DirectX Encountered An Unrecoverable Error

There’s nothing worse than dealing with problems related to DirectX. It’s a core component of functionality for most of our games and entertainment media. So, when issues arise, they become a nuisance. No exception is “DirectX Encountered an unrecoverable error.”  Essentially it’s an aggravating bug which will stop programs opening on your PC completely, regardless if they’re properly installed and compatible. When you’re about to boot up your favorite game and see this, well, needless to say, it’s frustrating.

Solutions and Answers

This issue was and is notorious for popping up with Activision’s Call of Duty series, where players would encounter the irritating bug when booting up. Since then communities have come up with fixes, but mostly they’re simply workarounds. Hopefully, we can offer you the same, but the bug itself is painfully resilient so that it will take some trial and error.

Before anything else, it’s important to make sure your system meets the requirements of the software in question. Again, since the issue was commonly found with a game, some of these errors occurred because of PC specifications – or lack thereof.

Modifying Monitor Settings

If you have a game installed on Steam with the error occurring, try these steps:

  • Identify system requirements of the software. You can find this on its Steam Store page. Pay attention especially to its DirectX requirements as this could be the culprit.
  • If you’re not sure, you can use Windows 7 and 8 to search. Go to the Windows start button and type “run” in the search prompt.
  • When “run” has started, type “dxdiag (no quotations). This will create a text of information.
  • There should be an information tab for the system, which tells you which version of DirectX you have. If it’s not DirectX 11, there’s your problem. If it is, we can continue.

From here, there’s a multi-pronged approach with variations of success or failure. Because of each person’s rig having custom specifications and hardware setups, it can be a nuisance to pin down a one-size-fits-all answer.

Our first solution is an adjustment of display settings to hopefully fix the error. This solution assumes that you have all hardware/software requirements for the program in question.

  • With no programs open, right-click on your desktop.
  • A tab will appear with options. Choose “screen resolution.”
  • Click on “screen resolution,” which will create a prompt with more options. In those options, you’ll want to find and click “make text and other items larger or smaller.”
  • Your solution depends on the operating system. If running Windows 7, make the option 100% smaller. If running Windows 8, pull the toggle to the left completely.
  • Restart your system. If all goes well, this should solve the problem.

If you’re still encountering issues, read on.

DirectX is Corrupt

It’s quite likely the version of DirectX you’re running is corrupt. So, reinstalling it can solve the problem. Once again, we have to assume the problem is primarily with a Call of Duty game so that solutions will revolve primarily around that.

For Windows 7/8:

  • Hover over the “my computer” icon and double-click.
  • Look for the following folder(s): C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\Common\Call of Duty Ghosts\DirectX OR C:\Program Files\Steam\SteamApps\Common\Call of Duty Ghosts\DirectX
  • Within the folder should be a sub-folder with your current DirectX version. Click this folder.
  • Inside the DirectX folder is “dxsetup.exe.” Right click this file and run as administrator.
  • From there you will reinstall DirectX. Restart your PC and the problem should be fixed.

If you’re still encountering trouble, it could still relate to your monitor display settings. To resolve this, try to identify it first.

“John D. Rockefeller wanted to dominate oil, but Microsoft wants it all, you name it: cable, media, banking, car dealerships.” – Ralph Nader

Identify Your Display

This step will properly identify another monitor if you’re attempting to run a program with two or more monitors.

For Windows 7/8:

  • Go to your control panel.
  • Search for an “identify” button and click it.
  • If correctly plugged in, you’ll see your monitors next to large numbers on the prompt.
  • Adjust these monitors accordingly until properly sized.
  • Click OK.
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Attempt to run your program again. If it’s encountering the same error, we’ll try a mix of the above step with another.

Disabling Your Extended Monitors

Multiple monitors are normally supported, but it’s possible one of them is not currently compatible with DirectX or the program in question. By addressing this, you may solve your issue.

You will need to set a primary monitor while disabling the other(s).

