Thursday, August 2, 2007

Dual Monitor, Primary One Blacked Out

I was using an EVGA 256-P2-N624-AR GeForce 7900GS 256MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 KO video card, with two flat-panel monitors. That EVGA card incorporated a considerable amount of nVidia technology. In a somewhat unusual arrangement, I had the primary (left-hand) monitor positioned normally, in what you might call landscape mode if you were talking about a printed document. That is, the monitor was wider than it was tall. But I had rotated the right-hand monitor 90 degrees, so that its dimensions were more like letter format, in printing terms: it was taller than it was wide, like an ordinary printed letter. I found that this enabled me to view windows according to their natural dimensions. Word processing documents went into the right-hand monitor, where I could see far more than you would see on a normal setup; spreadsheets often went into the left-hand monitor, where I would see more width than height. I had previously had a working setup this way. But then I upgraded to a new motherboard, which required a new video card, namely, the EVGA card just mentioned. I was now having a hard time getting the monitor to work properly. The problem seemed to begin when I tried to uninstall one version of the ResChanger software that somehow got installed onto my system. There was ResChanger 2005, and then there was ResChangerXP. Each put an icon in my system tray. They did not appear to be incompatible; they were just duplicative, and I wanted to get rid of the extra one before the duplication did cause problems. Unfortunately, I had not made a backup of my program drive installation before making this change, and now it was not working out too well. I had been working along with no problems the night before; but then, when I rebooted the system the next morning, the left-hand (primary) monitor was black. I knew it was working OK because it would function normally in Safe Mode; but when I booted into Windows XP, it was black. Oddly, however, the secondary monitor was fine either way, though of course it was not properly rotated in WinXP's Safe Mode. Another dysfunctionality that I had noticed after uninstalling the ResChanger 2005 software -- on the previous day, when rebooting had brought me back into seeing both monitors in Normal Mode -- was that the resolution stayed properly set on the right-hand (secondary) monitor, but reverted to 800x600 on the primary monitor. I posted a question about it in an NVIDIA forum, and then set out to find my own solution meanwhile. Another nVidia user reported that the process of uninstalling drivers left his monitor black. But he did not appear to have dual monitors. A dual monitor user of EVGA hardware reported that his secondary monitor was black. Somebody said that the screen went black while playing games. Somebody using an AGP card reported a black monitor on bootup. One user was having a problem related to the VIA KX133 chipset on his/her motherboard. Some users reported that everything was fine when they reverted to their old graphics cards. At the time of this writing, I was not finding anyone who was reporting a primary monitor being black, immediately upon entering Normal Mode at bootup, in a dual-monitor system using this particular video card. EVGA had a number of suggestions in response to the postings that seemed potentially related to my situation. Among those suggestions, some did not seem likely to resolve my problem. for example, they indicated that one user's problem might result from bad system RAM, whereas I had tested mine as part of an extensive effort to resolve other problems in my new system. In a truncated response, they suggested trying Safe Mode and also making sure the monitor was plugged into the computer. Similarly, for a system that was beeping in addition to having a black monitor, they recommended making sure the card was properly plugged into the motherboard. In a computer that hung, they recommended getting an updated motherboard BIOS. I didn't have onboard video on my motherboard (though having it might have assisted in troubleshooting, right about now), so I couldn't use their suggestions in that regard. Elsewhere, they provided more detailed instructions for disabling onboard video in this kind of situation. Other EVGA responses seemed closer to the mark, and also seemed likely to require more work on my part. One suggestion was to try switching to another video port. I resolved to plug the secondary monitor into the primary socket, and vice versa -- just to see what would happen-- the next time I rebooted into Normal Mode. They also suggested doing the driver installation in Safe Mode, to avoid conflicts with background processes in Normal Mode. For a screen that suddenly went black, they advised going into Safe Mode and using Control Panel > System > Device Manager to remove all monitor devices listed, letting WinXP redetect them upon reboot. They also recommended seeing what would happen after changing the refresh rate, either setting it at "Adapter Default" or at 60Hz. Finally, for a blank or blinking screen when using a DVI LCD monitor, they suggested going into the NVIDIA control panel to Display > Manage Custom Timings > Create > Advanced > Timing Standard > CVT Reduced Blank > Test > OK. To reach the state of having things working fine on the preceding evening, I had gone through a few rounds of attempting to uninstall