Are ATI and Nvidia doing enough with their Vista drivers?

Are ATI and Nvidia doing enough with their Vista drivers?

Summary: ATI and Nvidia have released new WHQL-certified Windows drivers for their flagship video cards. In the past three months, both companies have been delivering a steady stream of new drivers. Are those updates enough to quiet the critics?

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TOPICS: Windows, Microsoft
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I spent the weekend setting up some new hardware. One change was to add a PCI Express graphics card to a system that had been using onboard graphics (primarily so I could use two monitors with it).

After completing the upgrade, I noticed that this ATI X1300 card was still using the in-box Vista driver, so I went looking for a new one, and found that ATI released new Catalyst 7.5 display drivers last week, on May 31. They installed just fine here. If you’ve got an ATI card, take a look:

Catalyst 7.5 Display Driver for Windows Vista (32 bit)

Catalyst 7.5 Display Driver for Windows Vista (64 bit)

Each page contains release notes and a link to an RSS feed so you can find out immediately when the next update is released.

Not to be outdone, Nvidia released their own updated drivers for the GeForce 6, 7, and 8 series one day later, on June 1. Here are the links:

ForceWare Release 158 Version 158.24 (32–bit)

ForceWare Release 158 Version 158.24 (64–bit)

I can’t find an RSS link for Nvidia news, only for podcasts. But the bottom of the driver download page has a link you can use to get on Nvidia’s e-mail list for updates about drivers.

Both of these companies released their original WHQL-certified drivers in late February. In the three months since then, ATI has had three major updates, and Nvidia has had at least two updates with frequent beta releases. Back in April, Nvidia users were frustrated enough by the poor state of Vista drivers to consider a class-action suit. Dave Wascha, Microsoft’s director of partner platform marketing, told Mary Jo Foley last month that he was he was “’really pleased’ by Nvidia's cooperation and said the Nvidia 8800 drivers, still in beta ‘are working really, really well.’”

I’ve heard lots of complaints about Vista graphics drivers, especially from the gaming community. Any gamers out there want to comment on whether these updates represent a real improvement?

Topics: Windows, Microsoft

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47 comments
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  • NVIDIA drivers killed my 64-bit Vista

    This isn't specific to graphics drivers, but when I installed the NVIDIA 64-bit Vista motherboard drivers for my nForce4 motherboard, Vista stopped loading. Keeping in mind that 64-bit Vista was working beforehand (other than abnormally slow disk access time, which prompted the driver update).

    If I remember correctly, it was the storage controller driver that caused the problem. I can't remember for sure though, this was months ago. I switched to 32-bit Vista and the NVIDIA drivers worked fine. I did some research online and found a lot of people had problems with the 64-bit version of the drivers. NVIDIA released those bad drivers back in February and have yet to update them.

    I know it?s an older chipset, but come on NVIDIA, if you aren?t going to put out drivers that work, don?t put out anything at all.
    ITguy5678
    • NVidia Driver Hell

      I have a 7600 running with Vista 32 bit, using the latest driver and it's annoyingly unstable. The driver crashes easily within 30 minutes of starting up (usually less), and then goes on a downward spiral crashing every 5-10 minutes. When it doesn't crash, I get tons of random artifacts like menus and some windows becoming entirely black. My sad work around is to press CTRL+ALT+DEL, switch users, and log back in. Playing games is equally frustrating and the drivers often crash, pause the game, and then resume after a few seconds. The only thing I can say is that at least with the new driver model in Vista the driver crashing doesn't take down my entire system. It's the only reason I haven't run screaming back to XP until things start working again.
      Yensi717
      • Vista Sucks

        Been using it for a month now on a test system....I see zero reason for any home user/gamer to upgrade to it unless they want to shell out a bunch of money to replace apps that work under XP (like Nero and Symantec Antivirus), upgrade hardware and still risk not having a stable system due to it being so overbloated.

        Can't wait to switch back to XP...nice to have a large site license for XP Pro :).
        itanalyst
        • Is it really that bad?

