General system specs (can get more specific info later if required):
Dell e521 desktop (many upgraded components)
OS: Vista 32
GPU: eVGA Nvidia 8800 GT
Ram: 4 gigs
CPU: Athlon 6000+
PSU: 450+ Watts
Monitor: 26" Samsung LCD
I've done quite a bit of research on this over the course of last night and this morning, with no clear resolution. There are literally hundreds of posts out there regarding this issue and just as many possible solutions. My problem does seem to be a bit unique and many of those resources are from 2006-2008, so I'm posting to see if anyone can help!
My system has been very stable, I've mainly been playing Modern Warfare 2 on it since it's release. No issues, no crashes.
I'm not sure if this is a precursor to the issue, but within the last week when starting MW2 the initial menu would freeze for a minute or two before becoming active, this is a new development and has never happened before.
The other day I was doing some general maintenance, I began Adaware and then left the machine to do it's thing. When I came back the screen has the stock Aurora screensaver which is stuck motionless and has horizontal line artifacts. I have had no recent hardware or software changes (automatic updates are off), though I believe MW2 had a patch installed last week.
I don't think much of it and reboot. Upon starting the OS in normal mode I get a blue screen and the dreaded nvlddmkm.sys error.
I've been able to get in the OS in safe mode, which shows a lot of horizontal line and random artifacting. I've tried uninstalling and reinstalling the drivers, and have also tried a roll back with no success. I've also run startup repair a dozen or so times.
I've read thread after thread regarding this, with solution suggestions ranging from sound card to PSU, unbelievable! People have reformatted, replaced ram, GPU... to no avail. The most common solution is to disable a bunch of services and do a driver sweep and install the latest drivers. There is also a solution which involves uninstalling two Windows Vista hot fixes, which I was able to uninstall when I had gotten in in safe mode.
My MAIN problem at this point is the following:
1) Blue screen when starting normally, obviously
2) Upon hitting F12 on startup I get two options, Startup Repair and Normal... I no longer am seeing an option for safe mode!
I have read only of people having game crashing problems, not problems JUST GETTING INTO THE OS!
I've downloaded Drive Sweeper and the latest Nvidia drivers to an external HD, but without getting in the OS in safe mode I have no idea how to proceed.
At one point, probably after a startup repair or just random poking around, the system rebooted and ran fine.
It was stable for 2 days and I played MW2 for an hour or two with no issues.
I thought the problem was solved and windows repaired the issue.
The system was hibernating all night and then I used it yesterday evening. I finished what I was doing, came back a couple hours later and turned on the monitor only to see the problem had returned.
So, it was fixed for nearly 24 hours, which leads me to believe it's a driver issue and not just the card being fried. I do leave the fan on pretty low unless I'm starting a game, perhaps the Aurora screensaver is too much for it to handle and is part of the problem.
Any help or advice on how to proceed would be very appreciated.
It is a valid question and was my first thought, but after doing some simple searches on "nvlddmkm.sys error" you'll come across hundreds of people and no easy solution or even any consistent specifics on what causes the error and what fixes it.
It is generally caused by a Vista / Nvidia conflict, but what spurs it to occur is a mystery going back as far as the posts I see in 2006.
Many people have replaced all the components in their machine, one by one, and end up with basically a new machine with the same damn issue.
If I could be certain that buying a new card would fix my problem, that would be awesome. But it's just as likely to be caused by decreasing output in my PSU and a host of other errors.
I'll fiddle with drivers and such before I start replacing parts, my main issue is that I can't get into Vista in safe mode to even start doing the next things on my list.
Feel free to check out the causes and solutions on this list, nearly mind boggling this problem has not been addressed and solved:
I should add that one of the main reasons I do not believe it has to do with the GPU itself is because I did have the machine up and stable for 24 hours+ and playing MW2 on high settings with no issues. I would think if the GPU was the issue it would've died under that kind of stress.
If I make any progress I will post an update to hopefully help others in the future. It's amazing the amount of people out there that are having this issue and are basically hopeless on a solution.
I have exactly the same problem with 8800gt and vista 32 bit. It happend first time a week ago when i was playing mass effect. First time i got the blue screen but was able to log in to windows, second time i got the blue screen when trying to log in. Ive tried everything surly and jrv have and my probem seems exactly the same. Blue screen as soon as i try to log in to my profile and cant get to safe mode. Also im not able to get to bios or anywhere. F12 works but i cant choose any options because my keyboard doesnt seem to be responging after that. Im now using my old video card which is a geforce 6200 turbocache and it works fine with any drivers.
If i uninstall the nvidia drivers and phyx using the windows uninstaller thing i can get to os with 8800 gt but as soon as i try installing any drivers (windows default or nvidia) and reboot i get the blue screen and nvlddmkm.sys as soon as i try to log in. This is what ive tried so far:
Using a different set of ram
Creating a new nvlddmkm.sys file
Uninstalled and installed pretty much every nvidia driver
Altered reset times
Using windows hotfixes
And probably something else i cant remember right now
I dont see how that could work but its worth a try. Might be a stupid question but how do i tell which are nvidia files and which arent? The ones beginning with n have something to do with nvidia drivers?
, yeah pretty much, if you switch to 'list view' (and make sure you can view hidden and system files of course) navigate to the N's and delete all the files that start with nvxxx.xx, there are a couple of microsoft files that look similar so check each files 'properties' first and only delete the ones from Nvidia corp.
Oh well, deleting the reg entries via regedit and then re installing the driver again is the only other way to rule out a corrupted driver install corrupting subsequent installs but that's not for the faint hearted. What make and model is your PSU by the way? I'm not saying it's the cause of problem but I've always used 600+ watt units with 8800GT's and I've never had this issue.