and reinstall the nVidia and/or EVGA software and/or drivers. I was not confident that I had succeeded in that effort. For example, after I thought the ResChanger 2005 software was long gone, it managed to turn up again somehow. So -- having gone many rounds with tech support advisors who took the approach of just throwing out suggestions in case something would work -- I decided to try again with the approach that had temporarily worked on that preceding evening: I would once again uninstall and reinstall the software. This time, however, I hoped to do a more thorough and precise job of it. As I thought more about it, however, I decided that this could be a fool's errand. It was possible that I and/or the duplicative versions of ResChanger had so thoroughly mucked up the system that a clean repair would not be possible. I had installed a fair quantity of software since my previous Drive Image 2002 backup of the system; but I felt it would probably be easier, at this point, to revert to that previous image and make the attempt there. By that time, I had already installed both versions of ResChanger, so a skillful uninstall of one version would be my first step. An advantage of this approach would be that I could then run some PC cleaning software before installing other stuff. I had been increasingly interested in cleaning the registry, as I had proceeded with the effort to install all this other software (some of which I had subsequently uninstalled). This approach would let me benefit from my previous trials and errors, without building too many artifacts from those efforts into my final setup. After restoring the previous drive image, I went immediately into Safe Mode. I decided upon the cleaning programs I would use to help me with this process. One was Rude Ketelaars' DH Driver Cleaner, copyright by DriverHeaven and more recently known as DriverCleaner.NET. This program interested me because it came with a Read-Me file that specifically targeted NVIDIA software. The other was CCleaner (short for "crap cleaner"), whose mandate went beyond drivers to include general-purpose stuff (e.g., registry entries) that could complicate a computer's life. Almost 1,200 voters had given it a 4.5-star rating at CNET's Also, PC World had reviewed it; it was rated excellent at SnapFiles; and another 1,078 voters had given it 4.7 out of 5 at Softpedia. First, as advised by the DriverHeaven program's Read-Me file, I unplugged the Internet connection, to prevent the system from seeking and downloading drivers later, though I knew that wouldn't be a problem as long as I stayed in Safe Mode. Then, in Device Manager, under Display Adapters, I right-clicked on NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GS and selected Uninstall. This provoked an indication that all related drivers will be uninstalled as well. There was then an indication that the uninstall failed. It may have, but the NVIDIA entry had disappeared. I suspected this message may have stemmed from my indication that I did not want to reboot yet. In any case, I went back to the DriverHeaven Read Me file and saw that I was supposed to delete the NVIDIA software from Add or Remove Progarms first. So I went there and designated all drivers for removal. I also removed ResChanger 2005 and ResChanger XP. Then I rebooted and went back into Safe Mode. The Found New Hardware Wizard came up three times, for three different of "new" hardware that was now sitting there naked, with no drivers. I cancelled out of each of those three. Following the instructions on Driver Heaven's Read-Me file, I looked for a way to disable my antivirus and antispyware software. There wasn't an icon in my system tray, in Safe Mode, for Symantec Antivirus, so I hit Ctrl-Atl-Del and looked in the Windows Task Manager. I didn't see any sign of antivirus software in either the Applications or Processes tab, so I went to the next step, which was to run Driver Cleaner Pro, specifying three different kinds of NVIDIA software. It ran for just a few seconds and was finished. Next, I ran CCleaner, specifying only Cleaner > Windows > System and unchecking everything else. I started with the Analyze option. The program designated a surprising 1GB worth of stuff to be removed. I looked at the list. It appeared to consist almost entirely of log files and materials from temp folders. Here, it seemed, was part of the reason for the swelling size of my Windows installation. I clicked Run for those items. Next, I scanned for all Issues. The program identified 641 items: missing shortcut references, missing shared DLLs, and so forth. It identified another 23 items on a second pass. Now I wanted to make a new drive image, to serve as a beachhead. If I ran into more troubles after this, at least I could revert back to this point without again having to go through the steps just described. Unfortunately, my old Drive Image 2002 would create unusable files if I told it to store the image on NTFS partitions. It required FAT32 partitions, and I only had one on my system. Drive Image was balking at it -- it seemed it might not be big enough -- and without the drivers loaded, the system was extremely slow in moving files around as needed to create another one. While that was unfolding, I tried to figure out how I had managed -- quite without intending -- to install two different versions of ResChanger. Or, more precisely, I tried to figure out which version I should be installing, and