Resolved: Intel admits flaw in Graphics Memory Controller Hub (see item 10 on page 14 of http://www.intel.org/Assets/PDF/specupdate/320123.pdf).
Workaround: Have same size memory in both slots (upgrade from 3GB to 4GB total), or only one memory slot used (downgrade from 3GB to 2GB), or disable Intel Virtualization Technology (VT-d) which some models of computer have BIOS setting for, and others require a BIOS update to accomplish. Dell has been providing BIOS updates for some notebook models, and memory upgrades for others. This defect affects many brands and models of computers with the Intel GM45/GS45 Express Chipset.
Also see updates at end of this post
Please, I want to know if other Studio 1537's with integrated Intel GMA 4500MHD graphics exhibit the problem mine does -- is this a software/driver problem or do I have a hardware malfunction. I describe below a test you can do on your Studio 1537.
My month old Studio 1537 experiences intermittent but frequent graphics corruption while using Direct3D graphics when using any of four video/graphic Intel GMA driver updates that are newer than the original driver that came with the computer. The "Performance Information and Tools" control panel also shows a significant drop in measured performance with the newer drivers. Dell Tech Support tells me they don't know of any such problem with the video drivers supplied on Dell Downloads. At first, I thought it may be related to other changes or additions I had made with the system, but have since tried a fresh install of Vista Premium SP1 on an external eSATA drive (so that I wouldn't have to do a PC-Restore as Dell Tech Support wanted me to do) followed by the careful installation of necessary drivers in the sequence specified by Dell Article ID 296410. After installing any of the newer graphics driver packages, the problem still occurs.
So far, I know of two ways to see the problem with standard applications supplied with Windows Vista Premium SP1: 1) Photo Screen Saver in Collage theme (which uses Direct3D), 2) game Purple Place In fact, running both at the same time seems to increase probability of seeing corruption. For Photo Screen Saver, right-click on desktop - Personalize - Screen Saver - select Photos from drop-down list - enter Settings - select theme Collage, slide show speed Fast - Save. Click Preview to test. To make test more rigorous, click Start - Games - Purple Place - start playing game - while game is running, click Screen Saver Setting in taskbar and click Preview. On my system, the photos often have an intermittent corruption that shows small portions of the photos mislocated in a fine checkerboard pattern similar to an address line/bit malfunction. Some photos will sometimes flicker back and forth between clean and corrupt rapidly on my system. The Purple Place game also often shows corruption with graphic elements intermittently corrupt with pixels mislocated. These symptoms really look like a hardware malfunction, but when the machine is running with the original driver the fault doesn't happen. Are the newer drivers using the hardware in a different way that is exposing a hardware fault, or are all of the newer drivers faulty? If a few people can help by confirming whether they do or don't experience this problem, then I can conclude whether I have a unique hardware fault or not. If I'm not the only one with the problem, then Dell and Intel need to know about it.
To find your current graphics driver version, do Control Panel - Device Manager - Display Adapters - double-click Mobile Intel(R) 4 Series Express Chipset Family (if yours isn't this then your system doesn't apply) - Driver tab - examine Driver Version. My original, works-okay-version is 22.214.171.1248 dated 6/20/2008 and provides a Windows Graphics Performance Information measurement of 3.8. Two versions I tried that came from Dell Downloads, one ending in 1545 (titled GM45 Video in Dell Downloads, and providing a 3.4 graphics performance score), and one ending in 1576 (titled Mobile Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD, and providing a 3.4 graphics performance score), both exhibit the malfunction. I tried two newer yet versions from Intel downloads for the Mobile Intel® 4 Series Express Chipset Family (which the GM45 in the Studio 1537 is a member of the family), one is a Nov '08 release with version number ending in 1591 (providing 3.4 Graphics score), and the other is a Dec '08 release with version ending in 1608 (provides a low 3.1 Graphics score). Both of these exhibit the graphics corruption malfunction, too. If I uninstall the new driver (using the Programs and Features control panel), reboot, and reinstall the old original driver, the problem goes away. It seems very strange that the Windows Graphics Performance Information measurement is going down with the newer drivers. Does your machine exhibit this opposite of usual driver update behavior?
I will really appreciate any input, opinion, advice I receive on this issue. I don't want to have to ship this computer off for a Dell Depot repair or replacement if there isn't truly a hardware fault. This Studio 1537 has already been repaired twice by BancTec in-home service in its short one month life -- first to replace an intermittent DVD drive, and second to repair damage done by the first technician.
I was supposed to ship this computer to my Sister to be received about a week before Christmas. What a nightmare this has been. This intermittent graphics corruption problem has been exceedingly difficult to troubleshoot and draw meaningful conclusions.
Thanks in advance,
UPDATE Nov 23, 09: Problem seems to be "solved" by removing the 1GB memory stick as recommended recently in this thread and elsewhere. Now the question is whether the problem is caused by having two sticks of RAM, or by having mismatched (2Gb & 1GB) sticks, or by a particular brand/model of memory, or by some driver or OS problem that shows up with certain amounts of memory. I think it's a hardware problem that is aggravated by various software configurations and usage scenarios.