          I was going to switch all of our Linux machines back to Windows, and I was pondering the notion of upgrading to Vista. Once I re-install the original drives with XP still on them, maybe we will just upgrade a few to Vista, just to determine if Vista is as bad as you decry
          GuidingLight
          • Drivers not Vista

            I'm complaning about NVIDIA drivers, not Vista. Now that I'm on 32-bit Vista, everything is fine. And after using Vista for a while, I like it more than XP. It isn't better by leaps and bounds; things are subtly improved.
            ITguy5678
          • I agree - love it.

            I was a huge fan of XP...loved it. Now that I have Vista - I love it more. Stable and works great.
            fr0thy2.
        • There's your problem...

          Symantec Antivirus: that causes more crashes than friday night happy hour!
          itpro_z
        • Sorry to hear that mine has been great...

          I have Vista Ultimate 32 and it's running great. nVidia was a problem at first but it's been fine and the 6/1 drivers installed great. If I can get Realtek to catch up I would be pefect. I did disable some services on Vista, that were not needed and caused problems, but I had the same problems with XP. It's been GREAT. Zippy and stable.
          fr0thy2.
  • ATI 64 bit driver

    I am running 64-bit Vista with a Radeon X300 (I know, not the best card), and have nothing but trouble at the higher resolutions. The original Vista driver was far better then any of the ATI drivers I have tried. It freezes the screen, stops refreshing, and will eventually lead to me having to power down my system just to get back to being able to see a screen.

    I am really annoyed, but I am hopeful they will resolve this soon. My best guess is that the problem is related to the sharing of RAM, the card is a 128Mb card and it has the ATI feature to share another 128 from system memory. I assume this is where the problem is because of the fact it only manifests at higher resolutions, or higher color depths.

    Anyone had similar experiences? Or ideas on what I can try? I am close to just replacing the card.
    davismw@...
  • Wait before jumping in

    Video drivers these days are like Microsoft Windows Updates: You probably don't want to install them right away, because they're equally capable of messing with your system. Hang back and read the problems that others are having first. For ATI, the rage3D.com forum is excellent.
    rseiler
  • No All-in-Wonder support

    I have an All-in-Wonder 9600 running on a Vista Ultimate machine on my TV, and while the display drivers have worked perfectly since I installed Vista, there is zero support for the TV Tuner or the video capture which pretty much reduces the card to just a regular Radeon 9600. Between that, the lack of support for my Logitech diNova, and problems with Vista Media Center freezing, I'm thinking of switching back to Media Center 2005.
    dhjames
    • I've asked about it . . .

      I've asked ATI/AMD reps about the lack of tuner support and I get the "not at this time mumble mumble mumble" response. When asked if there will EVER be support, I get the equivalent of a stony stare.

      I suspect there will NEVER be support, but AMD/ATI doesn't have the cajones to say that definitively.
      dwight.silverman@...
      • I think I'd fire the support staff for mumbling...

        Geez...
        Grayson Peddie
  • NO!

    Nothing more need be said.
    BitTwiddler
  • Installed new ATI then rolled back

    I installed the new ATI driver today. It screwed up the contrast and brightness on my second monitor, making the screen muddy and dark. For the first time in Vista I actually rolled back a driver update to an earlier and better driver. My monitors are back to what I had before the "update".

    ATI and NVIDIA are screwing up. Their slow development and release of drivers and in addition ATI/AMD dropping multimedia support for All-in-Wonder boards is deplorable.
    RickyF
  • Based on the support forums, no.

    I can only speak to Nvidia since I currently own an 8800GTS. Everything works great, that is until I launch my games. For example, BattleField 2 randomly crashes with the dreaded "video driver has stopped responding".

    If you're interested in the gory details, checkout the Nvidia support forums. There are two threads, one 58 pages and the other 88 pages deep. Number of views for each thread are 118,000 and 145,000, respectively. A good measure of the poor state Nvidia drivers are in for gamers...

    http://forums.nvidia.com/index.php?showtopic=24917&st=1740
    http://forums.nvidia.com/index.php?showtopic=25381&st=1140
    in2moni
  • That's because...

    ...they're busy working on their Linux support! Ba-da bing, ba-da boom! lol.
    Chad_z
    • That is so true

      and givnen a couple of years they may actually create a driver that Linux can handle
      GuidingLight
  • Message has been deleted.

    ballmerrules@...
    • _Stop_ _posting_ _crap!!!_

      Your blog is stupid, posing as Steve Ballmer.
      Grayson Peddie