Nvidia driver causes system to freeze or crash - Read


Updated: November 9, 2013; November 29, 2013

All right, the problem - or a series of problems - you're facing right now is as follows. You have a computer with Windows 7/8 installed. Your hardware includes one or more Nvidia graphics cards. Like the good chap you are, you periodically update your graphics drivers. However, going above a certain version causes your system to periodically hang, freeze, BSOD, blackscreen, or crash. This happens while gaming or browsing. What now?

This article will educate you on the problems as well as provide several useful solutions and tricks that should help you workaround the issues until Nvidia releases an official patch that truly fixes the stuff in their own drivers. Do read.

Problem #1

So you have just updated your Nvidia driver. And now you're seeing all kinds of weird things. For instance, an innocent usage of Google Maps, or any hardware-accelerated application, causes the mouse cursor to hang for a few seconds, then resume moving. Or maybe the browser and the whole system hangs indefinitely. Or the system crashes. The only thing in common is that you probably have one of the 460-560 family cards and that the problem occurs with Nvidia driver version above 314.22.

New, bad driver

You're not alone. This seems to be a very serious problem with Nvidia drivers, and if you read the whole thread linked earlier, you will see just how big it is. Don't mind the technical bits and pieces too much. Just remember that you need not question or your setup, or start wondering if there's something wrong with your hardware, software setup, browsers, security, or anything alike. Not your fault. One more worthy resource right there. Now, let's try to analyze this in more depth.

One of the symptoms to this fiasco is the following kind of Event Viewer messages that you may see on your machine. It will read something like the following text, taken from the system log.

The description for Event ID 14 from source nvlddmkm cannot be found. Either the component that raises this event is not installed on your local computer or the installation is corrupted. You can install or repair the component on the local computer.

If the event originated on another computer, the display information had to be saved with the event.

The following information was included with the event:

\Device\Video5
!051d(2528)

And if you're specially lucky, you may get a BSOD. Now, analyzing these sounds like black magic, but if you consult my tutorial on the subject, then you will be able to find your way around the kernel stack. Anyhow, the trace will look something like:

==================================================
Filename          : dxgkrnl.sys
Address In Stack  : dxgkrnl.sys+5d054
From Address      : fffff880`034db000
To Address        : fffff880`035cf000
Size              : 0x000f4000
Time Stamp        : 0x5164dc49
Time String       : 4/10/2013 5:28:09 AM
Product Name      : Microsoft® Windows® Operating System
File Description  : DirectX Graphics Kernel
File Version      : 6.1.7601.18228 (win7sp1_gdr.130731-2222)
Company           : Microsoft Corporation
Full Path         : C:\Windows\system32\drivers\dxgkrnl.sys
==================================================

==================================================
Filename          : dxgmms1.sys
Address In Stack  : dxgmms1.sys+ff13
From Address      : fffff880`03400000
To Address        : fffff880`03446000
Size              : 0x00046000
Time Stamp        : 0x5164dc13
Time String       : 4/10/2013 5:27:15 AM
Product Name      : Microsoft® Windows® Operating System
File Description  : DirectX Graphics MMS
File Version      : 6.1.7601.18126 (win7sp1_gdr.130409-1534)
Company           : Microsoft Corporation
Full Path         : C:\Windows\system32\drivers\dxgmms1.sys
==================================================

==================================================
Filename          : ntoskrnl.exe
Address In Stack  : ntoskrnl.exe+313bae
From Address      : fffff800`0301e000
To Address        : fffff800`03604000
Size              : 0x005e6000
Time Stamp        : 0x51fb06cd
Time String       : 8/2/2013 3:09:33 AM
Product Name      : Microsoft® Windows® Operating System
File Description  : NT Kernel & System
File Version      : 6.1.7601.18247 (win7sp1_gdr.130828-1532)
Company           : Microsoft Corporation
Full Path         : C:\Windows\system32\ntoskrnl.exe
==================================================

==================================================
Filename          : nvlddmkm.sys
Address In Stack  : nvlddmkm.sys+14d6b4
From Address      : fffff880`05e55000
To Address        : fffff880`0694c000
Size              : 0x00af7000
Time Stamp        : 0x52314e10
Time String       : 9/12/2013 7:16:00 AM
Product Name      : NVIDIA Windows Kernel Mode Driver, Version 314.22
File Description  : NVIDIA Windows Kernel Mode Driver, Version 314.22
File Version      : 9.18.13.1422
Company           : NVIDIA Corporation
Full Path         : C:\Windows\system32\drivers\nvlddmkm.sys
==================================================

Moreover, the bug check code is 0x00000116, and if you consult the MSDN stuff, then you will realize this corresponds to Video TDR error, meaning an attempt to reset the display driver and recover from a timeout has failed.

