Friday, August 7, 2015

A Beautiful Game I Can't Play

My computer is suffering repeated blue screens of death, so I've been without a computer for the past three days.  Fear not, though.  I do have a few posts queued up in the coming days.  While I can't post or play, I can write.

But I wanted to share my troubles in case anyone else experiences a similar issue.

I have a GT70 MSI Laptop, purchased a little more than two years ago.  This laptop comes with two graphics cards, an integrated Intel card and an NVIDIA GeForce 670 card.  Starting about four months ago, I started experiencing intermittent hard freezes (mouse doesn't move, keys don't work, nothing functions) when playing Eve.  The only way to resolve it was to pull the battery and restart.

Originally, this would happen when I had multiple clients open.  However, it started happening with one client, and then the Windows Aero effects would cause problems on their own.

Core temperature wasn't the cause... it would happen at 35 Celsius shortly after starting up.  After restarting, I could normally do basic Internet and application functions without a problem.  A test of the hardware confirmed that there weren't any issues, so it's not like the motherboard or graphics card itself was the problem.

When I performed a Windows stress test, it suffered the hard freeze when it started the DirectX 3D graphics text.  A GPU stress test failed after only a couple seconds.  Just a couple days ago, I was able to intentionally create the problem by opening up Eve and quickly spinning my ship back and forth.  3D rendering was definitely the issue.

And after a long series of issues and two trips to the tech, I found the cause.  Apparently, laptops with dual graphics cards have started suffering problems during the 3D switchover.  By default, all functions begin on the integrated graphics card, then switch over to the performance card (like my GeForce 670) as a backup.  But as drivers have been updated recently, this handover has become increasingly unstable across a range of laptop brands.

The solution seems to be to set your performance graphics card to be the primary 3D rendering card.  By doing so, my integrated graphics card doesn't even try to render 3D at all; all functions reside solely with my GeForce 670 card.  This doesn't fix the handoff, but rather avoids it entirely.

Whereas the GPU stress tests failed in two seconds before, now they've been running for an hour and a half without issue.  So, there's that.  If you're suffering a similar problem, this might be the issue.  I couldn't find much about this problem on the Internet, and I figured someone might catch this post and it'll help.

There's an interesting lesson in all this.  I'll still be out one more day because my power adapter died out and the replacement won't arrive until tomorrow, and you never realize how addicted you really are to a thing until you can't use it.  For all I debate points where the game could be better, it's still the best gaming option available, and I do still really love it.  If I doubted it in the past, it's pretty clear my frustrations still stem from a place of love.  This game can be maddening, but it's those frustrations that really make it shine.

Hell, even when I can't play Eve, I can learn a thing or two about why I love it.  That's pretty awesome.


  1. 1. Absence make the heart grow fonder...
    2. Familiarity breeds contempt...

    Both are equally true in EVE... =]

  2. Holy crap, I'll have to try this, I have a MSI GT60 that's having the same issue