Tag Archives: driver

Creative Labs turning a new page in history?

I’m pretty sure we’ve all had Creative soundcards in our systems at one point. I’ve started with Sound Blaster 128 back in 1998. And continued this with Sound Blaster Live! 5.1, Audigy 4 Value, X-Fi Xtreme Music and Auzentech X-Fi Forte which was based on X-Fi chip, but with higher quality DAC’s, OP-Amps and audio capacitors. I’ve also had Diamond Monster II with Aureal Vortex and ASUS Xonar Essence STX in between, but that’s for some other time.

Things really changed when I’ve gone back to Sound Blaster with the newly released Sound Blaster Z series at that time. These were the first Creative Labs soundcard series which had zero problems on my system with any kind of audio, be it games or general multimedia. I literally never experienced anything serious with it. That was a good start. Then Sound BlasterX AE-5 happened. Probably the most advanced soundcard made by Creative after X-Fi, capable of outputting 32bit audio at 384kHz and having DSP unit capable of processing 32bit 96kHz audio. They crammed really high end components on it, the sorts you find in Class-D amplifiers. It even makes clicking sound as you’re switching audio/speaker modes and it’s switching circuitry, just like on high end amplifiers. But that’s no surprise, Creative has made high end soundcards before…

What’s really different this time seems to be the part which Creative has been lacking for years and decades. Software and tech support. If you got 2 updates a year and actually got a full driver for new version of Windows, it was basically a miracle. Creative just didn’t even bother. Software was often really buggy, problematic to install and use. Tech support? LOL, what is (was) that?

I’ve had Sound BlasterX AE-5 since October 2017 and what I can clearly confirm is the rate at which Creative is releasing updates for it. To this date, I’ve received 5 driver updates since its launch in August 2018. Last one just released on 9th February 2018. That’s more drivers than 2 old series of soundcards from the past combined! In just half a year time. I’ve also contacted their tech support during this time because AE-5 had a bit buggy software since it’s rocking whole new interface. And they always responded within a day and in case of microphone problems even supplied me a solution and in next update fixed the actual issue. They also dramatically improved installer which is ultra fast now and feels way less problematic than before. And for the new Creative Connect 2 control panel, they listened to our wishes and added few things that were necessary but missing at first (like more user defined EQ presets and not just a single “Custom”). And goodies like Filter mode for the DAC’s which just appeared out of nowhere in the Connect 2.

I have no clue how a long term software support for AE-5 will be, but if they continue this trend and actually provide this kind of level of software and support in the future, things are looking pretty bright for Creative. People won’t have to be scared of buying an expensive soundcard and finding out it’s just a nice paperweight after 2 years or when new major Windows version is released. I guess motherboard makers integrating more and more capable soundcards pressured them into being more active with software support if they want to sell more stand alone soundcards.

If you want an excellent soundcard that actually has superb driver support this moment, get Sound BlasterX AE-5 for sure. Time will tell, but this certainly surprised me. It was about time, damn it. ๐Ÿ™‚

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New Sound Blaster Z 13.1.01.10 drivers released!

Been quite a while since last driver release of drivers for Sound Blaster Z. And Creative just released a new update. The changelog is as cryptic as the one ASUS releases for their devices…

Changes for version 13.1.01.10

  • Bug fixes and general improvements for Windowsยฎ 10

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SnailDriver, super fast driver updater

Yeah yeah, I know that is a general belief that these driver updaters are garbage and that they always break stuff. Well, sometimes you have an unrecognized device listed and you can’t figure out which one it is. For such situations, these tools are excellent. Or you’re just one of those freaks like me who just wants all drivers fully updated.

I’ve posted Iobit Driver Booster in the past, but I think this one is even better, easier to use and with less clutter in the interface. Found it today by pure coincidence while I was browsing for some other tools.

It’s called SnailDriver and it’s a small, but very fast and minimalistic driver updater.

SnailDriver.png

I’ve tested it on 3 systems, 1x AMD based and 2x Intel based and it worked pretty damn well. Updated all drivers super fast and with ease and while there were minor issues with the app, they weren’t show stopping problems. It’s a new app, it’ll get fixed soon for sure.

Few minor issues:

  • Intel SST Audio Device driver causes audio device on Windows tablets (HP X2, ACER Iconia W4) inoperable. Had to rollback the driver manually (not an issue with SnailDriver as I’ve experienced it before).
  • System Restore points don’t get created reliably despite this setting being enabled in SnailDriver. I recommend making it manually just to be sure.
  • Sometimes you have to repeat scans to find new drivers that require updating. Not a huge issue, but should be checked.

Give it a try, it’s pretty good and can come in handy quite often ๐Ÿ™‚

Official webpage:

http://snailsuite.com

Installing old Lexmark printer drivers on latest Windows

There is a bit of an issue with Lexmark and existing (older) printers because Lexmark left the consumer market of ink-jet printers and is thus not providing new drivers anymore. Which means you have to use Windows 7 or Windows 8 drivers on newer versions of Windows like latest Windows 10 Anniversary (Redstone). Trying to install it normal way just won’t work, so you have to do several additional steps to make it work.

First, download the latest Lexmark drivers for your device:

http://support.lexmark.com/drivers

Right-click on the downloaded installer and select Properties. Go to Compatibility tab and select Run this program in compatibility mode and select same Windows version as the driver was designed for. In my case, it was Windows 8 for my rather old Lexmark X3650.

