Possible video card issue?


Is it appropriate for me to ask a general, non WC specific tech support question in hope that some of you computer savvy folks may have an answer for me?

As I said previously, I have been trying to get all WC games functioning on my computer. I recently installed Standoff. As I was testing it, the computer seemed to freeze up. The screen went black and it crashed. I tried starting up the computer, and when it got to the point where I would log in (and where I believe the video card would kick in for resolution), the screen kicked off. It would start up in safety mode, which, if I am not mistaken, doesn't do the card-acceleration. I spent some time to let the video card cool off, and then I could start up the computer normally again.

Out of curiosity, I booted up another program that uses the video card, and it crashed similarly.

I ran a virus scan (using AVAST)... nothing. I ran a scan with Super Anti-Spypare. It also found nothing.

When I don't use the video card, it will run anything else. So I am guessing that my video card has gone bad. Does anyone with any real knowledge about computers have any idea if I am on the right track? If not, does anyone have any different thoughts to point me in the right direction?

My system is an HP Pavilion a1440n. It has 2.0GB ram, 250 BG hard drive, and I am running an EVGA Geforce 7600 GS (yes, it is a humble rig). The entire system is about 6 years old. I placed the 7600 to replace a 7300LE that it came with and it has been running fine all these years.
If you have an AGP system, you likely put an AGPx8 card in an AGPx4, My Compaq HP/Evo upgraded rig has thesame problem(I use that as primary system because of it's low power consumption(It's always on), low noise and neutral look. Try looking out for an older videocard, like a Geforce2GTS, or an older Radeon(9800 series or earlier). And in the mean time, play in Direct3d
Hmm... I don't think that is the case, but it may be my lack of technical knowledge. It is a PCIe card and I have been running the same rig for 6 years, including this same video card.
Did you change video cards on it? Because the specs of your system list a 7300LE, but there could be anything wrong from drivers to the power supply, you only have this in intense games?
Sorry, I can see that I wasn't clear.

I got the computer 6 years ago, and at that point in time I placed the 7600 in, replacing the 7300. I have been running this exact same rig all that time, and I have never had any trouble. No hardware has changed in all that time. No driver changes for some time. So, the state of my system when it had trouble was pretty much the same it has been for 6 years (barring updating my NVIDIA drivers a time or two per year over that time. However, I have not updated my drivers in about 3 months now, so it wasn't a recent driver change). No changes... it just seemed to conk out, for lack of a more technical term. Now, it blacks out if left on too long at all, even if it isn't running a 3D accelerated program, unless it is running in safe mode (which, if I am correct, doesn't utilize the card. My understanding is that otherwise the card is always in use to some degree, even if it isn't rendering 3D graphics).
To me it sounds like the card is dead, or the fan on the card... It's also possible that your CPU or ram has fried but it's more likely the GPU. If you can borrow and old video card from somebody even if it's not one you want to keep, swapping it out will tell you for sure if that's the problem.

Keep in mind that you should uninstall your previous video drivers when you do this.
Maybe there's lots of dust that has been collected over the years, which now causes the graphics card to overheat. Open up your PC, clean out the dust... starting your system for the first time after that, leave the case open to see if than fan on the graphics card is running.
Another possiblity for you is a PSU issue, although from the symptoms you're describing I'm more inclined to lean towards failure of the card. Six years isn't really a bad run for a card.
I'd say its time to buy a new card with low power requirements. your psu is aging after all. i remember years ago my roommate had a 7600 gs (might have been a gt) and it died. and he put the same model of card in and it died two years later. see whats on newegg and check out the tom's hardware best graphics card of the month performance chart. anything you get will probably be cpu limited. so only buy something that cost about 60 dollars or less.
If you do get a new card then I suggest that you get another Nvidia one. There's nothing wrong with ATI/AMD cards but some of the newer ones support PCI Express 2.1 rather than 2.0 which Nvidia cards use. The reason that this is relevent is that given the age of your PC it probably supports PCI Express 1.0a or 1.1, which PCIe 2.0 cards are fully backwards compatible with but 2.1 cards can find problematic. If you choose to go the AMD route just make sure the card is a 2.0 version.