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Drivers are dead on arrival when it comes to use on laptop cards with high resolution screens

As a tester of Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Windows 10, I feel to some degree a civic duty to stick it out through the rough edges.  And thankfully, for the most part, critical bugs have been few and far between.

Few and far between, that is, except when it comes to NVIDIA Corp.'s (NVDA) experimental graphics drivers.

With Build 10041, which rolled out last week, Microsoft's pushed partner NVIDIA's GeForce 349.90 WQHL driver to at least some of the lucky testers.  Despite the allure of DirectX 12, I remiained rather wary of these new drivers.  After all, with Build 9926 I had suffered continual freezing, black screens of death, blue screens of death, and error popups until I rolled back the snakebitten GeForce 349.65 WQHL dirvers.

So when those sporty new GeForce 349.90 WQHL drivers started flaking out on me, at least I knew what -- or who -- was to blame.

Windows 10 NVIDIA drivers
Here's the drivers I had to kill off; I briefly re-updated them for demonstration's sake
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I'm not alone.  A number of users on NVIDIA's GeForce Forums have reported experiencing crashes and BSODs.  But the part about my experience that's worth noting is that unlike many of the users in the GeForce Forums thread I'm experiencing these crashes without ever firing up a DirectX PC game.

As far as I can tell from the forums posts there are some common threads among those like me who are suffering crashes:
  • They tend to have laptop graphics cards.
  • Typically they have a high resolution display.
  • The issues appear to be memory related
    • My GPU has to share a pool of 5 GB (out of 8 GB) of DDR3 with the CPU.
The memory woes are so severe that I typically couldn't even have two images open simultaneously in Adobe System Inc.'s (ADBE) Photoshop Creative Cloud triggering a hard freeze or crash.  I would continuously get popups that my system was running out of memory, when gigabytes of my RAM sat unused.

OpenGL

Ultimately these issues were severe enough that once more I rolled back my drivers.  There is one piece of good news there to report, at least.  Rolling back to the GeForce 349.65 driver, it appears that NVIDIA and Microsoft have synced up.  Where as GeForce 349.65 was a mess (on my hardware) in Windows 10 Preview Build 9926, on Build 10041 it appears to be sufficiently stable.  I haven't had any major crashes or issues yet.

Windows 10 driver
At least the stability of the GeForce 349.65 WQHL driver has improved...

My hope is that NVIDIA and Microsoft will sort through these issues as they did with the GeForce 349.65 WQHL driver.  But as for me, I've suffered enough at the hands of GeForce 349.90 WQHL.  It's rollback time.
NVIDIA GeForce 650M GT

If you encounter similar issues -- particularly if you're running on a laptop with a dedicated video card and a higher resolution display -- I suggest rolling back.  It may seem like admitting defeat, but it's better than living with hourly crashes.




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