where I should get it (and how I could avoid installing the other one in the process). Retracing my steps, I found two versions of ResChanger on EVGA's downloads page. One was EVGA ResChangerXP v. 1.41. The other was EVGA ResChanger v. 1.00. There was also a program that appeared to be designed to remove the latter. I downloaded EVGA ResChanger v. 1.00 and started to install it. Confusingly, its installation page referred to it as "ResChanger v. 3.0." One clue came from the fact that that installation page also stated a copyright date of 1999. I bailed out of that installation and tried again to find ResChanger 2005, to determine whether its date (later than the release date of Windows XP) indicated that it was the newest of these products. According to a page at, ResChangerXP was the original name of Reschanger 2005, which it said was copyrighted, of course, in 2005. (Interestingly, that site also offered to do a free scan for errors related to ResChanger.) If that was correct, then the two were not separate products. But then why would EVGA have been offering ResChangerXP v. 1.41, instead of ResChanger 2005, on its downloads page? The companion page at WhatsRunning, for ResChangerXP, said that it was copyrighted in 2002. Certainly it seemed that ResChanger 2005 would be the product to install. Anyway, I still couldn't quite figure out how I had wound up with two versions of ResChanger. My best guess was that the "older" ResChanger 2005 had been on the program CD, and that I had used that to install the drivers, last time around; but I wasn't sure. EVGA's webpage also instructed me to install a driver program named 94.24_forceware_winxp_english_whql.exe. I wondered if maybe that was where I had gotten ResChanger 2005, so I installed that driver program first (and anyway, having the drivers seemed like a priority). But no: on reboot, I still had no ResChanger program installed. Installing that driver program had eliminated one of the three hardware wizard boxes that greeted me at each boot back into Safe Mode, however. The other two were wanting to install SM Bus Controller and Other PCI Bridge Device. These sounded like motherboard features. Evidently I had to reinstall some aspects of the mobo's functioning as well. Meanwhile, of course, NVIDIA had its own driver download webpage, but here they were saying that the current driver was a file called 162.18_forceware_winxp_32bit_english_whql.exe. It looked a little like the filename mentioned at the start of this paragraph, but -- 162.18? What happened to 94.25, and all the others? It seemed we had jumped dozens of revisions in a heartbeat. Well, whatever. I installed that program next, followed by several other driver downloads from that NVIDIA webpage. While installing one of them, a file named 91.31_forceware_3dstereo.exe, I got this error message: "Error Determining Display Type. Unable to determine if this is an NVIDIA video card. Some functions may not operate properly." Rebooting after that one, I saw that those last two hardware wizards were gone. I finished installing the EVGA and NVIDIA programs and rebooted into Normal Mode. I then spent the better part of a day doing actual work. All seemed to be good. Before backing up the completed, much improved Windows XP installation, however, I took it upon myself to start another troubleshooting project, having to do with problematic scanner drivers. As part of this enterprise, it made sense to run Driver Cleaner Pro. I believe the governing thought process was that I wanted to be sure to clean up unused scanner drivers before attempting a reinstallation. I forgot that DCP actually *removes* drivers. So within a moment, I had removed all of the drivers that I had so painstakingly installed. This led me back to the original question, because what happened next was that I had, once again, a situation in which my primary monitor was blacked out while the secondary one was working. In partial response to that, I realized I should tell users who can no longer see anything on their screens that Task Manager could still be available via Ctrl-Alt-Del; and that, once in Task Manager, the key sequence for shutdown is Alt-U (for Shutdown) followed by R (for Reset) and then Enter. I discovered this because, in my case, Task Manager thankfully came up on the secondary screen rather than the primary one, so I could see it. Since I did not want to spend another day reinstalling all of the software that I had just installed after my successful installation of NVIDIA drivers, I decided to try just reinstalling the drivers. As mentioned earlier, I was not sure of the proper order, but here was the order in which I was proceeding: 94.24_forceware_winxp_english_whql.exe 162.18_forceware_winxp_32bit_english_whql.exe 8.43_nforce_650i_winxp32_english.exe 91.31_forceware_3dstereo.exe 4.13_forceware_wdm.exe I ran through them all once, in that order, and upon rebooting after the last one, I encountered the black primary monitor as just described. Therefore, I decided to try again. The last two seemed specialized. I had noticed that the transition from 640x480 resolution, as in Safe Mode, to higher resolutions had happened after the installation of the first three in that list, so I decided to reinstall just those three. When I double-clicked on the first one, however, I received this message: "Installing older drivers. The drivers you are installing are older than the drivers currently installed on your