GPU-Z is a program that allows you to identify important information about your computer's graphics hardware. It can show the current version of installed drivers, hardware model, device speeds, and even has a tab for tracking a graphics card's temperature and operating frequency.
For Guild Wars 2, we use GPU-Z to identify potential hardware-related issues that may be causing crashing or framerate issues in the game client.
Please note that while GPU-Z is a trusted piece of software, it is not developed or controlled by ArenaNet. We have no control over where these applications are stored, how they are modified, or how they are protected. You are responsible for the security and integrity of your system. We expressly disclaim all warranties relating to these applications. For more information, see our article on using third party programs for support.
You can find and download GPU-Z here: https://www.techpowerup.com/gpuz/
Navigating and Reading GPU-Z Information
The GPU-Z interface is divided into two main tabs: the "Graphics Card" tab and the "Sensors" tab.
The "Graphics Card" Tab
The tab labeled "Graphics Card" lists a bunch of information about the basic capabilities of your graphics hardware. It's packed with information, but if you want to know what a specific section is talking about, you can simply hover your mouse cursor over an information box for a quick description of what its contents mean.
There are four main pieces of information we can gather from this tab:
- Name. This is the model name of your graphics card (GPU.) We can use this information and compare against our minimum system requirements to know initially whether your device is compatible with the current version of the game.
- Bus Interface. This box will show the supported bandwidth of a card versus the speed it is currently running at. In our example image, the card supports up to PCIe x16 4.0 and is installed in a configuration that only supports up to PCIe x16 3.0.
- DirectX Support. This box will show the most recent version of DirectX supported by the card. Since Guild Wars 2 requires DirectX 11 to play, anything meeting or exceeding that value will suffice. In our example, the card is capable of running programs using up to DirectX version 12.2. *
- Driver Version & Driver Date. These boxes give information on the currently installed graphics drivers (supporting software) installed on your device. We can use this information to determine whether an update may be necessary.
* Please note that, in addition to your graphics hardware, your supported DirectX version may also be limited by your operating system. For example, Windows XP only supports up to DirectX 9. As such, even if a graphics card can handle DirectX 11, the operating system may impose additional limits on what DirectX version can be used by programs running on the device.
The "Sensors" Tab
This tab actively monitors and graphs information about the graphics card's operating frequency and temperature, in addition to supplemental information such as fan speed and load percentages. Most of the information will be organized into three columns in the format of Name -> Numerical Value -> Visual Representation.
While most of the information here is most useful for more advanced users, the "GPU Temperature" listing (typically located on line three in the "Sensors" view) is a useful piece of information when it comes to identifying potential issues, so be sure to locate it and keep an eye on it during troubleshooting.
Troubleshooting Problems With GPU-Z
Below you will find steps for identifying and troubleshooting some of the most common issues that can be identified using the GPU-Z program.
Outdated Graphics Drivers
Using the "Driver Version" or "Driver Date" boxes on the "Graphics Card" tab, one can identify whether the supporting software for a device is out of date.
Having an out-of-date graphics driver means that your card might not be optimized for all the latest graphical features and game releases that it supports. As such, you may experience lowered framerates or crashes when using out-of-date graphics drivers.
Typically, a new set of graphics drivers for modern cards is released every month or two. If you notice the date listed in the "Driver Date" is more than a month behind the current date, you can visit your card's manufacturer's website to grab the latest update.
You can find driver information for the most popular card brands here:
- Nvidia: https://www.nvidia.com/Download/index.aspx
- AMD: https://www.amd.com/en/support
- Intel: https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/download-center/home.html
Using the "Sensors" tab, you can monitor your device's operating temperatures while playing the game.
Overheating, as the name implies, occurs when a graphics card begins to run too hot to continue operating safely. In order to prevent serious damage to the hardware, an overheating card will begin to "throttle," or turn down its performance, in order to conserve power and cool off. When this happens, your framerate may begin to drop or "stutter," or your game may even crash.
Since every card is different, there's no single threshold for what counts as overheating. Modern cards (as of 2023) typically begin to reduce power somewhere between 90 and 100 degrees, however we encourage you to do some research into your specific GPU to confirm whether overheating might be a cause for concern. You can typically find the information in technical specifications listed by the manufacturer; it will often be referred to as "Maximum Operating Temperature" or similar in these pieces of documentation.
As an example, if your card's maximum operating temperature is 92 degrees Celsius, the card will do everything it can to not reach or exceed that value. If it does, even for a brief period, its performance output may be limited in an effort to reduce the temperature.
To address this issue, you can try lowering your in-game settings, or disabling background programs that might be putting additional strain on your hardware.
If lowering your settings does not resolve the issue, or if the overheating continues even without a game running, it may be a sign of a more serious hardware issue, such as failing fans. In this case, we encourage you to reach out to the card's manufacturer for support.
Mismatched Bus Interface
In the "Graphics Card" tab of GPU-Z, you can find a section labeled "Bus Interface" that shows the available bandwidth for your device's graphics card. This box will show the supported bandwidth of a card versus the speed it is currently running at.
In our example image, the card supports up to PCIe x16 4.0 and is installed in a configuration that only supports up to PCIe x16 3.0.
A small mismatch like this is typically okay - the PCI-E x16 4.0 architecture is relatively new, so the motherboard of our computer might simply not have this feature. This means that, while our card is technically not running at the maximum speed it could be, it's running at the highest speed the rest of our computer can support.
A mismatched Bus Interface becomes more of a problem, however, if there is a greater difference between the numerical value listed. For example, if our card showed "PCIe x16 4.0 @ x16 1.1" there may be an issue.
The bus interface is most often lowered by one of two things:
- Power Saving Functionality. Certain operating system settings, or settings maintained by your graphics driver or card manufacturer's configuration software can cause your graphics card to automatically reduce power when not needed. Typically, this should only occur when a game is closed or minimized, in which case a lower or mismatched bus interface is okay to ignore. However, if the mismatch still occurs even when your game is open or the card is under load, you may wish to disable these power saving options as they may not be registering the game properly, and not ramping up their speeds to account for the greater need of processing power.
- Incorrectly Installed Graphics Card. Another potential cause for a mismatched Bus Interface is if your graphics card is not physically connected properly to either your motherboard or its power cables. If you are confident in navigating computer hardware, we recommend that you check to see that the card is seated properly and plugged in firmly to the ports on your motherboard, and that all power cables are clipped into place. Otherwise, a repair technician can assist you, or identify a more serious hardware issue.