Monday, 12 January 2009

Windows 7 - Graphics issues NVS 135M

While it seems to be well understood that Windows 7 is in early beta and has many graphics issues, I did come across one particular issue that really drove me up the wall.

My laptop, a Dell D830, had been running 6956 for a week or so with no problems and was displaying the new superbar taskbar with it's nice Aero peek function no problem.
I found Windows 7 to be pretty stable and run all the software I was running on Vista, so I thought OK, I'll upgrade to the 7000 Beta 1 build which was release a week or two after I had installed 6956. However, after installing the new build, my nice Aero affect had gone and the taskbar was back to a rather cut-down version of the Aero peek feature.

I decided to work on this one as it had been working so it seemed quite plausible it should still work on the 7000 build. I had done an upgrade from 6956 to 7000 so I decided to install 7000 from fresh. This resulted in the same problem. I had been accepting the Windows Update recommendation to install the latest WDDM 1.1 version of the nVidia driver for the NVS 135M graphics card onboard and so I thought maybe it was this. Then I started trying really basic things like typing 'Aero' into the start button search. One entry this brought up was to find and fix problems with transparency and other visual effects. Ah-hah I thought!

So I ran this Aero troubleshooting wizard and it came back that Aero required 32-bit colour. That's odd I thought, my card was displaying 32-bit before, I thought that my nice blue background was looking a little more dithered than before. Looking at the screen resolution options and then going to advanced and selecting the monitor tab I noticed that the colour depth was 16-bit and with no option to change it to anything else! I spent some time being frustrated about this and trying other versions of the graphics drivers but to no avail.

Finally I noticed in the nVidia control panel an advanced option to manage custom resolutions. I added a new resolution of 1920x1600 and set the colour depth to 32-bit. Lo and behold it worked! I had to reboot and then run the Aero troubleshooter again which enabled all the Aero options again and my taskbar and nice transparency were all back!

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