system. Do you wish to continue and install the older drivers?" I said no, and the program ejected me. So now I was down to thinking that the reason for the black screen might have something to do specifically with just the second and third driver programs listed above. I ran the second one, beginning with 162, and rebooted into Normal Mode. And, you know, that worked! I canned it into a new drive image and called it a day. Next day, though, the problem was back. I found I could defeat it by reloading the drivers, but it kept recurring. Plainly, something was wrong. I was still having some system crashes, though not as bad as before. Since I had either tested or replaced just about every component in the system that could possibly have been a culprit, I thought there might be an issue with the video card itself. I had discovered, years before, that it was a good idea to have a second computer on hand when trying to do a hardware upgrade. But I had forgotten part of the reason why. I was thinking that it made it much easier to go online and find solutions to installation and configuration problems. That was true, and for that purpose I was glad I had the laptop handy. The part I had forgotten was that it is also sometimes very helpful to be able to remove hardware from one computer and test it in the other one. This was one of those times. If I'd had a second computer available, using the same basic kind of motherboard and so forth, this troubleshooting process would have been much faster. I had resolved never to do this kind of installation again, but in the meantime perhaps I had assumed that times had changed, that hardware and software were much more advanced than they had been in, say, 1996. Maybe they were, but this part had not changed. I did not think it was likely I could get good tech support from EVGA in this case. As far as I could tell, they had no live chat or telephone tech support, and I had not had good luck in attempting to resolve complex problems by e-mail. NVIDIA had tech support forums, but I had received no insights from a first posting and was not too optimistic about a second one. Before I could deal with the hardware directly in this case, I needed to be able to boot back into Normal Mode and see both monitors, and I was not presently in that position. I rebooted into Safe Mode and once more installed those driver files. In the interim, I had noticed that the installation of the third one called for uninstallation of parts of the first and/or second one. So this time, I installed them as follows: 8.43_nforce_650i_winxp32_english.exe 94.24_forceware_winxp_english_whql.exe 162.18_forceware_winxp_32bit_english_whql.exe again leaving the last two of the list of five (above) to fend for themselves. This time, while I may have encountered it previously, I made note of the fact that the attempt to install the 94.24 file yielded a notice that I was attempting to install drivers that were older than the ones already installed. This suggested, to me, that perhaps I could do without the 94.24. For both of the other two files, however, I did opt to overwrite the files already on the system. When I rebooted after reinstalling these drivers, I noticed that shutdown time was very much slower than it had been on the previous reboot. I took this as a hint that I might have introduced software incompatibilities in my selection of installation sequences. I used the reset button to get back into Safe Mode. There, I tried reversing the order of the files just mentioned. That is, I installed them in this order: 162.18_forceware_winxp_32bit_english_whql.exe 8.43_nforce_650i_winxp32_english.exe and then tried shutting down again. When I rebooted into Safe Mode, I realized that there was another, more obvious problem, namely, that I still had not sorted out the scanner installation difficulties that had caused me so much aggravation, and was therefore continuing to get Hardware Wizard pop-ups whenever I rebooted. I wanted to resolve that issue before returning to this monitor problem, but was able only to do the driver part of it; the scanner program would not let me installed its accompanying software in Safe Mode. So I needed to get the monitors working properly before I could complete that. I also noticed, when rebooting into Safe Mode, that I was now getting that "Other PCI Bridge Device" error message again. Evidently these drivers were essential to resolve that. But which one(s)? To resolve this without waiting for long periods of time during each reboot, I tried the approach of installing just one of the three driver programs just listed, opting to overwrite previously existing files, and then rebooting with the reset button to see what happened. Essentially, I hoped, this would allow each of the three programs an opportunity to have the last word (i.e., to overwrite the other two as needed); hopefully this would shed some light on what was needed. The first one, beginning with 8.43, resolved the Other PCI Bridge Device error. Rebooting and loading the second one, beginning with 94.24, once again brought up the message that I was installing outdated drivers, so I felt more confident that it was indeed extraneous, despite being carried currently on the manufacturer's website. Installing the third one, beginning with 162.18, by itself, and then rebooting, yielded (again) a slow reboot time. I decided to try another approach. Using Driver Cleaner Pro, I wiped out the drivers for