pulled out an old laptop (win7) and ran linux livecd on it...surprised that linux detected the graphics card and was able to run several demanding 3D apps...
I originally thought the integrated gfx card was broken because Windows 7 suddenly stopped detecting it and reverted to generic VGA (and all 3D apps ceased working).
I even uninstalled and reinstalled the drivers + upgrade + registry cleanout -- none of which solved the issue.
There was only once when it reinstalled and detected...but after a restart it would revert to driver not found.
And opening the driver info always said theres a problem w/ the driver. I had tried 20 different methods to reset it - none worked - card still undetected.
This happened a while back after win7 auto-installed driver update overnight - rolling back was no use.
Driver had worked great on win7 for many yrs without issue before auto-update.
But since Linux is able to detect the card, I believe the issue is w/ Windows and not the hardware.
How to reset this so windows can detect the card? Technically it was win7 auto-update that seemed to screw it up.