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I have the following:

OS: Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit (with SP2)
Videocard: nVidia GeForce 8400M GS

I was having some other issues with my videocard, so I went to nVidia's website and downloaded the latest driver available (260.99).

However, upon restart, the display goes blank as soon as the login process is complete. The login screen displays fine, as well as the security screen, but all I get is a black screen for everything else.


Edit: I can easily roll back the driver using System Restore, but that doesn't solve the problem because the original driver had its own problems.


Second edit: I am now installing this driver to see if that makes any difference.


Third edit: Okay, that didn't work. I'm going to add a bit more info below and add a bounty to try to get some answers because this is really bugging me:

Model: HP Pavillion dv6757ca

enter image description here


Fourth edit: I've gotten some very helpful answers and I'm going to start trying some of them now.
Note: I don't actually have a recovery CD, but I do have a recovery partition that I might be able to use.


Final edit: Thanks for the wonderful answers everyone. Unfortunately, none of them seemed to work and it looks like this is one of those issues that will have to remain until the next upgrade.

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By some chance is/was a second monitor hooked up that it might now be routing the input to on login –  quickcel Dec 8 '10 at 2:09
    
Is this an nVidia made card or third party using the nVidia chipset? –  Dave M Dec 8 '10 at 2:17
    
@quickcel: No, there was no secondary monitor plugged in during startup, though I have used a secondary monitor in the past. I doubt this was the problem, though, because it was working fine until I restarted. –  Nathan Osman Dec 8 '10 at 3:09
    
@DaveM: I have no idea. I'm guessing that it was, but I don't really know. How can I find out? –  Nathan Osman Dec 8 '10 at 3:10
    
@quickcel: I have a special button on the keyboard that toggles through all of the attached displays. Pushing that button did nothing, so I'm assuming that the problem lies elsewhere. –  Nathan Osman Dec 10 '10 at 20:07

7 Answers 7

The solution for me had nothing to do with drivers or the OS. Both of my 8800 Ultras (SLI'd) died within a month of each other.

I started noticing weird artifacts, then would get a blue screen with an lsass.sys error. Eventually after logging in I would get the dreaded black screen.

I threw in another hard drive, fired up a new install of Windows 7, and had the same result with the newest NVIDIA drivers; booting into safe mode worked just fine. I tried all sorts of driver versions, nothing worked.

In the end, Google led me to some crazy dudes that were baking their video cards in the oven. I tried it. I kid you not, it worked!

Instead of paying $600 for another pair of 8800 Ultras, I brought them back to life by throwing them in the oven for 10 minutes at 385 degrees.

Here's the exact method I used.

Edit: here is a thread for your particular situation and here is someone that successfully baked one.

Edit 2: There is a YouTube video of some dudes showing you how to bake an HP.

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Interesting... but don't forget that it works fine with OpenGL and with the samples from the DirectX SDK. I'm not quite convinced the card is defective yet. –  Nathan Osman Dec 13 '10 at 0:27
    
Would a class action lawsuit against nvidia convince you? nvidiasettlement.com/affectedmodels.html –  JakeRobinson Dec 13 '10 at 0:39
    
Hmmm... well, that might very well be the case if all other methods to get this working prove unsuccessful. –  Nathan Osman Dec 13 '10 at 20:10

It sounds like it might be using the other display port as soon as you log in. Have you tried hooking up to the other port? You can also try logging into safe mode by pressing the f8 key durring startup. From there you might be able to play with graphics settings.

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I can boot into safe mode no problem and it works fine. (Well, when I say fine, I mean that nothing happens that would be considered a problem in safe mode.) –  Nathan Osman Dec 12 '10 at 21:30
    
@George Edison When you go into safe mode, open up the graphics settings and lower the resolution to the lowest possible and reboot. You can also try making a new user account to see if this blanks screen is specific to your account. If your graphics card is set up to use two monitors, switch it to use just one and make sure it is using the correct video port on the back of the computer. You should be able to do all this from safe mode. –  James T Dec 14 '10 at 22:49
    
@James: Okay... I never thought of changing the resolution. If I set the new resolution in Safe Mode, will this be the mode used during normal startup? –  Nathan Osman Dec 16 '10 at 3:20
    
@George If i remember correctly, i was able to fix "Out of range" issues with the display by changing resolutions in safe mode. This unfortunately does not sound like the issue you are having. Based on your other comments, it is starting to sound more like malicious software that starts up with your computer. Taking out the hard drive and scanning it from another computer for viruses is one of the first things i do because it is easy to do. I'd also do a checkdisk for good measure (chkdsk /F). You should check the windows error logs in safe mode. Check the SMART status of the drive with hdtune –  James T Dec 16 '10 at 10:49
    
@George Also use autoruns from sysinternals to look at all the processes that start with your computer and look for suspicious ones. You can try a spybot search and destroy scan from safe mode. These are the standard things I do when computers do strange things. –  James T Dec 16 '10 at 10:52

I've noticed some times a black out like this can happen even with other devices, my method in these cases has been disabling one by one certain integrated chips in BIOS, or BIOS feature (if is not a critical one!), and start each time to see if problem dissapears, to at least know which is causing it. In one occassion it would black out due to an integrated audio card in mother board, for example. In this way, I at least can know what (what drivers or faulty hardware,etc) I have to fight against. Just to add another idea.

