So a couple days ago I got Dawn of War II Gold edition. Which would be great if every so often (usually when lots of visual effects are occurring on screen) my computer didn't decide to crap out and give me a black (or on one occassion, a grey) screen.
Before anyone says "go bug Relic/THQ/Steam", I KNOW it isn't the game. Or rather, it's not the software. I'm 99% certain my problem has to do with my video card. My reasoning is based on the fact that this incident of "black screen unresponsiveness" has happened- at least 9 or 11 times with Mirror's Edge, 1 with Dawn of War:Dark Crusade, probably between 8 and 11 times with DoWII, and a few times with a couple of other Unreal Engine 3 games.
Thus, my questions:
1. I've decided that I NEED a new video card, considering it renders DoWII effectively unplayable. Advice on a good-quality, inexpensive, and reliable card that is under 200 dollars (preferably in the US$100-150 range) and will play Dawn of War II (and Chaos Rising, as I got both in the Gold Edition) on at least all low (preferably all medium) settings (but with 1366x768 widescreen resolution (my native screen size)), is wanted.
2. Since I'm probably not going to get a new video card until my birthday (about 2 months away), what are some ways I can optimise my computer (and especially my video card) so that I can minimize or at least recover without having to manually cut power and boot to desktop.
3. I'd also like to know what kinds of things can cause video card problems and how to correct them in a way I can do on my own; excluding malicious foreign software though, as I'm certain it's a hardware, and not a software, issue.
For the inevitable questions about the issue and my system specs-
HP Pavilion dv6z laptop, running Vista 64-bit (Service Pack 2),
AMD Athlon X2 Dual-Core QL-65 2.1GHz processor
ATI Radeon HD3200 video card
I don't kow what my sound card is.
Generally in heavy-graphics games (like Unreal Engine 3 games or DoWII), or in games where there are portions where there's a lot of graphics effects (particularly particle effects it seems), my computer's screen will randomly go black (or as noted, on one occassion it turned grey) and my computer will then be (seemingly) unresponsive.
UPDATE 4/6/2010- the issue also has happened with Shattered Horizon, an indie FPS I'm trying on Steam's free weekend of it.