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OldFart
01-12-2013, 07:29 PM
I have a customer who has an ASUS G50VT-X5 ROG laptop. The video card is the nVidia GeForce 9800M GS w/ 512 MB of VRAM. She brought it to me with the 'nvlddmkm.sys' BSOD issue, and rather than have me fix the problem, she asked me to scrub the drive and install Windows 7 Pro 64-bit on it, which I did after she backed up all her files. It had Vista 64-bit on it originally.

After the Win7 installation completed and I was presented with the desktop, I took a look in Driver Manager and noticed that a Microsoft Generic VGA driver had been installed. Apparently, the Win7 installer/hardware detector doesn't know anything about the 9800M GS card, although after running Windows Update, I found a GeForce 9800m GS driver in the list of updates. So, I let Windows update itself.

After the update finished and the laptop rebooted, I got back into Driver Manager and noticed there was a yellow exclamation point next to the video card entry for the 9800M GS and obviously, there was no hardware acceleration. So, I went to support.asus.com, entered the serial number on the bottom of the laptop, and it took me to a G50VT page. The picture of the laptop on the web page looked exactly like her laptop, so I figured I must be in the right place. I then selected Windows 7 64-bit from the OS pull-down list, and found and downloaded the GeForce driver listed among all the other drivers.

Before installing this driver, I installed 'Driver Cleaner' and set it to remove nvidia drivers, which is did. I then rebooted and installed the ASUS support provided driver. After rebooting, I was presented with the same results as before; i.e. yellow exclamation point next to the video card entry in Driver Manager and no hardware acceleration.

I then went to the nVidia/GeForce website, had it automatically detect the video card, which it identified correctly, downloaded their latest driver (310.xx), and started over; uninstalled the current driver, ran 'Driver Cleaner' to remove any remnants, rebooted and then installed the latest driver from the GeForce site. I also had it do a 'clean install', which required another reboot. After finally installing the latest driver from nVidia, the end result was exactly the same as before; yellow exclamation point in Driver Manager and no hardware acceleration.

I then searched the Internet for older/archived nVidia drivers and downloaded at LEAST a dozen different Windows 7 drivers that supported the 9xxx chip series. Some of them I got from THIS website. After following the same procedure as outlined above for each and every driver version, the end result was the same as before (for EVERY driver version); yellow exclamation point in Driver Manager and no hardware acceleration.

So, my question is; what the hell is going on with this laptop? Which driver version SHOULD I install? Is there something wrong with the hardware or is Win7 just not compatible with this laptop? What am I doing wrong or what step am I leaving out?

By the way, the owner of this laptop is an active duty US Coast Guard service woman, and I'd REALLY like to fix her laptop.

Any and all feedback/suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

OldFart

dstrakele
01-13-2013, 01:16 AM
From one old fart to another - it sounds like you're doing all the right things and coming up short. If I were in your situation, I'd try booting into Windows Safe Mode and reinstalling the latest NVIDIA driver for the Geforce 9800m using the 'clean' installation again to hopefully remove any previously uninstalled NVIDIA driver remnants that may be causing problems. Windows Safe Mode will help by disabling other running drivers (such as Antivirus) that may interfere with your NVIDIA driver installation.

If the latest NVIDIA driver failed, I'd try a 'clean' install of the NVIDIA driver version from the ASUS website, again from Safe Mode. This version WAS tested by ASUS to work without issues on the G50VT model.

If that failed, I would try eliminating the possibility of a corrupt Windows 7 installation by running System File Checker from an elevated Command Prompt (SFC /scannow) OR completely reinstall Windows 7 SP1, then install the Intel Chipset driver followed immediately by the NVIDIA driver before installing anything else.

What error code and error text is being displayed in Device Manager? There is an outside chance of a hardware problem with the video card.

Myk SilentShadow
01-13-2013, 01:37 AM
Format the drive and reinstall Windows again. Don't let Windows update the VGA in any way, shape or form and then install the Nvidia drivers manually. When it comes to Windows and drivers, let it use the basic stuff and then use the proper drivers after you get it to basic working order...MS is known to get stuff wrong :p

OldFart
01-13-2013, 04:48 PM
Thanks for the replies. Win7 Pro 64-bit was installed to a freshly reformatted hard drive, and no issues were observed, either during or after installation, other than the wrong video driver being installed by Windows (both pre and post update). I was not aware that the nVidia drivers could be installed in Safe Mode, assuming they required the Windows Installer service, which does not run in Safe Mode. I will try that though.

I didn't install the antivirus software (Avast) until after jumping through all the nVidia driver hoops described in my original post, so that wasn't the issue. Actually, installing Avast was the LAST thing I did. The only drivers/software that were installed are what Windows Update provided (SP1 and all the other security patches/updates/crap they install). It's simple enough to uninstall Avast though, which I'll do before attempting anything else.

