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FIX: How-to solve your Windows Vista Sleep problems
You've heard it before: some people rave about Windows Vista, others keep complaining. From the computers I've installed and/or upgraded so far, I can tell that it's a hit or miss operation. Either it all works out smoothly, or it goes down to hell quickly.

One of the biggest problems I've encountered so far is that the new Hybrid Sleep from Windows Vista works so good on my Dell Latitude D810 notebook, and at the same time totally made the Vista Experience worthless on a Dell Precision 650 Workstation and even on a brand new Dell Precision 690 Workstation.

Here's what goes wrong: you push the power button in the Start menu – this is by default configured to use the Sleep mode. Sometimes this works ok, other times you get a black screen, some USB-peripherals are correctly disabled but the machine itself doesn't power off (fans keep turning etc.). To make matters worse, you can't wake your pc because your USB keyboard has already been disabled.

It also occurs that while your machine apparently went to sleep without problems, it won't start up again or even if it does, it hangs on a black screen and you can't do anything to go further.

The big constants between my Precision 650 and the Precision 690 were: a SCSI controller based on the LSI Fusion MPT chipset in the 650 and the newer version SAS/SATA Raid controller from LSI in the 690; and both machines had an nVidia Quadro FX workstation graphics card (Quadro FX 500 in the PWS650, FX 550 in the PWS690).

The solutions I've tried:
  1. Having tried the latest drivers for the LSI based controller, downloaded from the support websites at Dell, HP, Intel, and LSI-Logic, it didn't solve the problem. I did see controller errors in the Event Viewer that were obviously related to the sleep problem, but the most recent drivers didn't solve a thing.

  2. Updated BIOS firmware for the machines, installed most recent drivers for about anything in the machine, including the latest Intel INF files. No help.

  3. Changed the Power Plan settings in the Vista control panel to never sleep, but use Hibernate instead. Unfortunately this gave me the same problems.

  4. Changed the BIOS settings to use agressive S1 power state instead of S3, so that more devices are disabled and more power conserved. Alas, no resolution.

  5. Reset all BIOS and Power plan settings to their default. I've experienced exactly one (1) successful sleep, after that it was back to square one.

  6. This gave me the working solution: I changed from the latest WHQL nVidia drivers 97.46 to the nVidia beta drivers 158.18. Despite their wonderful explanation on how to install them, it didn't work at first: my video card was not supported. No problem, I've been a supporting fan of the LaptopVideo2Go website, and they have modified INF files for about every possible nVidia driver release, both official WHQL and beta drivers. So I grabbed a copy of the modified INF for the 158.18 driver and the install went smoothly. The only problem so far is that I can't access the new nVidia control panel, other than that the system runs much more smoothly than with the 97.46 driver and Sleep mode works perfectly so far!

Time will tell if and how good it keeps working, but so far the sky is bright :-)

This obviously leads me to the conclusion that nVidia was, contrary to ATI, totally unprepared for the launch of Vista, although they've had access to the beta and RC versions for months! Just do a Google search on "Vista sleep nVidia problem"... you'll find hundreds of thousands of pages. The machines I've installed or upgraded using an ATI video card never experienced this problem, they just work out of the box. In fact, they've had an WHQL'd driver from the very (consumer) launch of Vista, while nVidia had to catch up weeks and months later.

Another company that is totally unprepared for Vista is Creative Labs, but I'll save that for a future story!

Update: here's my follow-up post about more Vista Sleep problems

Update 2: I published the third post about Vista sleep problems, in which I removed the final culprit and solved the problem completely!

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  Posted by oVan on Friday, April 20, 2007 | PermaLink | 7 comments
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