Still moreover, if you looking at the minidump summary, then consult the four parameters from the bug check code. The second parameter is a pointer into the responsible driver module.

==================================================
Dump File         : 101513-21044-01.dmp
Crash Time        : 10/15/2013 9:59:22 PM
Bug Check String  :
Bug Check Code    : 0x00000116
Parameter 1       : fffffa80`1e88a4e0
Parameter 2       : fffff880`05fa26b4
Parameter 3       : ffffffff`c00000b5
Parameter 4       : 00000000`0000000a
Caused By Driver  : dxgkrnl.sys
Caused By Address : dxgkrnl.sys+5d054
File Description  : DirectX Graphics Kernel
Product Name      : Microsoft® Windows® Operating System
Company           : Microsoft Corporation
File Version      : 6.1.7601.18228 (win7sp1_gdr.130731-2222)
Processor         : x64
Crash Address     : ntoskrnl.exe+75b80
Stack Address 1   :
Stack Address 2   :
Stack Address 3   :
Computer Name     :
Full Path         : C:\Windows\Minidump\101513-21044-01.dmp
Processors Count  : 4
Major Version     : 15
Minor Version     : 7601
Dump File Size    : 318,256
Dump File Time    : 10/15/2013 10:01:29 PM
==================================================

And the address fffff880`05fa26b4 falls within the range of the Nvidia driver:

Filename          : nvlddmkm.sys
Address In Stack  : nvlddmkm.sys+14d6b4
From Address      : fffff880`05e55000
To Address        : fffff880`0694c000

So we know that Nvidia is at fault.

Solution to problem #1

Since we do not have Nvidia source code, we cannot really figure out what happened in the driver, but maybe this information can help them figure it out. What we want to do is work around the problem for the time being. And there's only one thing that works for certain, and that is reverting to driver 314.22, the last known stable version. Older versions will also do.

Therefore, please roll back the driver if you can. If not, uninstall it, reboot, then install the new version. If you are using system imaging, which you should before any large update, then you might want to simply revert to an older stable image. In my case, I decided to play with the driver only, to make sure it is the single component that changes.

Roll back driver

And with driver 314.22 in place, all is golden once more. Maybe a slightly reduced framerate in some of the games, but that's a reasonable price to pay until this thing gets fixed.

Good driver

Possible issues with older drivers (prior to 314.22)

This is a very narrow use case, but you may want to read, anyway. Well, some of you may encounter a few new problems with older drivers. You may notice that Youtube videos kind of hang, and that the browser hardly responds, most notably Firefox. This sounds related to Nvidia once more, and you will see why. Let's consult the Event Viewer:

Faulting application name: plugin-container.exe, version: 24.0.0.5001, time stamp: 0x522fd228
Faulting module name: EMET.DLL, version: 4.0.0.0, time stamp: 0x51ba563b
Exception code: 0xc0000005
Fault offset: 0x0004ef31
Faulting process id: 0x1f88
Faulting application start time: 0x01ced7ad99837c8f
Faulting application path: C:\Program Files (x86)\Mozilla Firefox\plugin-container.exe
Faulting module path: C:\Windows\AppPatch\EMET.DLL
Report Id: d719b42c-43a3-11e3-814b-f46c04e6ae46

It seems there's a problem with plugin-container.exe, which is launched by firefox.exe. And you may assume that it is Microsoft EMET causing the problem, because the browser is running through EMET. Aha! But no, this is a false positive.

However, let's remember another tutorial we had not that long ago. About Flash being slow and choppy. Under these same circumstances, we fixed the issue by disabling the protected mode in the Flash Player. Remember:

Likewise here, if nothing has changed in your setup except the graphics driver, and new problems come up, then you should blame the driver and not other things. Think about it. EMET is irrelevant here, because it was in use with other versions of Nvidia drivers, and there were no problems. Likewise, if you have already disabled the protected mode for the Flash, then it can't be that, either, can it? So we go back to Nvidia.

Nvidia 3D Vision plugins

Indeed, let's do something wild. Call it an educated guess. Let's disable the 3D Vision plugins provided by Nvidia as browser enhancements, which allow you to watch 3D content with the right hardware. If you de-activate these plugins and restart the browser, you will have normal, smooth Flash playback once again. Disabling the streaming service is good enough.

3D Vision plugin

I can confirm that this only happens prior to 314.22 and that this latest stable driver has no compatibility problems, and you can keep the plugins activated if you want. But you may want to consider disabling them, if you have no use for them. You can also disable the relevant services, too.

Slow loading of the browser

This is a second symptom that may affect your browser, most likely Firefox. If you happen to have disabled the Nvidia 3D and streaming related services earlier since you kind of not need them, then suddenly, the loading times of your browser may be affected. In that case, reactivate and confirm. You will most likely see the slow loading vanish. Turning hardware acceleration on/off should not bear any effect.

