Windows Enterprise Desktop

Sep 16 2011   2:57PM GMT

Combatting Notebook Windows 7 Video Driver Woes



Posted by: Ed Tittel
Tags:
recovering from a video driver blackscreen event
roll back driver button can be a godsend

OK, I admit it: I’m dangerous when bored. Earlier this week, I was stuck in an all-day conference where I started to lose both interest and focus. As is sometimes my wont when that happens, I fired up DriverAgent on my HP dv6t notebook PC. No sooner fired up and run than I found a new driver for the unit’s built-in Nvidia GeForce GT 320 M graphics adapter. Here’s what Gabe Topala’s excellent SIW (System Information for Windows) has to say about that component:

SIW output for Nvidia GT 320M

SIW provides the current details on my notebook graphics situation

At first, I turned up the Verde 280.26 driver (which is what Nvidia still recommends for this chipset on their site) but when I installed it on my machine, Windows 7 presented me with a black screen the next time I rebooted, which immediately told me this graphics driver and my particular configuration weren’t suited to each other. I rebooted again in safe mode using HP’s equivalent of the “press-and-hold F8″ maneuver immediately after BIOS boot complete to get a generic VGA driver that would actually show me something on the screen.

Next, I launched Control Panel, and took advantage of Device Manager’s “Roll Back Driver” button on the Driver tab in the Properties window for the affected device. Luckily for me, this worked like a charm and my system was working again after one more reboot to switch over to the previous driver version.

Roll Back Driver button

The Roll Back Driver button can occasionally be a real life-saver

This also got me to thinking about what I would have had to do to get back up and running if there hadn’t been a driver to roll back, or the rollback effort had failed. My quickest fix would be to try the Last Known Good Configuration for the system (another boot option in the F8 menu). Next, I would download a known good working driver to a USB stick, then install that driver in Safe Mode, and try again. I’m pretty sure either one or the other (if not both) of these approaches would restore the unit to proper operation. As it was in my case, I’m pretty sure that none of my meeting colleagues noticed that anything was amiss with my system: it took less than five minutes to set things right.

Eventually I tried the beta 285.27 graphics driver in this machine, and I’m happy to report it’s working just fine. This graphics chipset is something of a wimp, but using MSI Afterburner with the settings turned up as much as I dare, it works OK for me.

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