I have recently assembled a new desktop, and after a while, I started to experience VPU recover issues in a certain game. Let me start with my computer specs first:  Asus P5Q Deluxe motherboard, Kingston Hyperx 2x 1 gb RAM 1066 MHz (KHX8500D2/1G), Intel Core2 Duo E8500 CPU, and a HIS HD4850 IceQ4, and all of these backed by a OCZ 500W Modxstream PSU (doesn’t beat my previous Enermax Liberty, but I can’t be bothered with removing it from my previous desktop now) in a Enermax Chakra case.

Before I start, I must say I am not completely an expert on the subject though I’m quite experienced with such issues.  So, I might neglect some aspects when writing this. While most of these information here is already available on the web, it is mostly scattered among pages and they might be hard to reach with improper keywords. But still, let’s get started:

So, what is VPU recover? It is a feature in ATI software that let’s the GPU (graphics processing unit) to restart itself when it faces a problem and stops responding that would otherwise freeze the computer if it didn’t restart. So, if you don’t have this selected in your Catalyst Control Center settings, then your PC is likely to freeze with a blank screen. First of all, this isn’t an error itself; rather the outcome of an error that has occured. VPU Recover let’s you continue your work without causing you lose the work you are working on, or whatever.

Then, what causes the GPU to stop responding? There might be a couple of reasons. The generic reply you will get from ATI/AMD is the following:

Based on our experience, lockups and hangs issues are usually due to improper
system configuration, driver issues, faulty hardware, or a known issue between
a given application, driver and hardware in use.

Please click the link below for more information:

https://support.ati.com/ics/support/default.asp?deptID=894&task=knowledge&questionID=28022

Before going to other possible reasons, the following is a good checklist:

  • Update your drivers. To update, you should uninstall them first. After uninstalling, make sure you clean everything else with Driver Sweeper. If you are unable to remove the remaining files from your Windows, then start Windows at Safe Mode and run Driver Sweeper. Once you are sure its all clean, you can reinstall your new drivers.
  • Overheating: Overheating of the GPU itself and the RAMs on the GPU can cause the GPU to stop responding. To see if this is the problem, monitor your GPU and RAM temperature with GPU-Z.  This little software will help you monitor the maximum temperature your graphic card has reached and also can log that. In my experience, graphic cards will be ok to run at 90 celcius degrees. With GPU-Z running, you can start playing your game and go back to GPU-Z if and when GPU recover occurs. Alternatively, you can also put your GPU under stress using software made for this. While running 3DMark can help, I suggest you try Furmark and Video Card Stability Test. If it turns out that overheating is the problem, I suggest you don’t do any overclocking, if you are already doing, and arrange your case in a way to maximise air flow with proper exhaust and intake coolers.  If your graphics card cooler isn’t that good, you can give better ones a try. I suggest you have a look at Arctic Cooling GPU coolers, which provide good performance at a relatively cheap price. Do not forget your RAM modules on your GPU.
  • PSU (power supply) failing to provide enough power for GPU: Old computer setups didn’t really need a lot of power. However, now a modern computer setup will require at least 400 W.  And that is also not enough. There are a lot of cheap PSUs out there that will boast hundreds of watts of power but will just not provide that.  I suggest you look for known brands like Enermax, OCZ, Zalman, Thermaltake, Tagan, and so on while choosing your PSU.  Additionally, its not only the power they provide, but also the amount of current on each rail.  In other words, a GPU might require a certain amount of amperes but the PSU might be failing to provide that.  Under stress, GPUs will start using more power.  So, if you are suspicious of your PSU, then borrow a good PSU if you can and try with that. If you can’t (and if you have already done what else I say here), consider getting a good PSU. Yes, a good PSU is expensive, but in most cases, its a one time investment and its required to keep your computer safe.

These are the two well-known issues that might cause you to get VPU recover. The others that helped me solve my issue might not be the case with you, but it won’t hurt if you try.

