Updated 19th Nov 2014
Every few months I find a PC needs to be re-paved – just too much beta code has accumulated. I reached this point again on my main 4 year old Lenovo W520 recently. Yes it is getting on a bit in computer years but it does the job; the keyboard is far nicer than the W530 or W540’s we have and until an ultrabook is shipped with 16Gb of memory (I need local VMs, too many places I go to don’t allow me to get to VMs on Azure) I am keeping it.
I have posted in the past about the issue with the W520 (or any laptop that uses the Nvidia Optimus system), well that struck again, with a slight twist to confuse me.
Our IT team have moved to System Center to give a self provisioning system to our staff, so I …
- Connected my PC (that had Windows 8.1 on it) to the LAN with Ethernet
- Booted using PXI boot (pressed the blue ThinkVantage button, then F12 to pick the boot device)
- As the PC was registered with our System Center it found a boot image, reformatted by disk and loaded our standard Windows 8.1 image
- It rebooted and then it hung….
It was the old video card issue. The W520 has a Intel GPU on the i7 CPU and also a separate Nvidia Quatro GPU. Previously I had the Intel GPU disabled in BIOS as I have found that having both enabled means it is very hard to connect to projector when presenting (but remember you do need both GPUs enabled if you wish to use two external monitors and the laptop display, but I don’t do this). However, you do need the Intel GPU to install Windows. The problem is Windows setup gets confused if it just sees the Nvidia for some reason. You would expect it to treat it as basic VGA until it gets drivers, but it just locks.
- So I rebooted the PC, enable the Intel GPU in BIOS (leaving the Nvidia enabled too) and Windows setup picked up where it left off and I thought I had a rebuild my PC.
Even with the problems this was very quick to get a domain joined PC. I then started to install the applications using a mixture of System Center Software Center and Chocolatey.
However I knew I would hit the same problem with projectors, so I went back into BIOS and disabled the Intel GPU. The PC booted fine, worked for a minute or two then hung. This was strange as this same configuration had been working with Windows 8,1 before the re-format!
So I re-enabled the Intel GPU, and all seemed OK, until I tried to use Visual Studio 2013. This loaded OK, but crashed within a few seconds. The error log showed
Faulting application name: devenv.exe, version: 12.0.30723.0, time stamp: 0x53cf6f00
Faulting module name: igdumd32.dll_unloaded, version: 184.108.40.20617, time stamp: 0x532b0b5b
The igdum32.dll is an Intel driver. So I disabled the Intel adaptor, this time via Admin Tools > Computer Manager > Device Manager. Visual Studio now loaded OK. I found I could re-enable the Intel GPU after Visual Studio loaded without issue. So the problem was something to do with the extended load process.
So I had a usable system, but still had problems when using a projector.
The solution in the end was simple – remove the Intel Drivers
In Admin Tools > Computer Manager > Device Manager delete the Intel GPU – Select the option to delete the drivers too
Reboot the PC and in BIOS disable the integrated Intel GPU
When the PC reboot it will just use the Nvidia GPU
The key here is to delete the Intel drivers, the basic fact of their presence, whether running or not, cause the problems either to the operating system or Visual Studio depending on your BIOS settings
Updated 19th Nov 2014
Turns out my repave had other issues, the issue with the Intel drivers during initial Windows setup had corrupted the OS, I had to start again. On this second attempt I got different results. I found I DID NOT have to remove the Intel drivers. I just needed to disable the Intel GPU in the BIOS to get my laptop working OK with projectors