I'm not sure if this is the appropriate sub-forum as I don't have a BSOD but rather freezing/halting; this seemed like the closest match. It's a consistent problem and occurs after Windows login around 10 seconds into the desktop with background processes loading and such. The mouse cursor stops moving, and keyboard commands do nothing. (Worth noting, I think: the keyboard lights for caps lock etc. are unresponsive, although my mouse continues to show its glowy lights, which are passive.)
The problem seems to be centered around the video card since things are fine with it disabled or with its drivers removed, but nothing seems to be wrong with the card itself since Windows runs fine and I can even play demanding games at high settings after installing drivers—as long as I don't reboot the computer, restarting Windows and passing through that particular moment when the freeze always occurs. Cleanly removing and reinstalling the drivers (and the previous version of the drivers) hasn't solved the problem, so I'm at a loss now.
It took me all day to narrow it down to this point, but I feel like I've investigated this thing as far as I know how. There's something happening when Windows is starting up that interacts with the video card badly and halts the system, but because a freeze doesn't generate an error dump like a BSOD does and there's nothing obvious in the event viewer, I don't know how to continue homing in on the problem. Please help!
(I'll update this thread with a DM log once I get home if I can.)
That's the summary. Here's the full story:
I was testing out different methods and settings for streaming through Twitch today, and while using OBS for an extended period my PC shut down—all at once, like the power cut out, without so much as a blue screen of death. That was a one-time thing, not a recurring problem. After I restarted it, it kept freezing or halting after I logged into Windows, around ten seconds after hitting the desktop while the last of the programs seemed to be starting up in the background. All I can do is a hard shut down by holding the power button. It happens reliably. So I went into Safe Mode and tried to fix it. Ten hours later, I finally have a pretty good idea of where the problem lies but no idea where to go from here.
I have a modest overclock on my CPU, but it's a real bad overclocker and has a knack for discovering new gaming applications that prove it unstable, so I thought that the power cut while streaming must have been due to that (although usually a failure of the OC yields a BSOD rather than a power cut). And thus my first assumption was that the freezing was directly related and also a CPU issue. I tried getting rid of my overclock software that implements the values when Windows starts up, which was really hard to do because you can't uninstall programs in Safe Mode, which is stupid.
Eventually I thought it was a Windows issue; some conflicting processes or whatever. (I should mention that this Windows 10 installation is an unclean upgrade from Windows 8.) I browsed the event viewer and found a recurring error for the PlayStation 3 controller driver I had installed, and I used a command line method of getting rid of it. Didn't help.
I came really close to trying to figure out how to do a Windows repair install from an ISO since that supposedly retains not only files but also programs. (I am super unwilling to give up all of my software; it would take me a week to reinstall and reconfigure everything.) I tried getting rid of other stuff. Then I stopped getting rid of stuff and just turned everything off. I disabled all services and just about all startup software, and yet the problem persisted. Finally, I disabled the display adapter from safe mode, rebooted, and... it didn't freeze. It worked fine.
Okay, so something is wrong with or around my video card. Narrowed it down. I got a tool that completely uninstalls your graphics driver; went into safe mode to use it, reset after the wipe to be proper, and then did a clean install of the driver. It was fine, but then I restarted the computer and it froze again. I went through the process again and turned off everything during the install except for the core driver and PhysX software (so no 3D Vision, audio component, or GeForce Experience). Still froze. I downloaded the previous driver version and did it again with that, and it still froze.
That's where I'm at now. It's stumped me. I can go into safe mode, clean out the driver, restart into normal Windows, install the driver, and play a demanding video game at max settings for twenty minutes with no problem. But if I restart the computer, it will freeze while Windows is starting up. I have tried to purge Nvidia's drivers and software as completely and cleanly as possible before installing the bare minimum anew, and it's just not working. So does this mean that the problem is in Windows and not Nvidia's software or drivers? Where do I begin to look next? Again, I've disabled all startup programs and non-Microsoft services; what more can I do?
(By the way, I did try to do a system restore, but I got an error message after it tried that said there wasn't enough disk space, and after I cleared some up I was dismayed to discover that my restore points were now gone.)