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Geforce GT 540M / Optimus won't work

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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July 28, 2012 9:01:11 AM

Hi this should probably have been posted at the Nvidia forums, but it is out of sercive because it was hacked or somesuch. I also posted in the Laptop subforum - perhaps I should have chosen the Nvidia one? I was just thinking posting here would save me the mandatory "you shouldn't use a laptop for gaming" spam posts. I have tried to be somewhat detailed, so please bear with me.

I have an i5 2.3 GHz laptop with a Geforce GT 540M graphics adapter. This adapter is built with the "Optimus" function, which lets it switch between the Geforce adapter for 3D rendering etc. and the onboard Intel HD 3000 for lighter tasks (like Aero etc.) to optimize power consumption.

I am on Windows 7, and I have the latest set of Nvidia drivers installed (301.42).

Recently I have found out that my laptop solely uses the Intel HD 3000. I am going to use Skyrim as an example because it gives you a lot of easily accessible output, but I mostly play older games so I hadn't noticed this change.

First off, I have tried adding the skyrim, skyrim launcher and the skse (a script extender for mods) executable to the "whitelist" in the Nvidia control panel, and I have also tried setting the Geforce as the prefered graphics adapter under Global Settings. Also tried using the contextual menu (right clicking on the executable and selecting "run with Geforce GT 540M"). None of it changed anything the slightest.

When I load up the Skyrim Launcher it automatically detects my Intel HD, no matter what settings I have chosen in the Nvidia Control Panel - I seem to recall in the past having to use the Geforce as the prefered graphics adapter under Global Settings for Skyrim to recognize it, but that won't work anymore. I also seem to recall that hovering over the Nvidia icon in the task manager would show what programs are actively using the Nvidia GPU, and it would show that the Nvidia GPU kicked in if I ran a video with VLC or watched youtube. Now it constantly shows that 0 processes are running using the GPU no matter what I do.

I searched on the interweb and one guy said to change a line of text in Skyrim.ini and Skyrimprefs, substituting this:

Quote:
sD3DDevice="Intel(R) HD Graphics Family"

for this:

Quote:
sD3DDevice="Nvidia GeForce GT 540M"


I did that, but still get the same choppy framerate when running the skyrim or skse executable, and as soon as I start the Skyrim launcher it reverts it to the Intel HD in the ini files by itself.

Skyrim also makes a text file output with information about the renderer after running the game. When I messed with all the different combinations of settings I deleted this file each time, and each time I ran skyrim it generated this text file with information about the Intel HD. So it's safe to say that contrary to what Nvidia Control Panel settings is saying, Skyrim now uses the Intel HD solely.

Thing is, it wasn't always like this - I have noticed a bit of a performance drop (as I said I mostly play old and not so gpu-intensive games) lately, but I thouht that was just because Windows was getting cluttered up. When I take a look at the skyrimprefs.ini I used previously when the game ran fine, even the one I tweaked for performance, it had medium-ish settings, with DoF, Radial Blur and HDR lighting switched on. Now I run it on the lowest of low settings, and still get bad framerates.

I found other "solutions" on the net, one of which was to deactive the Intel HD and remove the Geforce in the device manager, restart and then reinstall the Geforce drivers (while keeping the Intel HD deactivated). All that resulted in was a messed up desktop (another article said that no matter what, the Intel HD will ALWAYS control the desktop/aero) with low resolutions that don't fit my 16:9 screen.

So I hope someone has experience with this and can help me out. Thanks.

P.S. Dxdiag also shows the Intel HD no matter what I do (except for when I deactivate the Intel HD in device manager - then it shows "Generic VGA adapter" or something along those lines).
July 28, 2012 9:06:11 AM

ALSO: I looked in the BIOS but no relevant options were available there.
July 28, 2012 11:14:43 AM

Update: I tried to:

1. Remove all Nvidia drivers and install a previous version (296.10). No luck.
2. Update from that to the newest version. No luck.
3. Remove all Nvidia drivers again, and install the drivers from my laptop manufacturer's homepage. No luck.
4. Updating from that set of drivers to the newest set of drivers. No luck.

The Nvidia control panel keeps saying that the Geforce GPU is set as default, yet everything else (dxdiag + all the games I tried out) still disagrees with that.

