On my PC, I do not believe this error has anything to do with my GPU, video drivers, PSU etc. I think it is a general catch-all error and this is how Windows 7 reacts.
When this error occurs, the system becomes very unresponsive, the screen may go black, only the foreground application might be visible etc. It might take 5 minutes to get to the Shut-Down button because the system is unresponsive. Regardless of the message, my system never really recovers until a reboot. Besides seeing the ATIKMDAG message in the corner of the screen, it shows up in the event logs as a Display Adapter Warning.
I have played @ 5 hours of games on the PC. The most resource intensive game would be STALKER, max settings, 1900 x 1220. I have not had a single ATIKMDAG while playing games.
The ATIKMDAG errors at times when the system is not stressed. The first time happened when I changed the EAX sound settings in Bioshock. I wasn't playing the game yet, just tinkering with the settings. The next time happened when I was watching a clip on ComedyCentral.com ... I watched the clip for a couple of minutes, when i switched it to full screen, the error occurred. I could not reproduce the error though in either situation.
Eventually, I found a situation that would reliably reproduce the ATIKMDAG error.
I have to use the browser Opera to access a poorly written Web/java thingy. This web app will not work with FireFox or IE8 with Windows 7. This web app has minimal graphics. Going to one certain process would reliably reproduce the error on command.
At that point, I staring looking for solutions and tried the msconfig/boot listed below. After making that change and rebooting, I again tried the web/java process that was causing the error. The system became very unresponsive, but the ATIKMDAG message did NOT appear. It took several minutes to get to the shut down button. This time, the event logs did not have a Display Adapter Warning. Instead, it had an application error: Opera was not getting along with a FoxIt ( pdf reader ) plug-in. I went back to the earlier logs (prior to the msconfig/boot fix) and confirmed the Opera error did not occur when I was having the ATIKMDAG error.
I then uninstalled FoxIt and rebooted. So far, trying that specific process in Opera has worked every time without either error occurring or being reported in the event logs.
When something isn't getting along with something else, Windows 7 craps out and says it must be the Display Adapter, lets just reset it and see what happens. The actual error never gets addressed nor does it show up in the logs.
When I have time, I will undo the msconfig/boot changes and experiment more.
MemTest 4.0 completed all test successfully
1. Run MSCONFIG in a command prompt.
2. Click the BOOT tab
3. Click on ADVANCED options.
4. Put a CHECK in 'Number of Processors", and then select the number of processors your system has. , 1 for a single, 2 for a dual core, 4 for a quad.
5. Put a CHECK in 'Maximum memory", and key in amount of RAM you have.
6. CLick OK, Click APPLY, and re-boot when prompted.
As unfortunate as it may be fore you to face computers to not work the way you are describing. TDR goes off because teh GPU fails, period. This may be due to any number of reasons, from the PSU, to the MB, to the RAM, to even software and drivers, etc.. But the error triggers because the GPU times out.
All of the msconfig changes do nothing, unless you set them to lower numbers than you have. Setting them to the max is default. It has been reported that TDR goes off less if you set the CPU # to one.. but that is kind of silly and there are a billion reasons that could happen, none of which are worth quartering performance.
Aero is a common issues as well, without it you are not using the GPU much at all during browsing. With it on windows seven uses a lot of things, including the video memory for storing window data. Turning it off reduces strain on the GPU so an all out crash of the card may not happen when it used to.
The fact is your card is probably faulty.. though it could be a software glitch as TDR is known to break.
Playing a game, while certainly harder on the card, is not the only thing that can be broken in a card. With idle voltage drops in most cards other aspects could be broken that only show up in power saving mode.
Thank you for the suggestions. I am fortunate this error is infrequent on my PC. Since my last post on 12th, the error has occurred three other times. Once while using Opera and twice while playing Jade Empire.
Since the third occurrence, I have tried to disable TDR in the registry. It may take several days for the problem to show itself.