Did my computer drink too much caffeine?

I recently starting having a strange problem. Video on my computer became “jerky.” For example, things would look normal for about a second but then the video would “pause” for a fraction of a second before resuming. The audio was just fine, but I kept seeing this slight “jerk” in everything I looked at, including TV (WinTV, from my cable input), video files (both VLC and PowerDVD), as well as computer games.

I can’t say when this started exactly, but I’m guessing a couple of months ago. It didn’t make things unviewable, but the more it happened, the increasingly annoyed I became with it. Finally, I’d had enough. I hunted down the problem and fixed it.

The problem was related to the “NVIDIA High Definition Audio” driver. When I removed this, and rebooted, the jerkiness disappeared. I’ve had my graphics card for a while now, and things used to work just fine. I don’t what changed, but this was the culprit. (I don’t need that driver anyway, since I use HDMI-connected Bowers & Wilkins speakers—which I think are fabulous.)

That would have been the end of the story except that, shortly after this was resolved, I noticed that the jerkiness had returned—as had the audio driver. Some process on my computer was automatically reinstalling it. Whether it was an NVIDIA driver update, or something that Windows itself was doing, I wanted to prevent this from happening again.

To fix it, I ran Device Manager, observed that my video card was on PCI bus 1, and then disabled the entry for the “High Definition Audio Controller” that was also on PCI bus 1. After doing this, the custom installation of the NVIDIA graphic driver no longer indicated an option for its high definition audio component, and it never reappeared in my list of installed software.