Display driver stopped responding and has recovered

GFE, driver-related issues
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#4182 by NvidiaANZ
26-04-2016 20:43
We believe a lot of people have encountered this issue before and this post will be focused on the possible solutions.

The issue: "Display driver stopped responding and has recovered"

Actually this issue isn't bounded to any specific graphic card manufacturer, this started as a protection protocol that have been in Microsoft's operating system dating back to Windows Vista. The purpose of this protocol is to prevent your PC from rebooting when your GPU can't output video, which may be caused by unstable GPU or bugs.

So how can we fix this issue? As we mentioned above, this issue has been around for quite a while, the solution varies for each PC/person. After some googling, you'll find that some people update their graphics driver, some have a loose 6-pin power connector, some have a dying PSU, or even updating the motherboard's BIOS works in rare circumstances. The majority of people who encountered this issue rarely reports back to the forum/community after they have fixed it. The conclusion, there is no definite answer to the solution. You'll have to do some a/b testing to really figure out what your situation is.

Then what will cause your GPU to be unstable?

1. Temperature

If the cause is temperature, there won't be many signs beforehand. So you're just gaming as usual then suddenly either the game crashes or jumps out. In a high temperature environment, all of your PC components, including GPU, will have a hard time working with excessive heat hanging around. Imagine if you were to work in a high temperature environment with 100% workload. Simply impossible. In this kind of environment, it's easier for GPU's to meet their thermal limits. The temperatures you have to watch out for include both the room temperature and the system temperature. We can't really help with your room temperature but we can help you out on checking your system temperature.

First, check inside your case with your eyes. See if the whole case, case fans and the dust filters are too dusty. If yes, cleaning then up with compressed air will be a great idea. Other than that, if your system have been built for quite some time, consider getting some new thermal paste for your CPU/GPU (Do it at your own risk!). The difference might not be visual but it's still a factor you want to consider. If your case is clean then we can get to the next step, monitoring your system temperature. GPU-Z will be the best choice.

If errors show up when you're gaming, open up GPU-Z→sensors, tick "log to file" and "Continue refreshing this screen while GPU-Z is in the background". (The log files saves as a new file automatically. So every time you want a new log file or stop logging, please tick and untick it manually.)

You go and play the game that you encountered with error, play until the error shows up. Now, the log file will have the error messages in it. Go and check the log file.

By monitoring the temperature, fan rpm and GPU loading, you can see if your GPU is performing unreasonably, i.e. low fan rpm when GPU is in high load. Other options include using burn in software to monitor your system temperature, such as OCCT, Furmark, Unigine Heaven. Since you've already been monitoring your GPU, why not include CPU too? HWMonitor is a great tool to monitor both.

So what are the normal operating temperatures? Most of the electric components in your PC have a set of temperature range that they can work in. If the components' temperature goes under or over their operational temperature, it triggers their self-protection mechanism. They either stop their operation by crashing the software or they just wouldn't operate in full load. So if your CPU or GPU is running 60s⁰C-70s⁰C off-load and 90s⁰C-100s⁰C under load, something's not right. Check your cooling system immediately. Another factor that might cause your system to be unstable or run at a high temperature is overclocking.

2. Overclocking

A lot of graphics card OEM/manufacturers have developed their own overclocking software, like Asus' "GPU Tweak", EVGA's "Precision X" and MSI's "Afterburner" etc.

Normally, the overclocked version sold by manufacturers have already been tested and adjusted to a stable state but if the users overclocked it too hard, it might become unstable. Or maybe you're just unlucky, bought a GPU chip that doesn't overclock that well compared to peers. So if you encounter some errors when running either a stock overclocked or a self-overclocked GPU, please consider either lowering 10-20ish GPU frequency or lowering it to stock frequency and see if that helps. 

If you have the software above pre-installed and you don't plan on overclocking, consider uninstalling it too!

3. Graphics Driver 

You might ask, how the hell does a graphic driver cause errors and bugs? I've been constantly updating to the latest driver! That's exactly the problem. If your PC has been stable and you've been playing games fine and smooth, there is no need for you to constantly update your graphics driver. Unless you're playing a new game that requires game ready driver or a hotfix driver for a bug that you've encountered. If you're having issues with current drivers, using previous versions might be a good idea.