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I ran into this same issue a few months back. I removed the battery and HDD and pressed and held the power button for 20 seconds. Then insert the battery, HDD and power cable back and turned it on. Seemed to worked for some strange reason.

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This article might be useful:
Make User Account Control (UAC) Stop Blacking Out the Screen in Windows 7 or Vista.

The idea is to disable the group policy of "User Account Control: Switch to the secure desktop when prompting for elevation".

As you are on Vista Home, you will need to directly edit the registry. Open regedit and go to:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System

Right-click in the right-hand pane and create a new 32-bit DWORD value called PromptOnSecureDesktop, setting the value to 0.

The article also offers a Download DisableSecureDesktop Registry Hack.


If this doesn't help, and as you mentioned elsewhere that you can get into Safe mode, try scanning for system corruption : How to Repair Windows 7 System Files with System File Checker.

If nothing is found, you next step is How Do I Perform a Startup Repair or Repair Installation of Windows?. This will refresh the Windows installation while leaving alone all installed products. Use a boot CD that is compatible with your installed service pack.

If this doesn't work, your next step is to uninstall products that might be responsible for this problem, hoping to find one such product.

The last resort is to reformat the disk and reinstall Windows from scratch. Your computer probably has a restore CD that can restore it to its initial state as when bought.

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Well, it's worth a try. Should I make the registry change in safe mode? (Since obviously I can't change it otherwise.) –  Nathan Osman Dec 10 '10 at 18:29
    
After doing some more reading, all this does is disable the secure desktop - I can't even get the normal desktop to display. Not to mention that following the advice would result in a rather serious security concern. –  Nathan Osman Dec 10 '10 at 20:39
    
The problem is that sometimes the secure desktop is displayed rather than the normal one. You can always undo it if it doesn't help. –  harrymc Dec 10 '10 at 20:54
    
If you have tried it and it changes nothing, I have added some more ideas. –  harrymc Dec 13 '10 at 9:36
    
@harrymc: Thanks. I do have a recovery partition, but like most people, I didn't bother making recovery disks :) –  Nathan Osman Dec 13 '10 at 17:34

From The Back Room Tech:

Here is how to recover from the KSOD (blacK Screen Of Death):

There apparently this a problem related to the Remote Procedure Call service (RPC) running under LocalSystem account instead of NT Authority\NetworkService account.

  1. On the affected machine, boot using the Vista Media and Select “Next” and then in the bottom left you will see “Repair your Computer”; select Next and then Select Command Prompt.

  2. At the command prompt, launch regedit.exe and load the SYSTEM hive, follow the below steps.

a. Select HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE

b. On the File menu, select Load Hive.

c. Browse to %WINDIR%\System32\Config Folder and select “SYSTEM”

d. Select Open.

e. In the Load Hive dialog box, type in “MySYSTEM” box for the registry hive that you want to edit.

  1. After the hive is loaded, modify the following key value per the instructions below: You will need to know what ControlSet the machine is currently running on, this can be determined by going to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\MySYSTEM\Select and find the “Current” value in the Right hand side. (Example: Current value is 1 then the ControlSet will be ControlSet001)

Key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet00X\Services\RpcSs (X is the Number from the Current Key from above)

Value Name: ObjectName

Old Value: LocalSystem

New Value: NT AUTHORITY\NetworkService

  1. Unload the SYSTEM hive by selecting the key “MySYSTEM” and then select File -> Unload Hive… menu item.

  2. Exit regedit.exe

  3. Reboot the system normally

And from Maximum PC Guides:

Last Known Good Configuration

I’m going to walk you through booting Windows Vista using its last known good configuration. Since Windows Vista reverts to a previous version of the registry, you might lose data that was worked with since your last successful boot.

  1. Make sure your computer is powered down.
  2. Turn your computer on and immediately start pressing F8 on your keyboard repeatedly until you see a black screen with white writing that gives you a list of boot options.
  3. Use the down arrow on your keyboard to select the Last Known Good Configuration (Advanced) option.
  4. Press Enter on your keyboard and cross your fingers.

Hope this helps.

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Unfortunately, all of my configurations already have the new value. –  Nathan Osman Dec 15 '10 at 5:13
    
@George: What do you mean? Is that stopping you from trying the last known good configuration? Or is this your machines only ever configuration? –  John Dec 15 '10 at 16:59
    
@John: There are only two configurations listed in the registry... and I have no clue where the second one came from. –  Nathan Osman Dec 15 '10 at 19:43
    
@George: I would suggest trying whichever one you're not currently running. (Assuming that you haven't yet.) –  John Dec 16 '10 at 17:53
    
@John: How can I try it? All I have is a number in the registry. –  Nathan Osman Dec 16 '10 at 18:20

Did you uninstall the old drivers first? Try booting into save mode and using windows restore to restore back the a previous point before the new drivers were installed. Or try rolling back the drivers...

Here is an unofficial work around that you might want to take a look at here

share|improve this answer
    
Yes, the old drivers were uninstalled first and I can boot into safe mode. The problem is that I still don't end up with a working driver. –  Nathan Osman Dec 8 '10 at 1:29
    
Try to connect another monitor or try to reduce resolution (remember keyboard sequence to do that :) –  kokbira Dec 8 '10 at 2:12
    
@kokbira: Nope. Connecting another monitor does nothing. –  Nathan Osman Dec 8 '10 at 3:10

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