It's annoying that something that seems like some sort of software glitch effectively renders my graphics adapter (which I paid extra for back when I got the laptop) 100% useless.
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August 13, 2012 10:28:24 AM

same problem here!
i'm thinking of a hardware failure
August 17, 2012 1:31:28 PM

Me too, but how do I confirm that it is a hardware failure for sure? Windows 7 makes absolutely no mention of any issues, and everything looks fine and dandy except that the GPU is NEVER active.
a b Î Nvidia
a c 450 D Laptop
August 17, 2012 4:23:13 PM

Yeah, unfortunately this is a known issue nVidia Optimus. It does not seem to affect a lot of people, but enough that there many complaints.

I just started to experience this on my Lenovo IdeaPad Y470. The only thing that fixed the issue was reinstalling Windows 7 from scratch. I recommend you do that and test if your nVidia 540 GT will work afterwards. If it does then update Windows 7 and install any programs that you generally use. Once your laptop has been fully setup to your liking you should make an image of your C: drive. This will serve as a baseline configuration for your laptop so if Windows becomes corrupted, the GT 540m stops working or you simply want a clean install, then you have a image of the C: drive already which will save you several hours of various software installation.

I am guessing your laptop should have some type of backup software that allows you to create an image of the C: drive and save it to a separate partition, or allows you to create a bootable image to be burnt onto DVDs.

Before creating an image I install Avast! Free, Malwarebtyes and Spybot and do a full system scan.
August 18, 2012 6:18:17 AM

Have you tried tweaking with the settings on NVIDIA Control Panel? (right click desktop -> NVIDIA Control Panel)

On the "Manage 3D Settings" section, under the "Program Settings" tab, you can choose a program and set which GPU will it use.
a b Î Nvidia
a c 450 D Laptop
August 18, 2012 4:32:35 PM

^^

Nah, usually when something like this happens Windows 7 fails to completely recognize the Nvidia GPU. Uninstalling / reinstalling the drivers doesn't even work. For me, a complete reinstall of Win 7 seems to be the only way to resolve the problem.

Hopefully this is just a small hic-up with the nVidia GPUs. Otherwise, I'll need to make use of the extended warranty on my Lenovo Y470.
May 23, 2013 2:17:33 PM

jaguarskx said:
Yeah, unfortunately this is a known issue nVidia Optimus. It does not seem to affect a lot of people, but enough that there many complaints.

I just started to experience this on my Lenovo IdeaPad Y470. The only thing that fixed the issue was reinstalling Windows 7 from scratch. I recommend you do that and test if your nVidia 540 GT will work afterwards. If it does then update Windows 7 and install any programs that you generally use. Once your laptop has been fully setup to your liking you should make an image of your C: drive. This will serve as a baseline configuration for your laptop so if Windows becomes corrupted, the GT 540m stops working or you simply want a clean install, then you have a image of the C: drive already which will save you several hours of various software installation.

I am guessing your laptop should have some type of backup software that allows you to create an image of the C: drive and save it to a separate partition, or allows you to create a bootable image to be burnt onto DVDs.

Before creating an image I install Avast! Free, Malwarebtyes and Spybot and do a full system scan.






@jaguarskx: which version of windows did u re-install?
I just re-installed windows professional x64 (along with all the drivers) but the problem persists...... :( 
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hiii pink27 i know whats your prolem and there is a very simple solution for that on your desktop right click and click on screen resolution a window will open with 3 opting the third one is orientation in that there are four options... See full content
a b Î Nvidia
a c 450 D Laptop
May 23, 2013 5:29:38 PM

I have win 7 home premium.

It happened to me again, lasted September / October. I didn't make a big fuss about it since by that time I stopped playing games on my laptop because I just didn't have time to play and I didn't bother trying to re-install from a backed up image.

I inadvertently fixed the issue when I decided to install Intel's latest HD 3000 drivers back in Janaury or February. I guess there is just some type of bad mojo between Win 7, Intel graphic drivers and nVidia graphic drivers. Yay!! My GT 550m works again!!! Too bad I don't have time to play games often.
September 21, 2013 4:46:28 AM

I have same problem, but I got the solution that just run your program with "Run as Administrator" and the program will detects Nvidia's GPU again.
September 29, 2013 5:35:19 PM

hi.
i have the exact same problem... anyone has find a solution?
a b Î Nvidia
a c 450 D Laptop
September 29, 2013 7:46:36 PM

Well, I'm am now thinking about sending in my Y470 for repairs under warranty. I paid the extra $100 or so for a 3 year warranty... so I might as well use it...
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