March 16, 2012

Next Stop: TDR

Well, the crashes continue.  I've started a new Skyrim character and while it works fine 99% of the time, there's still the occasional jarring crash.  I've experimented with hardware, bought a new PSU, tried to work with Bethesda, all to no avail.

While I continued researching, trying to find commonalities between the reported crashes, I ran across something called "TDR" (Timeout Detection and Recovery) used in Microsoft Vista and beyond.

Right now, I'm going to experiment with disabling this feature.  The theory is that if the video card is busy, it cannot respond to the OS in the time and the OS will then send a restart command to the video card.  Right in the middle of Skyrim, this cannot be good.

To disable TDR in Windows Vista and Windows 7, either change or add the registry settings described in the link above.  For me, I set "TdrLevel" to "0" to disable it altogether.  I'd rather get a blue screen than what I'm getting now.


  1. Skyrim 1.5 came out on Steam last night (beta) and I got about 3 hours of straight play in. That's happened before, so I don't want to celebreate yet, but I'd love to hear if it changes your experience at all.

  2. Thanks for the heads up! I generally don't use beta updates, but in this case I'm curious to see if:

    * General crash fixes and memory optimizations

    makes a difference.

    I can tell you though that since disabling TDR, the crashing is more video card focused; meaning the video goes out, but the sound continues and the keyboard still responds. Previously, it would go straight to a bad state.

    What I think is happening: the video card enters a bad state. Previously, TDR would kick in and try to recover the video card, which would cause it to hang. Now, it enters a bad state and just gets into a super bad state since TDR is not there to catch it.

    Naturally, I'm running more video card centered stress tests to see if I can get it to happen outside of Skyrim (I STILL have zero issues outside of Skyrim).

    If this turns out to be a bad video card, I will send a long mea culpa to the Bethesda Support folks as well as the other forums I've visited. If it turns out to be the "General crash fixes and memory optimizations" I will curse the Bethesda folks as I drink a beer. Then I'll send them a "tua culpa" email.


Please be helpful and courteous. Thanks!