If replacing the 1GB stick with a 2GB stick also solves the problem, then I agree with others who have said Dell should AT LEAST send us a 2GB memory stick free of charge. Personally, I think that for all they've cost me and all the time wasted, they should offer some greater form of compensation, such as a full price trade-in towards any product(s) I want to buy.
I kick myself for not thinking of trying removing the 1GB memory stick ten months ago. Since the hardware was under warranty, I let Dell do all the hardware troubleshooting. In hindsight, though, it should have been a natural thing to try. I didn't touch the cursed notebook for about eight months --I was just too fed up with it and Dell, plus I had a serious health problem that caused me to not want any more annoyance and aggravation during that time. Sorry for not participating in this thread until now. BTW, my sister has been happy with her Mac notebook that I purchased for her because of this problem.
Thanks to those who have been contributing and at least to some degree figured out a problem that Dell should have a loooong time ago.
My memory sticks are "Hynix 1GB 2Rx16 PC2-6400S-666-12, HYMP112S64CP6-S6 AB-C 0834" & "Hynix 2GB 2Rx8 PC2-6400S-666-12, HYMP125S64CP8-S6 AB 0832"
UPDATE Nov 26, 09: Dell called me this morning to tell me they have found the cause of the problem, and that a fix is expected to be released on Dec 4th -- a BIOS update. I was told that the problem may occur with the chipset used in the Studio 1537 (and other models) when the integrated graphics is used along with a 3GB memory configuration. This news comes to me one year to the day since I purchased this computer, and more than ten months since contacting Dell Tech Support about the problem. Without the Community Forum, the many irate voices, and troubleshooting efforts by some to focus the problem on memory malfunction -- thanks to all of you -- I think Dell would have sloughed it off forever.
Dell seriously needs to examine their policies, procedures, and practices regarding unresolved technical problems, as well as their handling of dissatisfied customers. That it took this long to give this problem the attention it deserved is shameful and disgusting. They just quit trying to fix the problem, and wouldn't allow me to return the computer for a refund, or trade for a different model. I started to get legal help to resolve the problem, but in February I was diagnosed with a serious medical problem. The Studio 1537 just sat on a table, not being used, for about eight months.
The Studio 1537 was supposed to be a Christmas present for my sister -- my selecting it, ordering it, paying for part of it, and preparing it and testing it to try to assure it would be a good computer for her. It turned out to be a nightmare. I put a lot of time into preparing the computer before the graphics problem was detected, including having Dell replace a defective DVD drive, and come back again to repair damage done to the computer during the first repair. The graphics defect appeared when I thought I was almost done, upon setting up a bunch of old family photos as a screen saver as part of my gift. I wasted a tremendous amount of time trying to resolve the problem or trying to prove to Dell that it was a hardware problem. I wasn't going to give my sister a defective computer. I had little use for it, especially since I didn't trust its reliability. It would have been very difficult to sell a defective computer -- so it sat. If the BIOS fix works okay, I will probably try to sell it, but I imagine I will lose about half its purchase price.
It's no wonder why Dell's reputation has declined so much. Dell could be a great company again, but it's going to take good leadership from the top.
UPDATE Dec 17, 09: After updating to the new Intel video driver a couple of weeks ago (v126.96.36.1998 11/30/2009 from the Studio 1737 driver downloads), I reported to the Dell Tech Support manager handling my case, Inam, that the problem persists and asked when an updated BIOS would be released for the 1537 as was done for the 1737. He called me this afternoon to tell me that Dell isn't currently planning on updating the BIOS for the 1537 because they don't have sufficient complaints to warrant it. They seem to have more problems with the 1737 model. Without a forthcoming BIOS update, to resolve my case, Inam offered to upgrade my memory from 3 GB to 4GB by mailing me a 2GB stick and having me return the 1GB stick to them. Thanks Inam for taking action to conclude this nightmare -- at least for me.
I wonder how many other people have problems, and don't know it, maybe not till they upgrade to Windows 7 or update their display driver. If a BIOS upgrade can fix this problem, I think it would be wise of Dell to do it as soon as possible so their customer's have their computers work as expected and not have to deal with troubleshooting a strange problem. I had two different main boards and two different sets of memory have exactly the same problem, so I don't think this is an uncommon malfunction with the 3GB memory configuration. I think it's a poor reflection on Dell that they don't care enough about their customers to provide a known fix to the BIOS to prevent future problems and be able to have a quick answer available when a customer calls in with the problem. I believe this 3GB memory malfunction is a serious problem that deserves a fix just based on common sense ethics.
UPDATE Jan 6, 10: Upgrading from 3GB to 4GB memory has solved the problem for my Studio 1537. This appears to have worked well for many others, too.