Services

Problem #2

The second issue occurred on my gaming rig with the GTX 570 card, with a range of drivers, including 314.22. At first, I assumed the problem was just related to ArmA 3, the most awesome game I have been seriously pimping lately, but I also had Serious Sam crash, too, a game that used to run perfectly in the past. This way, you know the driver vendor screwed up, and no mistake.

Exploding alien

All right, let's see what we have here:

==================================================
Filename          : dxgkrnl.sys
Address In Stack  : dxgkrnl.sys+5d054
From Address      : fffff880`082d3000
To Address        : fffff880`083c7000
Size              : 0x000f4000
Time Stamp        : 0x5164dc49
Time String       : 4/10/2013 5:28:09 AM
Product Name      : Microsoft® Windows® Operating System
File Description  : DirectX Graphics Kernel
File Version      : 6.1.7601.18126 (win7sp1_gdr.130409-1534)
Company           : Microsoft Corporation
Full Path         : C:\Windows\system32\drivers\dxgkrnl.sys
==================================================

==================================================
Filename          : dxgmms1.sys
Address In Stack  : dxgmms1.sys+37f3c
From Address      : fffff880`07588000
To Address        : fffff880`075ce000
Size              : 0x00046000
Time Stamp        : 0x5164dc13
Time String       : 4/10/2013 5:27:15 AM
Product Name      : Microsoft® Windows® Operating System
File Description  : DirectX Graphics MMS
File Version      : 6.1.7601.18126 (win7sp1_gdr.130409-1534)
Company           : Microsoft Corporation
Full Path         : C:\Windows\system32\drivers\dxgmms1.sys
==================================================

==================================================
Filename          : nvlddmkm.sys
Address In Stack  : nvlddmkm.sys+9336ac
From Address      : fffff880`07828000
To Address        : fffff880`082d3000
Size              : 0x00aab000
Time Stamp        : 0x51427b3c
Time String       : 3/15/2013 3:37:00 AM
Product Name      : NVIDIA Windows Kernel Mode Driver, Version 314.22
File Description  : NVIDIA Windows Kernel Mode Driver, Version 314.22
File Version      : 9.18.13.1422
Company           : NVIDIA Corporation
Full Path         : C:\Windows\system32\drivers\nvlddmkm.sys
==================================================

Once again, you must fault Nvidia:

==================================================
Dump File         : 110213-16879-01.dmp
Crash Time        : 11/2/2013 8:40:58 PM
Bug Check String  :
Bug Check Code    : 0x00000116
Parameter 1       : fffffa80`11ec4010
Parameter 2       : fffff880`0815b6ac
Parameter 3       : ffffffff`c000009a
Parameter 4       : 00000000`00000004
Caused By Driver  : dxgkrnl.sys
Caused By Address : dxgkrnl.sys+5d054
File Description  : DirectX Graphics Kernel
Product Name      : Microsoft® Windows® Operating System
Company           : Microsoft Corporation
File Version      : 6.1.7601.18126 (win7sp1_gdr.130409-1534)
Processor         : x64
Crash Address     : ntoskrnl.exe+75b80
Stack Address 1   :
Stack Address 2   :
Stack Address 3   :
Computer Name     :
Full Path         : C:\Windows\Minidump\110213-16879-01.dmp
Processors Count  : 4
Major Version     : 15
Minor Version     : 7601
Dump File Size    : 508,784
Dump File Time    : 11/2/2013 8:42:44 PM
==================================================

Now, I also had a small seizure of my heart, because one of these crashes also caused my monitor to go out of sync, and the BIOS screen came blank, making me think the card has died. Luckily, unplugging the monitor sorted it out, but I bloody hate software developers and I hate how so many bad things go wrong in such a short time.

Solution to problem #2

Here, updating to the latest available drivers seems to work. I must disclaim my findings, because hardware and software setups are ever so slightly different, although I try very hard to keep everything pristine, vanilla and tight.

Anyhow, driver 331.65 seems to resolve the crashes in the new games, but I wonder why they have been introduced in the first place, and why can't there be a safety mechanism against moronic coding. Crash the game, don't crash the system. And don't tell me it's not doable, it's doable, just requires far more effort in making the right environment and much stricter runtime restrictions. But then, the game vendors might balk, right.

However, this is a Catch 22 situation. If you have a 460/560 family of cards, you cannot go above 314.22, and with 314.22 your games will cause crashes. So you're kind of stuck deciding what to do. Maybe update, disable hardware acceleration in the browser, and hope for the best. Silly, I know, but that's the reality.