  • Press the Windows key and X.
  • Go to your control panel. There, you should see appearance and personalization. Look at “Display.”
  • On the left panel, you should see “Adjust Resolution.”
  • Click that, and a drop-down box will appear. There should be a selection for “Multiple Displays.” (If you do not have multiple displays, this option will not appear.)
  • Under “Multiple Displays,” make sure “Extend these displays” is not selected. All selections should be for single monitor use.
  • After this, click Apply and OK.

You can also follow the first four steps here and then attempt the “Identify Your Display” option. This should likely resolve any compatibility issues you are experiencing with a multiple-monitor setup.

Update Microsoft DirectX

While it’s possible your DirectX version is corrupted, it’s also likely the version is out of date.

To solve this:

  • Go to Control Panel or Programs and Features.
  • Select “Uninstall a Program.” Wait for your list to populate.
  • Right click DirectX and then Uninstall.
  • Restart your PC. Reinstall the latest version of DirectX.
  • Follow all steps.

If the compatibility problems were related to DirectX due to a buggy/old version, this should resolve them.

Modify and Change Game Compatibility

In some cases, it’s not DirectX suffering from compatibility problems. It might be necessary to change the program/game settings instead.

For Windows 7/8:

  • Locate and right click the game’s desktop shortcut.
  • A window will appear. Select “Properties” from the drop-down.
  • Under Properties check the Compatibility tab. You will have several options.
  • There is an option “Run this Program in Compatibility Mode for X,” where X is an earlier version of the Windows OS.
  • Select the appropriate version, click Apply, then OK.
  • Run the altered program. The issue should be resolved.

Reconfigure Display Quality Problems

As your monitor and display settings are likely factors in causing errors, this resolution should hopefully address it.

To troubleshoot for Windows 7/8:

  • Go to your control panel. Make sure any extra monitors are disabled.
  • Under Control Panel, search in the appropriate top right bar: Control Panel/All Control Panel Items.
  • Look for the Troubleshooting icon and click it.
  • You should see an option for Hardware and Sound or Hardware and Devices. Click the one available to you.
  • A wizard should appear. From this window check the Advanced options.
  • Under Advanced, check the box which says “Apply Repairs Automatically.”
  • Click Next and allow the wizard to complete repairs.

Check to see if your program now runs successfully. Or, after diagnostics, you will see if there are any new problems.

Change/Reinstall Graphics Media Accelerator

Graphics accelerators can cause unwanted issues. Or, they are not compatible with the program you’re attempting to run, namely a game. To resolve this, either you’ll repair or uninstall the media accelerator.

For Windows 7/8:

  • Press your Windows key and X.
  • Go to Programs and Features. (For other Windows versions, go to Control Panel.)
  • Check for any accelerator drivers. This might be a nVidia or Intel driver. Or, whatever you have available.
  • Right-click your available option. Select “Uninstall” from the drop down.
  • Once you uninstall the accelerator, restart the system.
  • You can choose to leave it uninstalled. Or, you may download the accelerator again for a reinstall.

As you can see, troubleshooting the error is tricky. The issues mainly involve compatibility problems regarding things like display drivers, external monitors, and outdated programs. The error also notoriously involves gaming software from Activision and the Call of Duty series, of which there are numerous versions. Each edition of CoD might come with its set of problems and errors, so it’s important to be thorough.


If you’re still not sure about troubleshooting the problems, keep these important things in mind:

  • Make sure you’re running the most up-to-date DirectX version.
  • Or, make sure your version of DirectX is compatible.
  • Keep all graphics drivers up to date.
  • Disable all external displays and monitors to simplify your issue.
  • Make sure none of your software related to display drivers is corrupted or outdated. Uninstall and reinstall if necessary.
  • Make sure your PC specifications meet the requirements for the game in question. If you do not have the minimum requirements at least, the game will not run.
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Many users have come up with their fixes and solutions for “DirectX has encountered an unrecoverable error.” The problem is difficult to pin down because each’s system specifications are unique.

However, the above are the most effective broad stroke answers available. If you cannot resolve your errors by using them, it might be a deeper rooted problem and require greater investigation of hardware/software.

Do you have any of your troubleshooting tips? What have you found that works as a stable workaround? We also have other solutions available for Windows errors!

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