artifacting.
To check if your GPU cooler is working properly, you should first clean it, as I showed you in the previous point.
Then open your case and take a look at the GPU cooler. If it’s spinning when the GPU is under pressure, then it’s most likely working fine.
But if it’s not spinning or spinning very slowly, then there is a big chance that it’s faulty, and you will need to replace it.
MSI afterburner gives you the option to customize the fan speed of your GPU. So you can use it to make sure that your GPU cooler is working properly.
Simply go to settings and click on the fan tab to do that. Make sure you have ticked the “Enable user-defined software automatic fan control” option.
Then set the ” Fan speed (%)” to 100%. This will make the fan spin at maximum speed and cool down your GPU. If, after doing that, your GPU cools down, then your GPU cooler is most likely working fine.
5. Poor Ventilation Inside The Case
If you don’t have proper ventilation inside your case, then there is a big chance that your GPU will start artifacting.
The reason for this is simple; if there is not enough airflow inside your case, the components will start overheating because they are not getting enough air to cool down.
To solve this problem, you should clean your computer and ensure no dust is blocking the airflow. Then check if there are any cables blocking the airflow and if there are, move them. Finally, you can also add more cooling fans to your computer to improve the airflow.
Related Article: How To Connect Extra Fans To Motherboard
6. Not A Powerful GPU
If you are playing a very demanding game and your GPU is not powerful enough to run it, you will start seeing artifacts.
This is because your GPU will start overheating as it will try to render the game at a higher FPS than it can handle.
To check if this is the case, you should lower the settings of the game until the artifacts disappear. If they do, you will need to either upgrade your GPU or play the game at lower settings.
What to do if my GPU is artifacting, but the temperature is not that high?
If your GPU is artifacting, but the temperature is not that high, then it’s most likely because of a faulty graphics card or VRAM.
Unfortunately, you cannot do much in this situation, and you will most likely need to get a new graphics card.
If you have a warranty, you should contact the company you bought it from and see if they can replace it.
Related Article: Can You Sli Two Different GPUs?
GPU Artifacting FAQ
Can You Fix GPU Artifacting?
Yes, in most cases, you can fix GPU artifacting by following the steps I listed in this article.
If you can’t fix it or the artifacts are too severe, you will most likely need to get a new graphics card.
What Causes GPU Artifacting?
There are many things that can cause GPU artifacting, the most common being overheating. This is because when your GPU overheats, the data starts getting corrupted, and you start seeing artifacts.
Other common causes of GPU artifacting include a bad power supply unit, incorrect BIOS settings, and a faulty graphics card.
How Long Does A GPU Last?
A GPU will last somewhere between 5-8 years. However, this is just an estimate, and it can last longer or shorter depending on how you use it and how well you take care of it.
Can Overclocking GPU cause artifacts?
Yes, GPU overclocking is one of the most common causes of artifacts. This is because when you overclock your GPU, you are pushing it beyond its limits, which can cause it to overheat and start artifacting.
Does Artifacting Mean My GPU Is Dying?
No, artifacting doesn’t necessarily mean that your GPU is dying. In most cases, it’s just a sign that your GPU is overheating and needs to be cooled down.
However, if the artifacts are severe, or you can’t fix them, then it’s possible that your GPU is dying, and you will need to get a new one.
This is everything I know about GPU artifacting. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask me in the comment section below, and I will be more than happy to help you.
If this article was helpful to you, then please share it with your friends so they can also learn what GPU artifacting is and how to fix it.
Thank you for reading!
Nick Ryley is a computer architect and the owner of The Pc Geekz.
His love for playing games got him interested in computers in the first place. He wanted to be able to build a gaming PC that could run all the latest games at max settings, and this has him pursuing a major in computer architecture!
He started this blog to help people out and answer some of the most common questions about computer building