I'm beginning to wonder if the Windows installer and update services may have loaded the wrong chipset drivers too. I didn't load (manually or otherwise) any chipset drivers, specifically, and assumed (probably incorrectly) that either the installation process (or Win7) or the Windows Update service loaded whatever is/was required. Does anyone know if there's anything 'special' about the chipset drivers used in the ROG laptops?

Another observation that may or may not be relevant; there were two other 'unknown device' lines in Driver Manager, which I assumed to be something unrelated to video (modem or Bluetooth or SD card reader or whatever). Maybe one or both of those are chipset related? That seems unlikely to me, simply because the nVidia card was/is always identified correctly during driver installation. The only thing I remember about the status of the video card in Driver Manager was that the driver was not running (couldn't start or whatever). I can double check that though and post back on it, if it's relevant.

I had to give the laptop back to it's owner, because she needed it for school/training. She's only 19 (I'm old enough to be her grandfather) and has only been in the Coast Guard for about 1 year. But I digress. I'll call the owner today and find out if she can drop it off for further troubleshooting. When I get it back, I'll make a list of all the KNOWN devices and post those to see if maybe something critical is missing. Feedback on all that would be greatly appreciated.

I've never come across this particular series/model (ROG) of laptop before, and know little to nothing about it. Is it possible that something else is missing (chipset driver or whatever) that might be causing the nVidia driver issue? Obviously, Windows Update leaves a lot to be desired, when it comes to hardware identification. I've had issues with it on my own desktop computers and laptops.

Thanks again for all your help. It is greatly appreciated.

OldFart

dstrakele
01-13-2013, 06:24 PM
Windows ALWAYS installs its Plug-N-Play VGA driver, so you've got something to look at during the installation. If you completely uninstall the NVIDIA driver, Windows will install its Plug-N-Play VGA driver on reboot.

It sounds like there wasn't much installed when you attempted the NVIDIA driver installation. http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/379976-33-nvidia-drivers-fail-install is a thread where the user had a similar install issue and resolved it by reinstalling Windows. If NVIDIA driver installation from Safe Mode fails, I'd probably try downloading the Win 7 64-bit version ISO file that includes SP1 from the Digital River website and use it to burn your installation DVD or USB flash drive. That should eliminate some time updating with Windows Update. You can activate the Windows Installation with the same Product ID you used the first time once you're satisfied the drivers are functioning correctly.

I would probably get the drivers from the ASUS G50VT Download section for Windows 7 64-bit. They may be a little older, but at least you know they worked on that particular system when it was shipped with that OS. There is no Intel Chipset driver listed, so just accept what is installed by Windows.

See if the NVIDIA install succeeds as the 1st driver installation. If so, and you're feeling lucky, you could then attempt to install the latest NVIDIA driver for that card. Then install the ATK Drivers (a set of drivers that control the Function Keys - it looks like you may need to download and install several ATK drivers from the "Utilities" section - they are not a single package like on later laptops), then follow up with Ethernet, WiFi, Audio, Touchpad, and Card Reader. I'm unsure what other devices may be included with that particular model.

I typically install drivers one at a time, rebooting between each installation.

Republic of Gamers (ROG) is just an ASUS model line that sports a dedicated graphics card, faster CPU, and more RAM for gaming purposes.

gr8sho
01-18-2013, 12:44 AM
I have a customer who has an ASUS G50VT-X5 ROG laptop. The video card is the nVidia GeForce 9800M GS w/ 512 MB of VRAM. She brought it to me with the 'nvlddmkm.sys' BSOD issue, and rather than have me fix the problem, she asked me to scrub the drive and install Windows 7 Pro 64-bit on it, which I did after she backed up all her files. It had Vista 64-bit on it originally.


There is an outside chance of a hardware problem with the video card.


Format the drive and reinstall Windows again. Don't let Windows update the VGA in any way, shape or form and then install the Nvidia drivers manually. When it comes to Windows and drivers, let it use the basic stuff and then use the proper drivers after you get it to basic working order...MS is known to get stuff wrong :p

I bought one of these for my son as a gift when he was in the National Reserve, so some commonality, yes? This particular machine happens to be one of the BestBuy varieties.

At some point recently the nvlddmkm.sys issue started happening rendering the machine useless. There's a lot going on here but I'll try to be as concise as possible. I'm wanting to understand if the BSOD issue is due to a hardware problem with the GPU card, or if it's somehow truly tied to some type of driver issue. Vista was never good with drivers, and along with Nvidia made for a very dicey combination.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time reimaging the machine back to originally factory default state. I did not see any driver problems. Because this is intended to be a gaming machine after all, I moved ahead and installed the latest NVidia driver. All sounds familiar, right? Well sure as the sun comes up in the east, the darn machine started bluescreening again.