NVIDIA, nForce chipset, and WDM (leaving the stereo driver, which seemed unrelated). I then rebooted, to see if reboot times were faster. They did not seem to be. Indeed, the machine seemed to freeze altogether at that point. Eventually I punched the reset button again and tried to think of some other approach. It was curious, to me, that on two separate days I had experienced the situation of working successfully on both monitors in the evening, only to discover that the primary one was no longer available the next day. Likewise, on this particular day, after the primary monitor went from working to not working, I restored a drive image and found that, there too, it worked. I thought I might be able to learn something from that. My new game plan, then, was to restore the drive image, reboot more frequently, and try to see when reboots began to slow down -- to see whether slow reboots resulted from specific activities on my part, and whether slow reboots (slow shutdowns, I should be saying, because that was where the delays occurred) seemed to predict failure of the primary monitor. So I restored the image, went into Normal Mode, and rebooted. From the time I clicked Restart until the time when the system actually did restart (i.e., when it began to reload the BIOS) was a total of three minute and 13 seconds (3:13). I did it again, again making no changes, but taking greater care to wait until the hard disk light had largely stopped flashing. This time, it was 2:51. (To avoid having to sit and stare at the screen and not miss the moment of action, I would open the CD drive tray. The system closed it automatically on shutdown, and I would hear and/or see that, and that would be my cue to prepare to kill the stopwatch.) Now I began to experiment. In an attempt to retrace my steps from the previous go-round, I began to make adjustments to the system. I went into ResChangerXP, opened the NVIDIA Control Panel, and changed the screen refresh rate for each monitor from 60Hz to 72Hz. Then, noticing a painfully obvious potential problem that I had somehow overlooked previously, I went online (on another computer) for an updated driver for the primary monitor -- the one that was blacking out -- so that Display Properties > Monitor would call it a Lenovo, and not merely a Plug and Play Monitor. I ran PC Wizard to get this information, which was a small mistake because that program took several minutes to finish its initial sweep before I could use it -- and then it didn't give me even as much information as I got by just picking up the monitor and looking at the tag on its back. After installing an updated driver (dated January 2007, I believe) from an IBM website, I rebooted. This time, shutdown took 2:48. But because I felt that the updated driver could be entirely responsible for the problem, I planned to postpone further work on this issue, focusing instead on the problems I was having in getting my scanner to work. It seemed to me that the scanner-related efforts might have coincided with my display-related problems. But on reboot, I found out otherwise. My primary monitor was black once again. It seemed that something involved in the use of ResChanger or the NVIDIA Control Panel might be the culprit. (It also seemed that relatively rapid shutdown was not a predictor of primary monitor success on reboot.) I punched the reset button and booted into Safe Mode. I reverted to a previous System Restore state and clicked on Restart. This time, shutdown was very slow. When I began timing it, perhaps five minutes had already elapsed, and I let another five go by before hitting the reset button again. The slowness seemed to have been caused by the use of System Restore, or by the prior use of the reset button. Oddly, System Restore did not bring back the functioning of the primary monitor. It remained black. I wondered whether this meant that System Restore was not working properly, or perhaps that ResChanger or the NVIDIA Control Panel had made some change beyond the reach of System Restore. I had to revert to a previous drive image to get things back to square one. It was odd that the monitor that failed was the primary one. In NVIDIA Control Panel (NCP), I had made no changes to it. The change I had made were to the secondary monitor: I had increased its refresh rate. It appeared that, if NCP or ResChangerXP were the source of the problem, they became problematic merely by being used, regardless of the changes I made in them. To test this, I used Control Panel > Display, instead of ResChanger, to change the secondary monitor to a 72Hz refresh rate. Then I set a System Restore point and rebooted. Again, on reboot, both monitors were working fine. Again, using Control Panel > Display, I changed the resolution on the primary monitor from 60Hz to 72Hz, and I also installed the newly downloaded driver for the Lenovo monitor. Again, I set a restore point and rebooted. Shutdown took 2:31 this time. But on reboot, the primary monitor was black again. The problem thus did not appear to be with ResChangerXP or NCP after all; apparently it was, rather, with the primary monitor being set at 72Hz. Shutdown seemed to freeze, so I used the reset button to reboot into Safe Mode. I was not able to adjust the primary resolution there, so I used System Restore to revert to the last safe place, and then rebooted back into Normal Mode. I had to use the reset button again because, again, the system froze in