I complained a week ago about my display driver going berserk.
I blamed Windows Update, since it happened within hours of a pile of updates being installed.
I upgraded to the latest beta NVidia drivers on Monday
and it helped for a while, but by Wednesday,
it was almost as bad again as it had been last Friday.
It was infuriating and I was both entertaining and alarming my neighbors
with my cursing.
Today was the last day of a very busy sprint for me
and at last I had the time to dig into it.
I opened up the case and took a look at both video cards—I have two dual-head cards connected to three monitors—and one of them had partially blown capacitors like those in the picture.
I removed the bad card and did some graphics-intensive things for an hour,
and the other card behaved flawlessly.
Oddly, until someone mentioned that it might be a hardware problem yesterday,
it didn't occur to me, even though a video card blew in this machine last year.
I came in one morning to find a black monitor, and when I pulled out that card,
I found that some of the capacitors had popped right open with stuffing protruding.
On general principles, I had been meaning to repave this machine for a while.
I've had it since December 2007
and it was still running the original installation of Vista.
I booted from a DVD, reformatted my C: drive, and installed Windows 7 x64 RC1.
I finally have a 64-bit OS as my primary Windows desktop,
so I'll actually be using the Win64 build of Vim that I maintain.
My first impressions of Windows 7 on this machine are very favorable,
but there's plenty more that I need to install
before the machine has everything that I need.
This morning, the video adapters on my Vista dev box were resetting
2–3 times per minute.
After a pile of Windows Updates landed on my machine at 3am yesterday,
it would occasionally freeze solid for a few seconds.
Once in a while, all the monitors would go black briefly, then restore.
Each time, I would see a status update pop up from the system tray,
"Display driver nvlddmkm stopped responding and has successfully recovered."
This was irritating enough that I downloaded the latest NVidia drivers this morning,
That really screwed me.
The video adapters started resetting 2–3 times per minute,
rendering the machine almost unusable.
I have two video adapters, NVidia GeForce 8600 GT and NVidia GeForce 7600 GT.
The eventlog was full of Event ID 4101 - Display Driver Timeout Detection and Recovery.
I reverted to the 178.24 drivers and that helped.
When I'm not touching the machine,
the adapters only get reset every few minutes instead of several times a minute.
When I am using it, something as simple as clicking a window
to bring it to the foreground can trigger a reset.
It's very irritating but I can live with it for a little while, unlike the other.
I don't want to repave my box: apart from the time loss,
I'm not convinced that it would help if I got the same driver config all over again.
I contacted a friend at Microsoft who tried to hook me up with a driver guy,
who is unfortunately out of office.
I'm hoping that it can be fixed early next week
or my temper is going to fray rapidly.
Update: June 19th: See When Video Cards Go Bad.