WARNING! NVIDIA 196.75 drivers can kill your graphics card

WARNING! NVIDIA 196.75 drivers can kill your graphics card

Summary: I'm getting a steady stream of reports in from NVIDIA users that the latest 196.75 drivers can cause severe cooling problems, even possibly resulting in the death of the hardware.

TOPICS: Hardware

[UPDATE: Information on updated drivers can be found here.]

I'm getting a steady stream of reports in from NVIDIA users that the latest 196.75 drivers can cause severe cooling problems, even possibly resulting in the death of the hardware.

The problem seems to be related to the fan controller, causing the fans to slow down, and even stop. This happening while the card is in use is a very bad thing indeed, and can cause poor performance (as the GPU tries to cool itself down by reducing power) and possibly even overheat your GPU to the point where the card stops working.

NVIDIA 196.75 drivers were released on March 2nd, and have now been removed from the download site. If you are running these drivers it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you uninstall this driver and immediately downgrade to the 196.21 drivers.

Here's the official statement from NVIDIA:

We are aware that some customers have reported fan speed issues with the latest 196.75 WHQL drivers on NVIDIA.com. Until we can verify and root cause this issue, we recommend that customers stay with, or return to 196.21 WHQL drivers. Release 196.75 drivers have been temporarily removed from our Web site in the meantime.

If in the past few days you're upgraded your NVIDIA drivers and your PC has since died (and you're somehow reading this ...) then this could be the cause of your problems. I've already received several reports from gaming enthusiasts who claim that their systems died shortly after installing these drivers, which while not conclusive, is certainly enough indication to me that these drivers could be very toxic and should be avoided.

Topic: Hardware

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  • Yikes

    That's a hell of a problem!
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • Nvidia

      That would explain a lot of oddities. They also make chipsets and maybe GigaByte mobos. Haven't melted anything but have noticed other issues. thanks
  • Thanks for the warning

    Thanks for the warning. I'm currently on the 196.21 drivers. I guess I'll be skipping this version.

    "and your PC has since died (and you?re somehow reading this ?)"

    There's an ever-increasing number of people with more than one computer in the home.

    Especially with gamers (nVidia's primary target market), who may have a laptop for trips and a "monster" desktop for gaming at home. It's still the case that you can fit a lot more horsepower in a tower than in a laptop.

    Also especially with the popularity of netbooks, which serve as a very affordable way to have a second computer.

    Also, it's very common for public areas like shopping malls to have computers.

    Also, especially with ZDNet's tech audience - most people who read ZDNet very likely are very interested in computer and own several.

    So don't be surprised if a lot of people with already fried video cards are indeed reading this!
  • RE: WARNING! NVIDIA 196.75 drivers can kill your graphics card

    I'm running 196.75 without issues. (I'm one of the lucky
    few for whom Windows 7 BSODs regularly, so I'm always
    looking for updated drivers hoping to fix the problem.)

    I have a GTX260.
    • Win7 BSOD (Somewhat off topic...)

      I think it may be related to a software issue where .NET 3.5 (or maybe an earlier version...not quite sure yet) has been corrupted. I just did a fresh install withthe retail version of 7 Ultimate (64 bit) and there are a few programs that rely on .NET 3.5 that won't install(Curse client, Family Tree Maker 10, etc...). I have been getting frequent BSODs as well. When these programs install fine, no BSODs. I hate .NET hehehe.

      I think it is another software package...I am thinking maybe the Roxio software that came with my burner or some other free package that came with one of my pieces of hardware that may be causing the problem. I wish I could narrow it down so I know not to install it.
      • I second that.

        I hate .NET too.
      • Same thing on a couple client systems

        A couple of my clients were having the same issues. A third, with an identical machine, wasn't. The only differences? Nero and Microsoft Security Essentials on the machine without problems. Roxio and McAfee on the machines with. So, you may be on the right track.
        Dr. John
        • Don't use Nero. Or McCrappy.

          CDBurnerXP is far better and a very intuitive gui, Avast, AVG are fantastic for free AV software. If you need to pay then go get the best Nod32. McAffe is about as good as using Flash on an Apple.

