So, my current "day to day" PC, ie the one that I use the most for everything is a Dell XPS 15, L502x, roughly...three years old I want to say? It has an i7 with a 540M in it. Now, when I got it everything was awesome, you know, finally a laptop that I can really play (most) games on. Didn't come close to my desktop at the time, but that's to be expected.
Around late November/earll December, I kept having weird freezes and crahses on Modern Warfare 3. At first it was a "meh, ill quit playing on my laptop, cause IW sucks at PC games anyway" but then it slowly spread to other games, to the CryEngine 3 SDK and UDK (at one time I was a dev for alterFPS but that's another story entirely), and it just seemed to be getting worse. Now, most games were fine, but the few that triggered the crashes were litterally unexplainable, unreproducable, and seemingly for no reason whatsoever, and with each crash things got worse.
The first time, it was a simple video freeze. Audio kept playing, but video was frozen. Eh, no big deal, it happens, reboot and play again. The next one, it froze and the screen kinda did a weird flashing thing, like it was flipping between two partially displayed frames. The third time, audio started looping. The fourth time, half the screen got corrupted, with part of the game and the other half was still the game, but severely distorted, random colors, etc.
By the 10'th or so crash, i would get complete screens of solid colors, sometimes this dark green, sometimes with a bright orange.
Eventually my friend Baha said that he knew someone with an issue like this, and he fixed it by underclocking his GPU by 1% or something. So, i did the same and the crashes and freezes seemed to have stopped.
By this point, however, its around june-july of 2012 and I had moved all my gaming back to my desktop because the crashes were so annoying, so I didn't really notice too many odd things.
But now, it's starting to come back. I've put some games like Dota 2, Black Ops 2, Sim City, etc on my laptop for when i'm at work and its a periood where nobody has shown up (i'm a professional photographer for a large directory corporation) so i'll kill time until the next appointment by shooting people in their virtual faces. No probems until two days ago, when I installed Bioshock Infinite for my vacation. I didn't want to bring my whole desktop with me, since I would be visiting family, so the laptop was the next best thing.
Installed, played, lamented my low FPS, downloaded drivers, fixed the FOV and some other tweaks, now im happy that I can muster atleast 55 FPS at all times, most of the time over 60, except that last night the crashes came back. The first time, it was a freeze without any of the other symptoms, which really worried me, but after a combination of Ctrl+Alt+Del, Alt tabbing, and Alt F4'ing, i managed to switch over to the task manager and kill the game. But, when i finally got out of the game, the desktop was inverted colors, my taskbar which is normally blue was this bright orange color and everything else was similarly weird. I took a screenshot of it, but for some reason on the screenshot everything was fine...I alt tabbed a few more times and it fixed itself when I launched the game again. No biggie, kepy playing, since I've heard lots of people talk about crashes.
Then, about 20 minutes past that point, it crashed again, this time with a solid black screen, my FRAPS counter freezing, and the entire computer locking up, I managed to alt tab out again, only to be greeted with a "Nvidia Display driver stopped working and has recovered" baloon, which hasnt happened on the laptop before, only on my desktop when i'm doing something retarded with overclocks or I messed up Nvidia surround or something. Odd, i thought, so this time I rebooted and tried playing again.
I had roughly an extra 2-3 FPS than before, so I thoought, "Oh, maybe my RAM just needed to get cleared. Stupid windows 8." Until it crashed AGAIN, about five minutes past where it crahsed before (after me playing for another 20 minutes because the checkpoints in Infinite just suck ass), this time, with nothing more than a freeze for roughly 0.7 seconds then my computer rebooting.
It had seemed like the move to Windows 8 actuallly made things a little bit better than Windows 7 (Which I attribute to it being a clean install without Dell's dirty fingers everywhere) but apparently not.
What exactly do you guys think is causing all these weird issues, and what can I do to help prevent them?
And, if it turns out that my mGPU IS actually dying, would there be anyway to replace or upgrade it?
TLDR: Lots of random odd crahses, they stopped for awhile, but they're back, only occurs on certain games, wat do.