shutdown. Back in Normal Mode, I had recovered the use of the primary monitor. Its refresh rate was still at 60Hz, now that it had been reverted to its earlier state. Using Control Panel > Display, I set it to 72Hz, and saved out of Display Settings. Then I went back into Display and set it back to 60Hz. In effect, I had changed it, to see if the mere act of changing it was problematic; but it ended up at a setting that I thought it could tolerate on reboot. (I didn't actually notice any difference between 60 and 72Hz settings, when I examined the screen.) As before, the system was able to shut itself down and reboot without difficulty. (Two and a half minutes for shutdown was hardly great, but I could live with it for now.) On reboot, as a final test in this regard, I used ResChangerXP and NCP to adjust the primary (Lenovo) monitor's refresh rate from 60Hz to 72Hz and then back again to 60Hz. Rebooting one more time, I found that, again, there was no problem. So ResChanger and NCP were not the issue. It was simply that the monitor would balk at 72Hz. What remained was to shut the computer down overnight and see if, once again, the previous night's good system would somehow go bad, seemingly without any intervention on my part. So when I finished for the evening, I shut the system down, wondering what I would see when I awoke. But, joy, the next morning, it did appear to be fixed! I held off for another 24 hours, and by then it did seem established: I had a working dual-monitor system. At this point, I took the better part of a week to deal with difficulties in making my motherboard function properly, to get all the necessary drivers to load, and so forth. I found, to my dismay, that I was still having problems with a black primary monitor, so I revived this post and began to add new material to it, as follows: When it seemed that I had gotten my motherboard in good shape, I began to try to update my drivers. I set a System Restore point and then went down through each item in Device Manager (ignoring apparent duplicates), right-clicking and seeking to update drivers to the extent possible. There were few actual updates by this route. (Memory says that the updated devices were the HID UPS Battery and the Silicon Image SiI 3531 SATA Controller.) Also, I decided to bail out of doing the NVIDIA nForce 430/410 Serial ATA Controller update this way, since it was asking for files that seemed likely to be installed by the 8.43_nforce_650i_winxp32_english.exe update mentioned above. I verified that I could have retrieved those files from a previous drive image, made before I wiped off the drivers; but I thought at this point I was probably being too worried about possible damage from trying again to use that update. I rebooted to complete the installation of the several driver updates I had just installed, and looked at Device Manager to make sure I did not have any new problems. I ran Windows Update in case any of these updates called for others -- and in case of the Silicon Image update, it did. I made another drive image and rebooted. I was dismayed, now, to see that my system had returned to the earlier problem in which my primary monitor (in my dual monitor system) was black, showing nothing. Rebooting did not solve the problem. Nor did System Restore or Drive Image 2002. Apparently I had made these backups too late. I rebooted into Safe Mode and reverted to the time immediately before I had attempted to update those various drivers in Device Manager. Though I couldn't be certain -- the events summarized here took place over a period of hours, during which I tended to be preoccupied with other matters, on a separate computer and elsewhere -- it seemed like I was dealing with a sneaky sort of problem that might not emerge on the first reboot. So I decided to proceed even more cautiously. I checked Device Manager to confirm that no new yellow problems had emerged during this jockeying around. I then went into Windows Update and downloaded all available updates. When they were installed, I received a dialog telling me the system needed to reboot. I rebooted completely, and then rebooted again. Sure enough, on the second (but not the first) reboot, this, too, gave me a black primary monitor. I went back into Safe Mode and reverted again to that same restoration point, just before I had begun doing driver updates, and again I rebooted an extra time. I made myself a System Restore point and called it Safe Point. Next, this time, I installed only one of the Windows Update downloads. I noticed that there were now five Silicon Image entries in Control Panel. I figured that couldn't be healthy. I thought maybe the Windows Update download for Silicon Image was designed to rectify that. So I started with that one. It went OK; double reboots didn't faze it; and unfortunately it did not remove four of those Silicon Image entries from Control Panel. On to the second Windows Update download (which W.U. referred to as KB935448). Then I realized that possibly the problem was coming from my display settings. I was repeatedly going into Control Panel > Display > Themes > Windows Classic, and also > Display > Appearance > Color Scheme > Desert. So after I installed KB935448, but before I rebooted, I set those Display settings again. On reboot, my theme and color scheme were in place; but when I prepared for an immediate second reboot, as I was staring at the Turn Off Computer dialog, I saw that the Windows shield