Because the machine appears to be running hot and frankly has always run hot, I decided to reapply TIM to the CPU and the GPU. This appears to have made a big difference in the temps of those components, but the machine just isn't stable under load.

I know I can always go back and reimage the machine and try again, but if updating the video driver puts me back where I'm again it will be more lost time and no gain.

So, is this indeed a driver problem, or is the Nvidia GPU card most likely stressed and no longer reliable to be used as a gaming device? I can't find any good information on this through Google, and the 3 phone calls I made to Asus technical support didn't provide me any additional insight other than I can't buy a replacement video card through them.

Thanks and Cheers,

OldFart
01-18-2013, 02:38 AM
Yeah. Sounds familiar. IF you're forced to re-image the drive again, and assuming it WILL boot and doesn't blue screen, please take a look at the driver revision number and post that information here (before trying anything else). I'm assuming it's one of the drivers posted on the ASUS G50VT web page, although there's no telling.

It's highly unlikely that the chips (CPU or GPU) are actually heating up to the point where one or the other chokes and causes the BSOD, and the few times I actually saw that phenomenon, it went away completely when I installed Windows 7 Pro 64-bit on the laptop. I just couldn't get hardware acceleration enabled. Aside from that though, it was very stable, unlike Vista. I suspect what you're seeing is a Vista/nVidia driver issue, and nothing will fix that except moving to Windows 7 (or maybe XP).

In my many years of experience with water-cooling, I planted dozens of water blocks on both CPUs and GPUs and used TEC (Thermo Electric Cooling) devices (also known as a Peltier device) between the chips and the water blocks. As a general rule of thumb, I found that driver revisions had more to do with stability than whether a chip ran at 0 degrees or above 32. nVidia drivers control the voltages and timing their chips run at, and some revisions take things to extremes, or are just badly coded (take your pick).

I'll be getting the laptop in question back from the owner some time tomorrow (Friday, US, Pacific Time), at which point I will try a few more things. Whatever I find (good or bad), I will post that info here so that other might benefit.

Thanks for contributing. It is greatly appreciated.

Old Fart

gr8sho
01-18-2013, 03:40 AM
My son reminded me that the machine has always run hot. But I never measured it, at least not until the past few days. I uninstalled the 310.90 drivers and put them back to I think a July 2009 version which if I'm not mistaken was the stock driver in the original image. There's no way to know for sure that the uninstall worked to put things in a proper pristine state, but if I give it the benefit of the doubt, I went ahead and played Half Life 2 for about 20 minutes and the machine worked fine. Then I went to run Black Ops 2. After the game crashed repeatedly, I was able to spot that the GPU was at 93C. If this temp is okay given that it is a laptop, then I'm not sure what more I can do with this machine for now. The measured idle temp for the GPU is about 55C.

One additional reason I'm pessimistic about the hardware is that we had an OCZ Vertex 3 in this machine running Windows 8 consumer preview and that too proved to be unstable. And yet it's a failure mode I have never seen before.

The TIM used BTW is Arctic Silver 5. I did not replace the thermal pads. Just the TIM on the CPU and GPU chips in case anyone thinks that matters.

I'm still willing to try a few more things. Such a shame really because it was a nice machine.

gr8sho
01-18-2013, 04:05 AM
I had my son reimage the machine yet again. This time he was greeted immediately with Nvidia driver error message while bringing up the desktop. So I guess the theory that the newer driver somehow caused the BSODs is out the window.

Anyone know how much Asus would charge to repair this machine assuming that replacing the video card is the problem? I'm a little wary of buying a used card off of eBay.

gr8sho
01-21-2013, 03:33 AM
I was able to find a way to poke a value into one of the hardware registers to get the CPU fan to max RPM. This made a major difference to the temp of the CPU and GPU. Unfortunately this learning came a bit too late to save the 9800M GS card. It is now artifacting even at low load and won't even keep the machine up very long before it BSODs. So I'm declaring the video card dead at this point. Thanks for your help.

Hopefully we can get a replacement card soon.

If anyone has any suggestions on where to source a new card from, either post here or PM me.

Thanks and Cheers,
Carl

lynchknot
12-31-2013, 11:23 AM
Just in case someone else has this problem. My nephew has this same laptop with the same symptoms. I removed the video card and used a heat gun to reflow the solder joints. It worked! I installed the latest drivers and no more blue screens.

gumpdude
09-11-2014, 06:35 AM
Finally an answer that has been successfully solved. Ive been scouring the internet to find an answer. I bought this computer back in 2008 and it was only last week that this issue started. i know this thread is pretty old but if heating up the solder points works, then i guess its never too late to help someone in need. Thanks!