nVidia Driver Notes

I have had some problems in my NF4 based system which I believe I can prove are caused by the nVidia chipset drivers/installer plus some symptoms where I am suspicious but cannot prove that nVidia is the cause. I went to the nVidia mobo forum for help and found lots of company for my misery but not many answers.

I've been watching the nVidia mobo forum for several months now and have noted some common themes in the problems/symptoms reported:

BSOD's after driver installation are common, where the only cure was a clean XP install.

Sometimes a system can change for no apparent reason.

Replacing a mobo with an identical mobo can result in very different symptoms.

A driver may not work when installed by the nVidia installer but work when installed directly.

These examples help to explain why some owners complain bitterly while most can't understand the fuss and may dismiss the complainers as incompetent. There is some unknown factor which causes some situations to fail and seemingly identical situations to work.

I don't have enough experience with forums to determine whether the number of complaints and the issues raised in the nVidia mobo forum are unusual or par for the course but I do find the lack of response to the issues by nVidia surprising.

There are many problems/symptoms reported in the nVidia mobo forum so if you visit, concentrate on threads with over 500 views.

I have attempted to survey and briefly categorize the symptoms reported in the nVidia mobo forum by the particular driver the owner blames; hard to say how good individual owners are at properly determining the underlying cause but in most cases there seems to be a consensus...

nVidia ignores their forums and never responds or participates. Given the number of issues raised in the nVidia mobo forum, I find it surprising that more reviewers of NF3 and NF4 boards don't encounter problems; I am aware of only two such reports. Follow the link near the bottom of the page. Note that the VNF4 review date is later than the 6.53 driver release date (and the reviewer says the fix is not available to the public) so this problem found in January has not had the fix released in mid June...

The second reviewer report concerns difficulty with NAM on x64.

Random Thoughts

Loading nVidia drivers from a CD provided by the mobo manufacturer generally has a good chance of a successful install. This may be because it generally follows a clean install of XP.

Downloading and installing nVidia mobo drivers in place of drivers from the original CD is more frequently unsuccessful; a clean install of XP enhances the chance of success considerably. Once a successful install of a downloaded driver is accomplished then replacement with the next update has an improved chance of success without need of a clean XP install.

If a system has problems related to the nVidia chipset drivers/installer then only occasionally are the problems fixed by upgrading to a newer release. The installer seems to improve with each release but driver related problems don't seem to get much attention.

As of March 2006 there is some indication that the October 2005 release (6.70) was meant to address data corruption due to offloading issues. I haven't found any official info from nVidia admitting there is a problem with offloading, just this second hand info.

It is possible that the "driver" problems encountered are actually due to hardware issues within the nVidia chips (as suggested here) -- the driver programmers may not be able to reproduce and fix these problems because their systems simply don't have them... This would also explain why systems that exhibit problems are seldom fixed by driver upgrades.

Installing nVidia's mobo drivers remains a gamble, where you may improve the odds but there doesn't seem to be any technique which guarantees success.

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