          .Net well let's not go there. Nearly as vile as iTunes, iPod, iPad and the rest of the out of date shite from Apple.

          They should not worry about this update though as this will obviously be a push the on/off button to sort it all out resolution. LOL

          Take care all.
          • HA! Good one Horus!..

            I'm not particularly an Apple hater, but I still see mirth in criticism of such!
      • Re: Win7 BSOD (Somewhat off topic...)

        Yeah, I can easily see Roxio screwing things up - they always have on every system I have had the displeasure of having them pre-installed on.

        You can always DL the latest .NET (3.5) from M$ and reinstall it - that should fix all of the issues that you were running into, provided that it was indeed *just* a .NET issue.
      • re: Win7 BSOD (Somewhat off topic...)

        Roxio was crashing my Vista 64 AND Win 7 installs... removed it and the crashes/BSOD's went away
    • Win7 BSOD

      I was having that problem until I turned off the Power management stuff.

      I first set hard drive sleep to never, and the system would still crash. It would crash when the screen went black or while it was at the user prompt screen.

      I set the the monitor sleep to never on February 24th and my system has not crashed since.

      I'm running Win7 x64 on an E-machine that's about a year old.

      I upgraded to Win7 Pro x64 from the 32 bit XP home that came with the system and added a gig of ram. The system runs much smoother with Win7 Pro 64 bit than it did with XP home.

      Hope this little tidbit helps someone.
      • Re: Win7 BSOD

        I am running Windows 7 64bit (clean install) and my system sleeps all it wants to - and I *purposefully* enable screen blank out within 10 minutes to help preserve my pair of Acer 2" widescreen LCDs.

        I'd say the *real* problem (in your case) is that you upgraded from Windows XP - bad mojo for everyone I have seen try it, even with the 'official' Microsoft way.

        I bet you get better results from a clean install (and you can obviously try it without sacrificing your current install - just make a new install using ~20 GB of your HD, the installer will assist you in partitioning it on the fly).
    • BSOD on Windows 7?

      Odd, I've been running Windows 7 since Beta testing early last year without a single BSOD except when I forced 1066 mode on my memory.

      As for this fan issue, I would be interested to know which vendor cards seem to be affected (i.e. ASUS, BFG, EVGA, etc..) or if this is indeed a driver issue explicitly.
  • How about a DDOS...

    Hey, does someone out there want to volunteer to do a DDOS on www . paypalshops .us ? These criminals keep coming back and messing up the Talkbacks!
  • RE: WARNING! NVIDIA 196.75 drivers can kill your graphics card

    Software that can destroy hardware; it's like the POKE that could jack up the clock speed on the old Commodore VIC-20 and permanently burn it out....I wonder how long before someone turns this into a malware payload? I suppose it's mostly all about money for organized crime now, rather than nihilistic cyber vandalism, but if (and when) a full-scale cyberwar breaks out, what better way to win than to burn out the most expensive single component of your enemy's computer? Especially as high end GPU's are starting to be themselves linked into supercomputing networks?

    Note: a hardware update might not even read as MALWARE to security programs.
    • Not so sure it can be easily done...

      Especially with Windows Vista and 7. Both have a serious preference for WHQL tested and approved drivers. The 64 bit version won't even install a driver if it isn't WHQL signed.

      Secondly... Why would the black hats want to do that? There's NO payoff. At least, with a compromised system, they can use it to spam the universe or they can run DDOS attacks on sites. And there's big money in that - or so it seems.

      Given the choice of taking over a computer and using it to make money or burning out a component and killing it, I'm sure most of the bad guys would rather take it over and make some money with it.
      • The 64 bit version won't even install a driver if it isn't WHQL signed.

        I wonder if that's the reason that the Epson Scan setup.exe program will not run correctly and install the drivers.

        You have to do an update drivers in order to install the scan drivers on the all in ones and apparently some scanners as well.
        • Wrong... it will install 64-bit drivers even if not signed

          I install a lot of NVidia drivers that are not WHQL certified with absolutely no problems.