  • RAMs (not your GPU RAMs this time): I was also surprised to see RAMs as components of the computer that can cause this issue. But what I read made me convinced. Basically, RAMs (sort of random access memory) are where your computer writes and reads data on the fly, because they are real fast, they are used instead of harddrives. How does this relate to your GPU? Well, your GPU drivers and games can be in RAM when an error occurs, resulting in a failure to read. To make sure your RAMs are in good condition, you can try Memtest86. Microsoft also has a memory test software called Memory Diagnostic.  You will need to burn these ISO images to a blank cd and boot your computer with these to start testing. Let the test run over and over. If it is your RAMs, then you can remove one of the sticks and test them one by one to find the faulty one. Remember that RAMs these days find with lifetime warranty.
  • RAM compatibility: Does your motherboard like your RAMs? In my case, it was a no, because there were a couple of BIOS updates that were increasing compatibility with a lot of RAMs. Fortunately, my RAMs were in the qualified vendor list – RAMs that are known to run with no problems with this motherboard. This doesn’t mean others are not supported. It is just a list of RAMs that will work for sure. So, check BIOS version and look if there are any new updates relevant to RAM compatibility or anything else that is similar. Please note that, updating BIOS can be risky. Though it is a very easy thing to do, you might want to consult online forums or your motherboard manufacturer if you aren’t comfortable about it.
  • RAM timings: Some people report that running RAMs at wrong/unintended timings was the problem for them. So it was in my case: My RAMs were running at 800 MHz though they should be running at 1066 MHz.  DDR2 has a limit of 800 MHz and over that speed is only acquired through overclocking.  Some RAMs are produced to be able to run at that speeds and timings safely. So, check your BIOS if your RAMs run at desired speeds. Some motherboards will set the speeds and voltages automatically. Mine didn’t, so I had to set my timings to 5-5-5-15 at 2.2 Volts. These will change from RAM to RAM, so make sure you check your RAM manufacturer site for correct timings and voltages.
  • USB Legacy Support: You will find this setting in your BIOS. Disable it and see if it works for you.
  • Turn off Windows Page file, which is the virtual memory stored on your harddrive.

If all of these don’t help you, you should test your graphics card in another system. If not, contact your GPU manufacturer and let them know about this, and maybe RMA it.

I hope these were helpful to you.

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This post has 16 comments.

  1. satyanjoy
    15 Jun 09
    14:21

    Very informative article; I am facing vpu recovery for couple of days. I doubt my ram stick got some problem. I will do the test that you gave indicated here.

  2. Riker
    16 Jun 09
    23:56

    Through investigation and diagnostics, I feel I have fond the solution to my shared problem, the onboard sound card which is a realtek based sound card driver was disabled on the mother board, but the driver was not, and kept loading on startup, While this was not a problem for the most part in everyday use, Anytime I played that Half life game … that’s when I ran into problems and the screen was going into VPU recovery and then unstable and uncontrollable and unreadable situations began to occur, in turn it lead me to believe it may have been the video card, So I replaced it with a newer Ati card but still ran into the same problems. I always run a very high resolution as I do video editing and this was getting quite frustrating. So to make a long story short, My on board sound card driver was the conflicting with another sound card driver within the system, It was trying to work over my creative sound blaster card which I had installed.. because in my opinion and experience, the on board sound card.. just don’t perform as well as the “old standby” creative labs make.
    result,
    The system has been diagnosed, the registry cleaned and streamlined and all the driver’s are totally up to date. And the systems in performing great.. hope this helps

  3. Fik
    24 Aug 09
    15:17

    Thx sooo much for this article. I am facing vpu recovery for few months and till now, I didnt find a way how to fix it. I will do every thing in this article and hope for best.

  4. monstaA1
    15 Jan 10
    7:34

    Hi guys,

    This is what I had found and hopefully your VPU recovery error message can be solved.