Lexmark_Compatibility.png

In the past, it used to work even without this step, but with Windows 10 Redstone, this isn’t the case anymore. At least for me that is…

Temporarily disable Windows driver signing check

This step is critical, otherwise the installation of driver will fail since it is not designed for the latest Windows.

To do this, follow these steps:

  • Hold Shift key and click Restart button that you’d otherwise use to simply restart the computer (holding Shift key will open a special recovery menu).
  • Select Troubleshoot
  • Select Advanced options
  • Select Startup Settings
  • Click Restart
  • Press F7 key on keyboard to select Disable driver signature enforcement

System will restart and start in a mode with driver signature check disabled just for this session. After you restart the system again, this feature will automatically turn itself back on again!

Installing the driver

Firstly, make sure you don’t have printer connected with USB cable to your PC. Yes, this is not a typo. Lexmark requires driver installation prior physical connection, otherwise you’ll experience problems.

After you have disabled Driver signature enforcement and made sure it’s not connected to PC with USB cable, you can start the installer with compatibility mode already applied to it (as shown above). Follow the instructions of the installer.

Lexmark_Installation.png

It is possible there will be an error message during driver installation, but you can just dismiss it, it’ll still work just fine.

You may also get popup like this (example from Windows 8.x):

Lexmark_UnsignedDriver.png

Don’t worry, this is normal since we have disabled driver signature enforcement. Confirm the installation of the driver. If you do not do this, printer won’t work!

When driver installation is complete, Lexmark driver installer will ask you to connect printer with USB cable to your PC. Do so and wait for a moment for it to recognize it.

Setting printer as default device

It is possible that driver won’t set your newly installed Lexmark printer as your default printing device.

Go to Start and then Settings. Select Devices button, select the Lexmark printer and click Manage button. Select Set as default. That’s it.

Finishing installation

We’ve finished everything already, just make sure to restart your system in order to re-activate Driver Signature Enforcement feature. It is really not recommended to run system this way other than for such specific tasks as installation of trusted but old driver.

Final word

I have an old Lexmark X3650 that I use for making copies and printing using just black cartridge, because I just don’t need color printing. And I was this close of throwing the damn thing through the window because it kept on failing to install the driver, but then I gave it one more try and then I figured it out with the compatibility step. Would be a shame since it’s scanning stuff really nicely, printing stuff nicely as well and I’m using its card reader as general purpose SD card reader. So, despite the age, it’s actually a really nice device with quite cheap cartridges. It would really be a shame throwing it away. So, I’m kinda happy that I’m this determined for certain things and I got it working again. I hope this guide will help you get your Lexmark printer working again even on latest Windows. ๐Ÿ™‚

AMD resolved PCIe power draw issue on RX480 with new driver

I’ve posted initial findings about the excessive PCIe power draw issue here. AMD promised a fix for it and today they’ve delivered it in a form of a new driver.

Like I’ve predicted, modern graphic cards have very flexible power delivery system and Polaris is no different. What AMD did here was rearrange the power delivery between PCIe slot and 6pin power connector. Now, Radeon RX480 draws power from PCIe slot within specified limits and draws a bit more from 6pin. Officially 6pin is rated at 75W, but can realistically deliver up to 150W. So, redirecting power like this solves the initial problem while doesn’t impair performance at all.

AMD did provide additional “Compatibility Mode” which restricts power usage even further. I frankly don’t think anyone should ever enable this, but if you feel like saving some extra watts, you can enable it in Radeon Settings.

To verify the fix, TechPowerUp ran a test and everything is in order just like AMD promised.

You can read the TechPowerUp re-test here.

The PCIe power draw fix is included in AMD Radeon Crimson Edition version 16.7.1, so make sure you upgrade the drivers asap. Btw, AMD dropped a small 3% performance boost for popular games in this driver so even if you use Compatibility Mode, you shouldn’t see any performance difference.

I really like the way things turned out here. Firstly, for reviewers to point out the issue and secondly for AMD to professionally fix it. An the ones who benefit from all this the most are us, the customers. Yay ๐Ÿ™‚

NVIDIA ForceWare 368.39 drivers causing problems

I’ve been having hard times figuring out random “The stub received bad data” errors as well as random failing of Task Scheduler service.

stub_bad_data.png

Event Viewer was also getting filled with “Faulting application name: svchost.exe_wuauserv” in connection to NVIDIA’s “nvwgf2umx.dll”.

With more digging I’ve uncovered that ForceWare 368.39 drivers are indeed bugged (probably entire 368.xx series), but didn’t know what exactly.

With more Googling and later testing myself, I can confirm it’s caused by “MFAA” setting. If you leave it off (default state when drivers are installed clean) everything will be fine. But if you change it, it will corrupt the settings and cause all these problems.

NVIDIA is already aware if it and they are working on it, till they release a fix, best way to get this stupid crap resolved is to disable MFAA. If that doesn’t help, reinstall drivers, use reset settings to default during installation and never turn it on (for now at least). You can adjust everything else, just leave MFAA alone.

I’ll keep you posted about the updated driver which includes an actual fix for this mess.

New Sound Blaster Z 13.1.01.08 drivers released!

It has been almost a year since last Sound Blaster Z driver release and despite being totally problem free, new drivers are always welcome. I love hoarding fresh drivers ๐Ÿ˜€

Anyway, Creative hasn’t released anything specific, just “bug fixes and general improvements” for this new drivers release version 13.1.01.08. Which basically means these drivers give you 300% more framerate ๐Ÿ˜€ Just kidding. ๐Ÿ™‚

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