If your driver is installed by downloading it individually from GeForce's website and not from GeForce Experience then the old drivers will be stored at C:\NVIDIA\DisplayDriver. Please remember, whether you are going to install new version or previous version of the driver, please tick "Perform a clean install" when running the installer. Or another way is use DDU (Display Driver Uninstaller) before performing the install.

4. Unstable Power Source

If your power source is unstable, it causes your GPU to be unstable. When we talk about the power source, it's not only the PSU in your PC. It includes the socket, extension cord and your cable. If the socket you're using is connected to too many electronics, it may cause your PSU to be unstable. On another note, most electronic devices have their life span, if you have an old cable, PSU or extension cord, consider getting a new one might not only help you solve your power problems, it's also safer for you.

It's hard for most users to do an a/b testing on their power problems because rarely does one have spare PSUs or extension cords at home. So if you do decide to purchase a new PSU, please make sure that it exceeds the recommended system wattage and we recommend purchasing a PSU from reputable brands. Please go on Geforce.com for specific power requirements.

5. Memory

With the current x86 system architecture, most data still has to go through system memory aka RAM. If your system memory is unstable, it might be a cause to this problem too. If your memory sticks are still working, please take a look at your motherboard manual and place your memory sticks in the right slot. There are different ways of putting memory sticks, it depends on the number of sticks you have. Sometimes memory sticks get loose when you've moved or bumped your PC, pressing it down or reinstalling the sticks afterwards might help. Of course, there are testing software on the internet. The most common one is "Memtest86+". Let it run for a night if you want.

6. Keep Your System Clean

When we talk about system here, we include the hardware and software. How do you keep your software clean? Don't install unknown software or any potential malware, which includes cracks and hacks. Additionally, some malicious websites install malware to your PC in the background too! So keep a good web surfing habit of not clicking suspicious links.
Despite Windows updates are always annoying, it's still recommended to keep your PC updated.

7. Under Warranty/RMA

If you're card is still under warranty, did your best testing here and there and still have no luck of making it work, the best you can do now is send an RMA request to the manufacturer of your card. If the card they send back has no issue, then the case is closed.

Last but not least, nobody wants this to happen to themselves, the manufacturer too. If you have encountered this issue, please be patient in the process and hope for the best.

We will update this article regularly. Please feel free to share suggestions and experiences below as well.
#4183 by Nomming
26-04-2016 21:07
I had this issue regularly before I updated to Windows 10, I had a virus that really done a number on my pc and ruined every update program I had. Thankfully, the update fixed everything and I'm not having the issue anymore (even with a 6 year old graphics card XD shows how well built the Nvidia cards are)
#4185 by dannz0r
26-04-2016 21:15
I'm gonna pass this onto my friend, his computer has been randomly crashing when he's playing intensive games. He's suspicious his 970 is at fault and has been googling to see if he should get a replacement or for any other fix. Thanks for the guide
#4225 by pharohbender
27-04-2016 21:04
graphics driver +1
if the pc is running fine then no need to update but if you update and then all of a sudden you have this issue its most likely the driver, had this with kerbal space program and just uninstalled the bad driver and installed a previous driver until new ones came out and were more stable.
quite easy to pick up that issue.
heat ?  used to happen to my 560ti if it went over 80c kept the fans speeds up with msi afterburner fan curve and stopped it from reaching that temp and all was good in the world.

you should always keep the drivers updated..... no, not really depending on your scenario other older drivers can work better in some cases depending on the game. 
sometimes drivers actually miss something and all of a sudden your game looks worse on this driver than the last driver. 
iracing in particular  :shock:  but the newest drivers seem to be working good.  364.72
#12281 by techhit
26-10-2016 09:37
+1 to heat + unstable overclock.

I had this issue when I was pushing my GTX 1070 to the limit. On some games it'd never crash, and on others it would consistently crashed. I guess it depends on how hard the graphics card is being pushed and whether it's getting enough/too much voltage for its current workload or not. Once I dialed it back 50-100mhz, I haven't had the issue since.
#18006 by Mumtazmonaf
16-08-2017 20:46
Are you getting this error: display driver stopped responding and has recovered? If so then its your graphic drivers that need to be worked on. Unistall and reinstall the graphic drivers. Hopefully this will get rid of your problem. And if not then you might need to pdate your graphics drivers. Hope it helps you out.  https://appuals.com/fix-display-driver- ... recovered/