    Just before christmas, I started putting together a new computer from scratch and these are my components – ASUS P7P55D, ASUS EAH5770 ATI and running on WinXP SP3. About 3-4 weeks later, the VPU recovery error pop up and then it became a regular occurance. Very annoying indeed.

    Basically this error is here to protect our investment but at the same time it is downright heat sensitive. I had the cover off and fan blowing directly at the grahpics card still the error comes up after some use especially graphic intensive games like Counter Strike Source at 1920 x 1080. Using SmartDoctor, it registered at 53 degrees which is quite acceptable. For older computers it is a good idea to do some house cleaning once in a while.

    Despite everything being new and parts being handpicked, I simply don’t believe that any of them is a cause.

    I sifted through the web and forums until someone suggested using “standard PCI to PCI bridge” driver in your “System Devices” which was for older AGP cards and they all worked. But despite mine being a HD PCI-Express card, I had similar success. Now, my problem is solved! I definitely dislike sending error reports.

    Hopefully you guys can have similar success. Good luck!

  5. xalk
    05 Feb 10
    13:23

    hi monstaA1 can you tell me more about
    standard PCI to PCI bridge thingy? does that fix it? this problem is driving me crazy i cant even use 3ds max..

  6. phataj
    28 Apr 10
    18:51

    I need help as well i don’t what to, im okay on computers but not very good on computers, I need help please I can’t play any games, this email adress Phataj@hotmail.co.uk if you wanna email with any suggestions, or jsut reply to this post.

  7. StarGazer
    19 May 10
    17:58

    Hi monstaA1, how do I use the “standard PCI to PCI bridge” driver? Can u give a guide step by step please? Thanks!

  8. midl
    28 Jul 10
    10:55

    Hi there, I had the similar problem with VPU Recovery message at my Sapphire HD 5870 1G Vapor-X graphic card. My solution was to downclock slightly the GPU memory from 1250MHz to 1240MHz via CCC tool. Maybe it can be a solution for some of you.

  9. guitarerro
    02 Sep 10
    22:46

    Hello all, had a similar problem with an older ASUS mobo. Two different AGP cards, one PCI standard card. Saem thing, VPU error.

    I removed the CPU chip, all the cards and the memory. Shot the whole mobo with brake cleaner, thoroughly spraying the all the slot contacts, the memory slots, the CPU holder and the power connections. Let it sit for a few hours after drying it with compressed air.

    Yes, brake cleaner still contains trichloroethane but contact cleaner sold at electronics stores no longer contains that.

    That stuff will damage clear plastic but seems to be OK with the mobo plastics- use at your own risk!

    Been running for a few days, running video, surfing, defragging, FTP’ing, moving big files, Photoshop, Dreamweaver and NO more problems!

  10. boban
    20 Mar 11
    2:41

    on the desktop i look:vpu recover and franework

  11. thanks :)

  12. Daisy Hasless
    03 Jun 11
    4:50

    I stopped using PC, lol, as the ultimate solution. I am writing this from a PS3 :)

    Daisy
    Handmade Jewelry Designer / Webadmin

  13. Chinmay Dwivedi
    16 Sep 11
    10:40

    ok many people have issues with their graphic card here!!
    the steps i did to sort my graphic card was very simple!!
    1.just uncheck the “ENABLE OVERRIDE” in Catalyst Control panel.

    2.turn of the computer enter the BIOS mode,then inside the device peripherals check the “PSI EXPRESS to ENABLE”(many people fail to ENABLE it)

    IT WORKED FOR ME!

  14. Chinmay Dwivedi
    16 Sep 11
    10:41

    and yea the most important part!
    ENABLE MANUAL FAN CONTROL AND SET IT TO 66%!! (do this before entering into BIOS mode)!!

  15. arif
    22 Apr 12
    14:19

    i was just playing a game and thad vpu recovery came in as always then i shut down the computer and when i opend window,s again my screen wasn’t working tere were no 3d effects can some one help me fix it please give me some information

  16. zaroro
    28 May 13
    12:17

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