We help IT Professionals succeed at work.

Check out our new AWS podcast with Certified Expert, Phil Phillips! Listen to "How to Execute a Seamless AWS Migration" on EE or on your favorite podcast platform. Listen Now


Stop Error: Driver IRQL Not Less or Equal occurs occasionally

mnordby asked
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2011-08-18
I've just built an AMD Athlon 2100 CPU system running Win XP.  Motherboard is an ASUS a7v333, with 512M RAM; Maxtor 80G 7200 rpm HD; Plextor 40 12 40 CDRW; Leadtek WinFast A250 Ultra TD vid card; sound card and gameport are onboard and use C-Media drivers for sound.

Problem is, when using one game (Battlefield 1942) I get a Stop Error, listing the text in the topic.  So far, no other applications I've tried since finishing the computer have caused this trouble.

Microsoft's Knowledge base topics on the IRQL error talk about it being the result of a built-in monitor making sure that drivers don't do things that will cause problems.  The error message, however, doesn't specify which driver is causing this problem.  Any way to find out?
Watch Question

How to Gather Information After a Memory Dump in Windows XP

Download Pstat here
Pstat.exe: Process and Thread Status


Thanx for the help, CrazyOne.
Just to check, the docs on the pstat site rever to it being used for Win 2000.  It will also work on my XP system, right?
Unlock this solution with a free trial preview.
(No credit card required)
Get Preview


Since dealing with these error messages is WAY beyond my expertise with computers, I've decided to simply NOT USE the software causing the problem.  If it crops up again, later, I'll get back into this.  Thanx for helping me come to this resolution!

My experience with the IRQL_NOT_LESS_THAN_OR_EQUAL BSOD has been wide and varied. Windows knowledge base suggests that this is because of two modules trying to access the same IRQ. This error will appear more when using resources that share the same IRQ, i.e. a sound card and video sharing same IRQ will crash system during games and other programs that use these devices more frequently and intensively; where as, running Word or Excel will not show an error. From what I gather, this problem DOES have to do with IRQ’s –rather IRQ levels. Possible situations that cause this conflict would be:
1.     Installation of Roxio products (EZ-CD creator, Video Pack 5.0, etc.) Possible BIOS (aka device drivers) conflicts include: acpi.sys (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) and ntfs.sys (NT File Structure).
2.     Setting CMOS settings incorrectly. Look for PnP OS options, and try to free up IRQ’s for windows to use. Disable COM ports if you do not need them. Try setting OS to PnP. Also, try switching physical locations of interface cards. (The AGP slots in most motherboards share an IRQ with the slot next to it.)
3.     Use of programs that tax system resources. In my case, Pulldown.exe (deals with video encoding), Uudecode.exe (used to combine binary newsgroup posts.), and other DVD tools during the creation of VOB’s.
4.     Bad RAM. Although this is a very rare occurrence, in my experience, it is very possible that bad RAM can cause this error. I have never received a DIMM that was faulty (In 15 years), but I don’t buy cheap DIMM’s either. A colleague of mine says that he corrected this problem after replacing a suspected bad DIMM.
5.     Installation of a new device that has not been properly configured or doesn’t have the correct driver installed. Try freeing up some IRQ’s for the OS to use in the CMOS. Disable COM’s and try to reproduce the error.
6.     Corrupted page file due to improper shut down or BSOD. In XP, Right-click on “My computer”, select “Properties”. Then click the “Advanced” tab, click “Settings” in the “Performance” area and another window will appear. Click the “Advanced” tab. In the “Virtual Memory” section click “Change” button. If you have a custom setting write these numbers down, then tick the “No Page File” button. Click ok-ok-ok. Then reboot the system. Repeat the process except correct the window to reflect your original settings reboot again. Sometimes this will temporarily correct the error.
 Please continue to test and change system setting (as much as you feel comfortable with) until we can reach a final solution to this problem. Don’t tip-toe around suspect programs because they crash, continue to use them and find solutions so we can put an end to this problem.

Hey, I'm experiencing the same type of problem, but it's slightly different.

 I get the DRIVER IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL message every so often, especially when I'm playing games or burning CDs or DVDs.

 I searched the Microsoft Knowledge base, and they said it was a Stop Error 0xD1. Mine says it's a Stop Error 0xB or something like that (I couldn't read the whole thing), and Microsoft has nothing about it in the Knowledge Base.

 Can someone please help me on this? It's very frustrating.


You should enable the option that dumps the core to disk.  That usually takes enough time for you to write down the verbiage :D
jhwats01VMware Architect/Consultant

I've had this exact same problem in the past on both my laptop and my desktop.

Clearing the pagefile as RWatson suggested worked for me in both cases.

Got a problem like this, but with cmedia.sys, anyone knows why with this file?

You can also disable the option to "Automatically reboot" at System failure.  I think that will keep the screen up for as long as you need to write down all the information that the stop error gives you.  Right click My Computer, go to the advanced tab, click "Startup and Recovery" and uncheck "Automatically reboot".

Rwatson has given a comprehensive report of possible issues, and I can see that some people have encountered one or more of these and corrected them.

I would add though that in my experience the issue has almost always tracked back to a bad DIMM in the first instance.  If the machine BSODs and then again shortly after on reboot, then the DIMMs chould be checked.  There are a number of suitable checkers available as Google will show you.

The wrinkle is that once the machine has BSOD'd then often the page file is corrupt.  So, fixing the memory problem by removing the bad DIMM or by repolacing it may not be enough.  You stil need to go through the step of removing and recreating the page file.

In the latest problem, I think the CPU fan may have begun the chain.  It's bearings started to wear and it would slow and occasionally squeak.  The machine had not been in the cleanest of environments, so there was also some dust accumulated betwen the fan and the heatsink.  The DIMM failure meant that some extensive testing with a memory checker called on the CPU to run at 100%, so after a while, the machine would BSOD.  However, the machine had not reported memory errors.  Nonetheless, that was stil my first suspicion having already had errors before one of the DIMMs was pulled.

Multiple reboots later, the fan and heatsink had been cleaned, the fan was being watched, Memchecker did not report memory errors, but the machine would not stay up long enough to soak test the remaining memory.

Removing and recreating the page file, removing all redudant processes, disconnecting from the network and defragging the disk were all needed before the machine would perform in a stable manner.  The OS here was Win 2kServer.

Moral: You might find the cause, but there may well be other issues that you need to review.

I received tht same error maessage when trying to install window on a non-formated hard drive.  My solution that worked for me was to disable bios: caching/shadowing
Unlock the solution to this question.
Thanks for using Experts Exchange.

Please provide your email to receive a free trial preview!

*This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


Please enter a first name

Please enter a last name

8+ characters (letters, numbers, and a symbol)

By clicking, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.