Sunday, January 20, 2013

Blank screen upon entering Windows 8 desktop with GTX670 and ASRock Z68 Extreme4

Few days ago I got this same "monitor not getting signal from video card" problem, but I was managed to fix it by simply plugging the display cable in the 2nd DVI port and reverting back.

But today it happened again. This time, it would not listen to that little fix – whatever I did. It's a very long story, but if you want to know how I fixed it, head to the last paragraph. (the one starting with "Then I did something...")

So, today I woke up in the morning and turned on the PC. Oh great! No display again. Just like the last time, the monitor was getting the signal at the POST screen and at the Windows 8 boot screen. But as soon as it entered desktop (I use auto logon, so there was no need to enter the password) the monitor would go blank. It looks as if when the video driver gets loaded, something goes wrong.

The first thing that came to my mind was, it must be the darn Lucid Virtu MVP driver. I'm very angry at the bastards because they haven't released Windows 8 drivers for the original Virtu (not MVP). So I wanted to get rid of it and the only way I could do it was by login into the safemode. Up to Windows 7, all you had to do to get into safemode is hit F8 just before Windows started to boot. But with the new boot loader, it was all about luck. My success rate was about 5%. That means, to get it to work once, I had to hit the reset button like 20 times and then press Shift + F8 just before Windows 8 started booting. Most of the times Windows will go into Automatic Recovery mode because it detects multiple failed boot attempts (because of the resets), but that auto recovery mode did nothing helpful. Well, it wasn't really it's fault. The only thing I am complaining about is why cannot we just get into safemode easily. It could be motherboard specific though. These motherboards were made before even the preview version of Windows 8 was available.

Note to self: If thinking of upgrading the PC and if a new version of Windows is about to be released soon, wait still Windows comes out and then upgrade.

Anyways, after many frustrating attempts, I finally managed to get into safemode and remove the nVidia display driver 310.90), Intel display driver and Virtu MVP software. I disabled the iGPU from UEFI as well. I rebooted back into Windows the normal way and this time the display didn't go blank. But of course, it was running with the standard VGA display driver. In a few minutes, Windows Update automatically installed a driver (306.xx) and asked me to reboot. Upon reboot, the dreaded blank screen was back! ⇒ Either the driver, or Windows 8 or the graphics card was bad.

When I Googled about this issue, I found out that there were people who had problems with the driver installed via Windows Update. So I went back to safemode, removed the driver that Windows Update installed, went back to Windows then tried to install 310.90. Rebooted and I was greeted with the same blank screen. So, it cannot be the driver. It's either the OS or the graphics card.

Then I tried if the DVI port #2 on the video card would work. Whoa! It wouldn't show anything on the screen even at POST! DVI port #1 always showed something at POST. Does that mean something could be wrong with the video card? Or, is it by design, as in the first monitor should always be plugged into DVI port #1? (It’s a dumb rule if that is the case.)

So, if the graphics card has been the culprit all the time, I should be able to simply use the iGPU, right? So I switched back to the DVI port #1, went into UEFI and enabled the iGPU. Then I switched the monitor cable to DVI port on the motherboard back panel and prayed. Whoa! No display even at POST?? You got to be kidding me! How can none of them work?

Maybe the UEFI has gone nuts. A clear CMOS should fix it, right? No! I pressed the clear CMOS button on the back panel of the motherboard with no luck. Oh dear!

Then I switched back to the graphics card. It didn’t want to work at first. But after a little retries, it worked. Still the same old blank screen. This is no good. I decided to switch the video card to the other PCI-E port. Same result.

All this time I wasn’t sure whether I was seeing things when I felt the text displayed on the monitor at the POST were bigger than usual, but I indeed wasn’t seeing things. They were big. Part of the UEFI screens were cropped.

Then I did the biggest mistake of all. I attempted to get rid of Windows and start from the scratch. I thought it would fix the problem, but if you used your brain a bit, you'd understand that UFEI screens getting cropped off is not related to a software problem. But I was quick to blame it all on Windows (doesn't everybody do that?) and started reinstalling Windows.

Then something that I didn't except to see even in my wildest dreams happened. A moment after the first reboot, the screen went blank. Oh noes! Windows setup must have installed the drivers for the graphics card at that point. Darn! Now what? What exactly are these drivers doing to the video card /monitor for this to happen?

Then I did something that I should have done before doing any of this nonsense. Ok, so the display goes blank when the monitor cable is plugged into the DVI ports, right? What if I tried out a different port on the video card? The HDMI port for example. (Well, that's the only thing I can try because the monitor doesn't support Display Port). And guess what? It fixed the problem. No kidding. It did! I believe it is not the DVI ports on the video card that have gone bad. It must be the cable. Perhaps a tiny strand inside the cable has gotten damaged and the display gets confused. (I think I should look into the DVI specification a bit to understand what exactly happened.) I do have a spare DVI cable but I didn't wanna try it out because I was so exhausted after all this. Not to mention, I had to reinstall Windows and everything. Reinstalling isn't the hard part. Reconfiguring everything the way it was is. I should probably make a backup image of my system once I configure everything the way I want. That would save a whole lot of man-hours.

So that's it folks. A long post, which didn't require to be that long if I used my head a bit. (BTW, that DVI cable was from my old Samsung 24" LCD. Damn you Samsung.)

P.S. I have no idea why then iGPU didn't work. Maybe it would of I removed the graphics card.

P.S. Gayan would be able to sleep well now.

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