Two Common Problems with 3D Games
I have attended too many times to resolve two distinct computer gaming issues which are frankly difficult to understand for average users: The issue of having a completely or partially black screen and the issue of having a completely or partially white screen.
The issue of having a completely black screen or having black strips all over the screen often denotes a shortage of dedicated video memory. Note that most video cards can borrow from system memory to compensate for their lack of enough dedicated memory. However, this solution does not help video gamers whose games thirst for speed and huge amounts of memory. Since nowadays users cannot upgrade their Video RAMs – since they are integrated into the GPU – the only viable option for them would be to install a new and more powerful video card, either parallel to the former or completely replacing it.
The issue of having a completely white screen or having white strips all over the screen often denotes a rendering error caused either by the driver, DirectX or the GPU. Luckily, updating video driver, video firmware or DirectX most of the times resolves this issue. However, sometimes the issue is caused by an unsupported feature and/or a glitch in GPU which cannot be solved but by replacing the graphic card.
These two issues are particularly seen on laptops, especially those with integrated graphic chips. It has long been a well-known fact that integrated (on-board) graphic chips are not suitable for gaming.
As always, DirectX Diagnostic Tool (dxdiag.exe) is one of the most useful tools for finding and troubleshooting gaming-related issues.
EDIT (29 July 2010): DirectX Diagnostic Tool is deprecated in Windows Vista and later. It has lost most of its functionalities. Perhaps, I should have noticed this loss when I first wrote this article but back then, no one wanted (and no one used) Windows Vista.