Side effects

Once again, disabling the Nvidia streaming services might cause the browser loading lag. Changing the hardware acceleration state should not change the browser loading, but it might affect overall response, which is something we will talk about in the future.

Conclusion

This is a very tricky article, I must say, and it's probably fairly advanced, but you should trust me on this one. It is very unfortunate that Nvidia screwed up so badly on this one, but it can sometimes happen. Drivers are drivers. You have two solutions right here, depending on what card you have. For the 460/560 family, your best bet is good system imaging and/or rolling back to driver 314.22, which works well. For the 570 family and such, using the latest driver seems to fix the crashes. At least for me.

Furthermore, if you experience side effects with your browsers and Flash content from the downgrade on ever older versions of the graphics driver, please consider upgrading the stack to 314.22, or disabling the browser plugins. Slow loading times, Nvidia services. And please remember, one change at a time, always, so don't go wild chasing everything. The EMET false lead from earlier is an excellent example of how you can easily get lost without thinking. But it's a simple thing really. The graphic driver has changed, and now you have problems. There you go. Hopefully, this will save some of you some bacon. Enjoy.

Updates, November 29

Well, more bad news. After using the 331.65 drivers for a while, the crashes returned while gaming. Bravely, I updated the drivers to 331.82 edition, and the crashes only intensified. At one point, either Windows or the resident Kubuntu on my gaming rig would come up with a black screen. Then, the UPS would start beeping and power off the computer, probably due to voltage problems.

At this point, I thought the graphics card was fried, so I thought about removing it, and using the internal Intel graphics. Lo and behold, removing the card from the slot and reseating it in the PCI-E slot helped reset the device. I was able to log back into the desktop.

I decided to do something drastic at this point. I reverted the drivers all the way back to 311.06, a set of drivers delivered by Windows updates around March 2013. No 3D, no Shield, no Vision, no Streaming, no Experience bullshit. Just the pure and simple driver.

Old drivers

Everything works normally again, stable as a rock - although I still suspect there could be a hardware damage caused by the ultra shitty drivers - but so far, it did not come to bear in any way. All the games run smoothly, without any stalls or stuttering. Another indication that Nvidia truly screwed up is the examination of the graphics card readings using a cushty little utility like GPU-Z.

What you see here is quite interesting. Comparing to the shitty drivers released recently, the temperatures are lower by about 10-15 degrees at all times. Moreover, the frequency of the GPU Memory clock and the shaders has changed. With 331.82, the clock was lowered to 850MHz for both. With the excellent old drivers, 311.06 in my case, the relevant GPU clocks are 950MHz and 1480MHz, respectively. This also tells you that something is really wrong with Nvidia drivers, and that there could be a real physical damage to my card, and many other cards, caused by voltage and temperature spikes. Not that you get any guarantee, as the EULA says. Your problem.

GPU-Z readings

You may say, aha, hardware problems. No. Don't be oligophrens. I have two almost identical desktops, and after drivers updates, things start going bad on both, right? BSOD reports that point straight at Nvidia? Yes, it's not my problem, and it's not hardware, which worked perfectly until I foolishly updated the drivers. And just so you know, in some fourteen years of usage, I never had graphics card related issues.

There were two BSOD in 2008, on two other desktops, on the same day, caused by overheating. That's it. Stock, vanilla systems, no modifications, no stupid tweaking or changes. A perfect 24/7 record for years upon years until a month and a half back, and then, all hell breaks loose. That's a good indication that we're dealing with driver problems and nothing else. You can take a look at my Event Log, after going back to 311.06. Past four or five days, and soon, it will be a perfect record once again, and I can go back to 60-70 days uptime.

No more errors

But I've made a decision. My next graphics card is most likely NOT going to be Nvidia. I've reached a point where I fear running games, and my mind is troubled by the inconvenience caused to me by these crappy drivers. My peace of mind, my perfect setup have been violated.

I've been a loyal user of Nvidia since 1999, with GeForce 2 and such. I have probably spent at least USD2,500 on different graphics cards over the last decade. So extrapolate over the next four or five decades, how much more money I could have spent on Nvidia. But no more. I've had enough.

I'm not a lab rat. Want to torture my systems? Pay me. Apologize, send me free spare graphics cards, and then I will gladly test your drivers in any which configuration you want, any which release. Not like this. Enough. So many crashes, so many freezes. This is bullshit. Hopefully, this update section helps you some more. Now, I need to start exploring the alternatives. Maybe ATI drivers are no good either, and then I'm going to be left with no real choice. Maybe I'm acting out of principle rather than productivity needs, but sometimes you have to do it. I would appreciate recommendations for mid-high end cards with good drivers. And that's it.

Last but not the least dear readers, if this fine article did indeed save you some bacon, why don't you buy me some bacon as a token of appreciation?

Cheers.

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