was attached to the Turn Off option, indicating that the downloads had not yet been updated (or perhaps that some others had been downloaded in the background meanwhile). I did the second reboot, and now, sure enough, on second reboot my primary monitor was black. Back in Safe Mode, I reverted to the last safe System Restore point. This time, I did nothing but modify the two Display settings just described. I then rebooted. Or at least I tried. On the first try, when the hard disk light was done, the system just sat there, with nothing on either monitor. I punched the reset button and, again, after the initial Windows XP splash screen, I got nothing. It seemed that the cause of my black monitor was just that WinXP, with this hardware, was not going to let me use the Classic theme and/or the Desert color scheme. Back in Safe Mode again, I reverted to my last safe System Restore point; but then, upon returning to Normal Mode, I saw that I still had a black primary monitor. I had had this experience before, where System Restore seemed to do an imperfect job of restoring the previous system state. I tried powering the machine down and letting it sit a minute for a cold reboot. That didn't do it. I reverted to an earlier System Restore point. Going with the flow, I decided to finish installing my Windows Updates before fooling anymore with the color scheme and/or theme issue. But now I was puzzled, because I still had the black primary monitor even though I hadn't changed the color theme or scheme. My theory, now, was that one of these processes would screw Windows up enough so that it could not be fixed by reverting to an earlier System Restore point. The question was, which process was the culprit? I restored the most recent drive image and rebooted twice without making any changes. It rebooted fine. The second time (but not the first time), I saw that I had already set my color scheme and theme the way I wanted in that version of drive C. I rebooted a third time. Now I had a black primary monitor. So: these issues predated the most recent drive image; they just did not all emerge on the first boot. I restored an earlier drive image. Upon bootup, I had a black primary monitor. I knew I had not had a black primary monitor when I created that drive image. Drive Image 2002 had been very reliable for me. I did not believe that was the issue. More likely, it seemed, the problem lay in the video card. I had bought it more than 30 days prior, and therefore could not simply return it to Newegg. So, to review, it seemed that I had been dealing, all along, with a problem that had eluded solution because it did not show up on every bootup. It depended on something. I couldn't tell what. It was only now that I became of this varying problem, because this was the first time when I engaged in multiple reboots without changing anything. I had been attributing my problems to the things I was changing, when it seemed the problems may have had nothing to do with what I was doing. Since the most recent drive image (see the companion post on the MSI motherboard struggle) represented very nearly the high-water mark in this attempt to install WinXP, I restored it and decided to work from there. At that point, it seemed to me that I had used DH Driver Cleaner and Advanced WindowsCare (AWC) to remove my NVIDIA drivers, and had then reinstalled them, and that had solved the problems appearing in Device Manager. But I had not yet updated them with the latest versions. Also, DH Driver Cleaner had had options to uninstall NVIDIA drivers specifically, but I was not certain whether that meant EVGA drivers too. But since I saw none of the latter in Add or Remove Programs, I hoped that perhaps EVGA drivers were being recorded as NVIDIA drivers -- in other words, that I had removed and reinstalled all the drivers that I needed to remove and reinstall, and hopefully now it was just a question of doing maybe a cleanup and then an update. So first I ran Advanced WindowsCare and, just for good measure, CCleaner, on my newly reinstalled drive image. Then I installed graphics drivers, one at a time, with a System Restore point and reboot between each. I started with the NVIDIA 162.18_forceware_winxp_32bit driver. When its installation was finished, I also had an error message indicating that the Driver Helper Service had encountered a problem and had to close. Also, as I had observed previously, this driver caused my screen resolution to drop: I was now looking at much bigger letters on the monitor. I assumed that meant that the native Windows driver had been replaced, and it was just a matter of resetting the resolution as I wanted it. Unfortunately, on first reboot, I had a blank primary monitor, which was discouraging. At this point, I had concluded that it had been a real mistake to buy an NVIDIA-chipset motherboard and video card. My previous motherboard's ATI card (which was AGP and therefore would not fit in this motherboard) had been stable and easy to install. Of course, I also felt a little foolish when I remembered that I had not yet checked the manual. I went to EVGA's manual webpage and also their driver installation guide webpage. The latter talked about disabling onboard video, which did not apply in my case since my motherboard did not have onboard video. But just to be sure, I rebooted and went into BIOS setup. This document also said that it was proceeding on the basis of driver version 52.16. While I