windowsvistaheroIntroduced with Windows Vista, the timeout detection and recovery (TDR) feature is intended to deal with driver problems or hardware errors without requiring the user to reboot the system. In Windows XP the machine would simply freeze or show a BSOD.

One of the most frequent causes for the TDR error is the lack of adequate power being available for the video card(s). See our page on power supplies..

May who use mid range ($150-$200) video cards often do not buy an adequate PSU to go with it. We recommend selecting a better PSU. Remember that a power supply will be fine initially but after 2 years it may not be able to supply the same level of power.

Overclocking puts additional stress on a power supply so its wise to get a model with double the needed capacity to be conservative.

Be sure to install all service packs and Windows updates. Vista SP1 for example has several patches that affect NVIDIA display adapters. Other patches help Radeon users. Vista is now SP2 and Windows 7 is SP1.

‘Display driver nvlddmkm stopped responding and was recovered.’ (NVIDIA cards)
‘Display driver atikmdag stopped responding and was recovered.’ (AMD cards)
‘Display driver xxxxxxxx stopped responding and was recovered.’ (others)

Also noted as nvlddmkm.sys, atikmdag.sys, and xxxxxxxx.sys bug-check/BSOD.

Generally these do not always mean its the video card’s fault.

One telltale sign is game frame rates falling, its likely a TDR error is not far off. Falling frame rates suggest a CPU or video card is thermally throttling to prevent sxelf destruction.


We suggest using factory defaults if there is any problem. This way it can be more easily narrowed down to the cause.

We also suggest keeping the gaming machine clean. Using an air purifier is an excellent way to reduce dust buildup.


There are many programs available to test a video card.

If the performance of your rig seems underwhelming, check to see the PSU is OK for the stress tests. We use Furmark as its very popular.


Sadly once a video card begins to show TDR problems its usually a clear sign that either the PSU or the video card will need to be replaced. Our own gaming rig showed a TDR problem and a month later the PSU finally failed.


More recently we have discovered malware designed to mine the bitcoins. It uses the GPU to saturation and potentially it can destroy the card. To remove it, most malware tools still do not recognize it:

  1. Configure explorer to show hidden and system files
  2. Open a command prompt and cd/ to the root of C: then run
  3. dir iehigh*.* /s
  4. which will search the hard disk for the malware
  5. Open the task manager and search for iehigh and most likely its a running process
  6. In the start menu in the seach, enter regedit
  7. Search through the registry for iehighutil and delete any entries found
  8. run msconfig
  9. remove iehighutil from the startup

This should remove the malware. Scan your machine with a deep scan to be sure no derivatives or other malware are present.


Searching with Google has found millions of hits with TDR related problems.