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I was running a 64-bit version of Windows 7 Professional and sometime last week I decided to give Windows 8 Release Preview a go, and so I downloaded and installed it with no problems. I did find that I had to reinstall drivers for my nVidia GeForce 555M GT, so I went online and downloaded the recommended 302.80 drivers. I didn't notice any problems. Then, a couple of days later, since I was in the mood to update things, I decided to give the beta 304.79 drivers a go. After this, I started to notice the video drivers crashing seemingly sporadically whenever I tried to do anything graphics intensive. (For example, anytime I were to go to the nVidia control panel and select the 'Preview' tab, it would crash). I would get a Blue Screen of Death reporting the error VIDEO_TDR_FAILURE and a reference to nvlddmkm.sys.

Obviously, I just assumed the issue was due to the introduction of the beta drivers, so I uninstalled them and attempted to reinstall the original 302.80 drivers. The installation of the driver itself succeeded, but the installer threw an error when it attempted to install nVidia updater. More importantly, this installation did not fix any of the crashes. I attempted to install all compatible nVidia drivers. All installations produced the same result. I even tried Driver Cleaner in case the uninstallation procedure was leaving behind stray files that were causing problems. This fixed nothing.

I thus decided to use the new Windows 8 refresh feature which was supposed to keep are personal files and apps, but besides this, entirely 'reboot' the OS. This did not work.

I then finally decided to backup my data, format the hard drive, and reinstall Windows 7. After Windows 7 successfully installed, I installed the 266.40 nVidia drivers that came on a CD when I bought my computer. I am still receiving BSODs with the Windows 7 version of essentially the same error.

What in the hell is going on? After completely formatting the hard drive, reinstalling Windows 7, and still receiving the same error, I can't imagine it could be anything but a hardware problem. But could the introduction of beta drivers really do permanent damage to the hardware? If so, what could I do about this?

Thanks in advance!

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Bad drivers absolutely can destroy your hardware, this happened with nVidia when a specific driver basically fried thousands of consumer graphics cards. However, the TDR issue isn't new, it seems most drivers have a tendency to crash on random stuff on Windows 7/8. This may be a shot in the dark but try heating up your card to roughly 65C and then attempt to do something graphics intensive, does it still crash? –  Thomas Jul 13 '12 at 2:29
    
@Thomas How does one heat up the card without doing something graphics intensive? –  Jonathan Gleason Jul 13 '12 at 4:06
    
Having personally destroyed two screen cards and a monitor in my day with bad drivers and poor configuration choices in X-Windows, it's plausible that your beta installation could have caused permanent damage. –  user3463 Jul 13 '12 at 4:28
    
@RandolphWest If the beta drivers really did do permanent damage, am I just SOL? I don't imagine nVidia would be too interested in replacing the card . . . In fact, can the card be replaced at all? I'm having a difficult time finding any mobile graphics cards for sale at all. Don't tell me I'm stuck with replacing my entire rig because of something as silly as updating a driver . . . –  Jonathan Gleason Jul 13 '12 at 4:32
    
It's plausible, but I'm not going to stick my neck out and say it's definite. You need to check the other options too, like overheating, card seated properly, etc. –  user3463 Jul 13 '12 at 4:36

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