Big Sigh. I’ve been trying to get the Thunderbolt 4 firmware updated on the snazzy new Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 they sent me, but to no avail. Today, I observed that Win10 rollback works but Thunderbolt issues continue. Something gets weird when the PC reboots to do the firmware install. I see a short (and tiny) error message long enough to know it’s there, but definitely not long enough to read it, or interpret its significance.
When Win10 Rollback Works But Thunderbolt Issues Continue, Then What?
First, the good news. I elected to roll back my Windows 11 update on this machine and it not only went well, it finished in under 3 minutes. That’s amazing! It also confirmed that the Windows.old snapshot is of whatever vintage and state the OS was at the time of upgrade. All my account stuff remained clear and workable, thank goodness.
Now, the bad news. I remain unable to complete the firmware update successfully. That means Thunderbolt sees no devices on either of the PC’s two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports. Bummer! It also means I’m sending this fish back to the pond (Lenovo, that is) with a request to return it when THEY can fix this driver issue. For me, Thunderbolt 4 is a big deal. I don’t think I can review this system without a working and capable Thunderbolt 4 connection for me to test performance, throughput, and so forth.
That said, the USB-3 Type A port is remarkably fast. I get better performance out of my old, tired mSATA drives on this machine (Samsung EVO SSDs in Sabrent mSATA enclosures) than I’ve ever seen before.
Do All Things Come to He Who Waits?
I guess I’ll be finding out. Tomorrow, I’ll fire off an email to the reviews coordinator, explain my situation, and let them know I’m sending the laptop back. It will be absolutely fascinating to see how they respond. I’m hopeful I’ll get a fixed (or replacement) laptop soon. If and when I do, I’ll start posting madly about what I see and learn. Right now, I just can’t go forward with a major subsystem on the fritz. Hope that makes sense…
I noticed early this afternoon that my GeForce GTX 1070 GPU needed a driver update. The lead-in graphic shows the download size for the 496.13 version at 830.3 MB. When expanded and installed, that translates into 1.5 GB in the DriverStore (see RAPR screenshot below). That’s why I claim that Nvidia drivers gain considerable heft. The preceding version, as that same screencap shows, weighs in at a slighty-less-ginormous 1.3 GB. Heft!
Driver Store Explorer (RAPR.exe) shows some big driversizes for Nvidia stuff!
[Click image for full-sized view.]
As Nvidia Drivers Gain Considerable Heft, What to Do?
Clean up old ones, obviously! With that kind of space consumption you wouldn’t want to keep too many of them in the DriverStore. I will usually keep the previous version around for a week or so. I’ve been bitten in the past by new driver issues, and have learned to support rollback long enough to make sure everything’s OK.
I can remember only a couple of years ago, when Nvidia drivers routinely weighed in at 600-800 MB each. They’ve doubled in size since then as more bells, whistles and game tweaks get rolled up underneath their capacious umbrellas. Even then, I advised cleaning up if more than 2 copies reside in the DriverStore, and have personally seen that single cleanup maneuver — namely, removing older drivers from the store — free up 3-5 GB of disk space.
Note: by default, Windows 10 or 11 will allow an arbitrary number of versions of the same driver in the store. For big drivers this can produce unnecessary bloat. As you roll new Nvidia (or AMD Radeon) drivers in, make sure you also take the time to roll old ones out. Cheers!
Note: RAPR Pointer
If you’re not already familiar with the excellent Driver Store Explorer tool (aka RAPR.exe), download a free copy from its Github home page. An invaluable tool that I use myself at least once a month. All you have to do is click the “Select Old Driver(s)” button to clean up obsolete driverstore elements.
Back in late August, Microsoft sent an email to Windows Insiders. It indicated that the company would “soon be flighting early development builds in the Dev Channel.” That e-mail was reported by an Italian TV station, HTNovo. In fact, it’s the source for this story’s lead-in graphic. The next line in the email reads “These builds may be less stable…” With the last few (2 or 3) releases, this Dev Channel instability promise starts manifesting itself. At least, on my Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Hybrid Tablet, anyhow.
Dev Channel Instability Promise Starts Manifesting Exactly How?
Two Builds back — namely 22458, installed on 9/17 — I noticed my X12 start getting laggy and draggy. Click on a Start menu item, and there’s a noticeable pause before it opens. Double-click inside an application — Explorer, for example — and it takes one or two seconds for the drive or folder to expand and show its contents.
I’ve also noticed that the Belkin Thunderbolt dock on that PC is running at about half-speed. I’m seeing data transfers closer to 500 Mbps in Macrium Reflect, and around 70-80 MBps in Explorer for large file transfers. Wired Ethernet is topping out at under 100 Mbps on my nominal GbE Internet connection, which routinely delivers 600-800 Mbps on other wired connections. The same dock runs much faster on a Windows 10 PC, and a USB-C NVMe attached to the X12’s other USB C port directly (no intermediating dock) also runs much, much faster.
Learning What “Less Stable” Means
The weird thing is my older, less capable X380 Yoga (8th gen Intel CPU Thunderbolt 3) isn’t slowing down as much as the X12. That newer tablet includes an 11th gen Intel CPU, faster RAM, and a Thunderbolt 4 interface. My gut feeling is that the penalty must be related to newer-gen drivers and interfaces. My hope is that MS works out the kinks sooner, not later.
I installed the latest Build (22468) yesterday. It is much less laggy and draggy than the preceding 22463 and 22458 builds. But it’s still not “nearly instant.” My Beta Channel test PC (another X380 Yoga) is snappy and even a bit faster than it was when running recent Windows 10 builds.
So right now, I’m having fun. I’m observing performance, looking for potential issues and causes, and giving the new builds a good workout. I don’t mind — it’s what I signed up for when I joined the Insider Program. But it is worth noting and reporting on. I’ll keep you posted as things change and develop further. Please: stay tuned!
OK, then. As October 5 gets ever closer, more of the pieces start falling into place. This morning (September 20), Nvidia released GeForce Driver Version 472.12. As you can see in the lead-in graphic for this story, the GeForce download page bills this new offering as a Microsoft Windows 11 Game Ready Driver.
Obtaining the Microsoft Windows 11 Game Ready Driver
The driver weighs in at nearly 723MB (they keep getting bigger, don’t they). You can grab a copy using GeForce Experience or directly from its download page. With two Nvidia-equipped PCs here at Chez Tittel, I was able to confirm that it downloads and installs just fine on both Windows 10 and 11 rigs. I can also say it goes much faster on an 8-core 2021 CPU than a 2014 4-core model.
What Can Go Wrong, Didn’t — This Time
I’ve seen previous GeForce drivers from Nvidia cause occasional Windows problems. These have varied from effects as trivial as momentary screen blinking or blanking to out-and-out BSODs. So far, thank goodness, the 472.12 version seems entirely stable and well-behaved.
That’s good: the last thing users want to face when tackling a new OS is driver problems to make things more interesting. After the official upgrade to Windows 11 comes and goes early next month (October 5), we’ll have a better idea of where production issues may manifest. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the recent trickle of updates from the likes of Intel, AMD, and now Nvidia, as they get ready for an influx of Windows 11 updates. Indeed, I’m sure many are hoping for a flood of Windows-11 ready (and installed) PCs to hit stores and users’ hot little hands this holiday season, too.