The Dell Inspiron 8200 Saga cont.

I have a real love/hate relationship with my Dell Inspiron 8200 laptop. On the plus side, it’s powerful, convenient, and solid (ie. not cheap plastic). On the negative side, a motherboard problem was causing it to overheat (it ultimately needed a new mobo) and the video drivers provided by Dell and NVIDIA *suck*.

The drivers are old and lack many of the added features that more recent NVIDIA drivers provide. They also cause the laptop to crash 3-4 times per day. At first, the driver would go into an infinite loop. causing a BSOD. At Dell’s suggestion, I formatted the hard drive and reinstalled the OS (oh joy of joys) and also flashed the latest version of their BIOS. The crashes changed from BSODs to sudden slowdowns, where the icons on my explorer bar would start to turn black and the system would become unresponsive. 75% of the time I could hit Fn-ESC and go into standby mode. Bringing it back from standby would “fix” the crash. But 25% of the time the system would be dead. The screen would just lock up and I would need to cold boot, which is a real pleasure when you’re in the middle of coding.

So, since Dell’s tech support was useless and could provide no further help in the matter, I went to Dell’s Community Support forum and found a suggestion that seems to have “fixed” the problem. It’s been three days and the laptop has not crashed. I was directed to a web site that provided “hacked” INF files for NVIDIA’s drivers for the GeForce2Go and GeFore4Go cards. All I had to do is download a standard driver package from NVIDIA’s web site, unpack it, replace the INF with the hacked version, and then install.

At first I tried version 41.09 of their drivers, but it still locked up (albeit slightly differently – this time with the red line/blob that many people complained about on the forums). I then uninstalled 41.09 and tried an older set, 40.72. Sure enough, no crashes at 1600x1200x32. Next I’ll try 1920x1440x32 on an external monitor and see if it’s still stable.

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[Additional info]
Sure enough, after running at 1920x1440x32 for 15 minutes, it crashed. Looks like I’ll stick with 1600x1200x32 for now…

About Kevin

Kevin Jarnot is a technologist who lives just South of Boston, MA. He is currently employed as Chief Technology Officer at DebtX, a financial services technology company based in Boston.
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