I did a clean install of 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade (which I preordered in August for $50 for this purpose) on the Studio 1537 using an 80GB Windows partition and a 208GB Data partition. Since Dell doesn't support Windows 7 on a Studio 1537, it's necessary to get various drivers and updates from the Studio 1737 Windows 7 64-bit downloads (and ignore the fact that the Studio 1537 isn't listed as compatible even though it's internally basically the same as a 1737), and/or get drivers or updates from chip manufacturer web sites (e.g. there is a recent INF Update utility and newer video/graphics driver on the Intel site for the Mobile Intel® 4 Series Express Chipset Family). Note that Dell only provides drivers for the Studio 1737 for 64-bit Windows 7, not 32-bit (which with 4GB of memory, you probably don't want to use anyway). It took some effort but the result seems to be working very well. Be aware that some of the Dell supplied utilities with Vista aren't available for Windows 7. One new application on the Dell Studio 1737 downloads is Sonic Solutions Roxio Burn. It's a nice improvement over what was provided with the Studio 1737, but if you need a free DVD burning app with more capability, I recommend ImgBurn (http://www.imgburn.com/). I haven't really used the upgraded system much because I'm selling the computer, and keeping it close to a clean fresh minimal system to make it easier to sell. It appears, though, that the combination of 4GB memory and 64-bit Windows 7 is a major upgrade for this computer that provides a much nicer user experience and improved performance.
Dell not supporting Windows 7 upgrades on the Studio 1537 is another reason to criticize them. The Studio 1537 seems to be an abandoned product in this respect. I think they know that upgrading a Studio 1537 to Windows 7 will expose the graphics corruption malfunction because the driver included with Windows 7 will cause the problem for most, if not all, with 3GB of memory.
Thanks to all who have helped force a resolution to this problem.
hey man i have the same problem wit hthe graphical corruption. But only in windows 7. Happens at random times and as soon as i start purple palace.
BUT in Vista, im running driver version 188.8.131.526 (found via device manager, under display adapters) and do not seem to experience this problem, at least not when i run purple palace.
But in win7 im running a far newer driver 184.108.40.2060 driver date 12/17/2008, and experiencing the problem. Im really not happy with this laptop, and almost want to go back to my old trusty 2 year old acer. Also the build quaility is very low on this machine.
Lemme know how its going for you.
Nice to hear from you. Does the corruption look like the screen captures I posted on Get Satisfaction forum?
Have you tried the screen saver as I described in my post?
The ...1576 driver fails on my computer. Windows 7 beta fails too.
If you can test Vista more, possibly for a longer period, and try running Purple Place then start the photo screen saver in collage mode where it puts up four photos overlapping at various angles, and watch it for quite awhile, that would be great. It would be super to be able to tell Dell that it;'s not just my computer.
My sister now has one of the new Apple White MacBooks. The Dell Studio is still sitting here not being used.
Ok even with 1576 i was able to reproduce the problem. The corruption, which is similar to yours. Purple palace is not doing it, but running the photo screen saver, with the sample pictures that default with windows. During transitions i get the corruption. but only sometimes.
Sometimes it happens and remains on the picture, Somtimes it 'snaps' away. Sometimes it happens and becomes slightly better but still there.
I does not happen for every picture. Some do it but not everytime.
This is a big problem, and needs to be resolved. I am very displeased.
I had this problem with my three-month-old studio 1537. When I called tech support to get it resolved, they tried to remotely update my driver and blew out my motherboard in the process. I hope you get better assistance than I did. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do now. The small annoyance turned into a huge problem.
Just a FYI for you guys; encountered this same problem after a Win 7 upgrade from Vista.
Saw a number of sugestions in other discussions that did not fix it:
1. Turn off Virtualization in the BIOS (Not an option on the A09 version for 1537 with a T5800 chip, it's already off)
2. Turn off 3-d acceleration features (All the options I tried did not solve the problem).
3. Update to intel's latest video driver - Go to Intel's site search for 4 series express; there is a tool to see if you have the latest; Dell's version wasn't the latest. Updated but problem remained.
What FINALLY worked was disabling Aero features. Unfortunantely that disables the window preview function when you hover the mouse over the LHS icons, but at least I can read the screen all the time.
We experienced exactly this issue. After trying all available drivers (Dell, Intel) and different OS (Vista, Windows 7 32 bit, Windows 7 64 bit), spending hours with Dell support we got absolutely nowhere.
The solution? RAM - as reported by bub181 and kevaj76. Our system had 3Gb RAM. 2Gb+1Gb, different sizes, different manufacturers. Removing the odd sized 1GB RAM chip left us with a 2GB system, but with perfectly stable graphics. I've no doubt using matched memory modules in each slot would also resolve the issue.
So it's a hardware fault, that can be blamed squarely on Dell's configuration of the system. Poor design, insufficient testing and ineffective, time wasting support, including an attempt to charge us a £59 support fee.
Maybe 20-30 wasted hours, and that of countless other users, on a fault that Dell must be aware of. Not a great way to encourage repeat business.