Friday, July 24, 2015

Windows 10, Windows Update and GeForce driver: is this what you callthe GeForce Experience?

I have Windows 10 RTM build currently running in my PC. I also have a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 graphics card installed. I had the GeForce driver version 353.30 installed until the day before yesterday. This was the latest driver offered for Windows 10 on website at that time.

On the day before yesterday I found out that there was a newer driver offered by Windows Update, with the version number 353.54. Before I even knew it, Windows Update had updated the old driver to this version and was awaiting a reboot. There is no way to skip updates In Windows 10. However you can defer updates for 24hrs. That's it. I don't like to update the graphics driver hence I first clean the existing driver and then install the newer driver from the scratch.

But Windows Update didn't give me a choice. So after it updated the driver, I rebooted the PC and went into the driver control panel to change the default settings to the settings that I use. (I change the default settings because default settings cause high input lag.) For some reason, the control panel had retained my old preferences, including the custom refresh rate (100Hz) that I set for my display. Weird, I thought.


Later that day, I tried to play a couple of matches of Crysis 3 and immediately encountered a problem. ShadowPlay wasn't functional. It wasn't totally dead, because the FPS overlay was visible and seemed to be working. But video recording wasn't functional at all. The indicator overlay was missing from the screen. I launched GeForce Experience and disabled the ShadowPlay option (it was enabled) and tried to re-enable it. It turned off alright, but never turned back on. (There could be a reason for this but I didn't want to troubleshoot it because it is time consuming.)

I know what this means: clean up the driver and reinstall fresh. First I tried to download the 353.54 driver, but sadly it wasn't available outside of Windows Update. Not even Nvidia's website had it. (Even as of writing this post, it is unavailable outside Windows Update.) 

Since there wasn't anything I could do at this point, I decided to download the latest driver hosted by NVidia, version 353.30. Then I proceeded to clean up the existing driver (the one Windows Update installed) using Display Driver Uninstaller (DDU). The author had added support for Windows 10 with the latest build. Phew! The great thing about DDU is that it would automatically boot into the Safe Mode, clean up the driver and reboot back into regular Windows. Too bad it is not completely unattended because the user has to specify which driver (AMD, NVIDIA or Intel) to remove after booting into the Safe Mode. It would have been perfect if the user could specify this at the initial stage or if it could automatically detect it. (For example, I only have the NVidia driver installed so I don't have to specify which one to remove.)

After cleaning up the driver, I managed to install the 353.30 driver without any drama. Without messing with the preferences, I headed straight to Windows Update and sure enough, Windows Update was ready to install version 353.54 driver. I let it update the driver. I thought the update wouldn't go bad this time because the old driver was at its default settings.)

Just as expected, everything went smoothly this time around. I could enable ShadowPlay after the reboot and set all the preferences as I would usually do.

So was that itl? Not quite.

I saw a glitch in the system after updating the driver. There was a new icon on the desktop. It said, 3D Vision Photo Viewer. It's been many years since I had seen that because when I install the GeForce  driver, I always choose custom and choose only the components that I use. The 3D Vision component and the HD Audio component are always unchecked because I don't need that bloat.

But Windows Update isn't sensible. It just had done a full installation. This is what Programs and Features window showed. Sigh!


I has to remove the 3D Vision driver and HD Audio driver manually. Now things are as should be.

One thing that I could have done differently is skipping the 353.30 driver and letting Windows Update to install the 353.54 driver from the driver-less state. I'm not entirely sure if Windows Update would be able to see the card though. I'll try that next time. Hopefully NVidia will have the drivers up on their website before Windows Update hereafter.

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