was looking at that document, the system completed its first reboot. I had both monitors, with my classic theme and desert color scheme. I rebooted a second time, and now I was back to the black primary monitor. I rebooted a third time into Normal Mode, just to see what would happen. The black primary monitor persisted. (To reboot in such instances, at this point I was using Ctrl-Alt-Del to bring up Task Manager. It appeared on the primary screen, so I couldn't see it; but I knew that hitting Alt-U would bring up the Turn Off option, and then an R followed by Enter would cause a reboot -- as long as I allowed a moment between each of those steps. On occasions when that didn't work, I just used the reset button on the computer.) On the fourth reboot, however, I had my primary monitor back. So while rebooting into Safe Mode and reverting to a previous System Restore point had seemed to fix the problem, it seems that it may have done no more than to cycle the problem back to a workable point (in some but not all cases). I went into Device Manager, right-clicked on my display adapter, and looked at its properties. Its driver version was Its driver details stated that the file version was unknown. So at the moment I was not sure how to interpret the installation guide's statement, above, that we were working with driver version 52.16. The driver version that I had downloaded from the EVGA website was 94.24_forceware. So I was confused. It continued to seem that the installation process was not like it had been for the ATI product. I began the process of contacting EVGA customer support. The first step was to register on their website. At the end of the registration process, I wound up at a webpage that thanked me for registering and that told me their customer service was available at or 888-881-EVGA (3842). On another page, they provided support supervisor e-mail addresses. I did not want to bother a supervisor if my problem was basic, so I filled out their e-mail response form, starting with a webpage that required me to enter the product's serial number (which, unless I wanted to physically remove the card from the machine, required me to refer to a photocopy of the back of the box, since I had had to cut out and send in the UPC to qualify for a rebate on my purchase price). Their webpage informed me that my e-mail address and/or serial number did not match any in their database. So I decided to call them when they opened at 9 AM PST. I reached a support technician with a delay of about 4-5 minutes. He helpfully registered my video card over the phone and told me that, if a return merchandise authorization (RMA) proved necessary, I could go into their website and get one via a cross-shipment arrangement for $11. He also said they didn't include ResChanger software on their latest CDs anymore because you could get the same functionality through Control Panel > Display. So I uninstalled ResChanger, leaving me with one less icon in my system tray. I asked him about uneven print resolution on my second monitor; he suggested that changing the resolution or (as proved to be correct) the refresh rate might resolve that. I told him that I hadn't seen any EVGA drivers listed in Add or Remove Programs, but that I had uninstalled all NVIDIA drivers before attempting to reinstall anything, and he confirmed that the EVGA drivers would all appear there as NVIDIA drivers. Finally, he suggested that I might get better results from a somewhat older driver that had proved itself over the better part of a year. Specifically, for my card, the driver he recommended was the 93.71_forceware_winxp2k_english_whql.exe. He had no explanation for how this might relate to the number of the other driver I had been playing with, i.e., the 162.18_forceware_winxp_32bit_english_whql.exe. My best guess -- since he was also mentioning other drivers, all with numbers in the 93-95 range -- was that the website from which I had downloaded the 162.18 driver was screwed up and that I should never have gotten that file. I downloaded and installed the 93.71 driver just mentioned, after deleting the NVIDIA display driver in Add or Remove Programs. After getting everything adjusted the way I wanted, I rebooted three times, and each time the system came up right. It would take a couple of days of consistently good results before I could be confident that the thing was finally working. In the meantime, I felt that I could summarize this problem by saying that I probably should have been more aggressive about contacting tech support, and also that it was not until I had resolved other issues on my system (particularly motherboard issues) that I could be sure I should focus on the video card. I think, too, that I had been spoiled by my work with other computer components, particularly the Gigabyte motherboard and the ATI video card that I had purchased within the past year or two. I definitely did not anticipate that I would need to invest as much energy and time into this project as it took. Chalk it up to recent inexperience; I had essentially forgotten the old advice to try older drivers if the latest ones didn't work. It was disappointing not to receive answers to questions posted on forums; I have to assume that other people didn't know the answers any more than I did. And so forth. Barring any further difficulties, it now seemed that I had resolved the black primary monitor problem and was entitled to get on with other things.