Tuesday, December 15, 2009

NVIDIA 195.81 BETA Driver Released - Still needs work NV...

NVIDIA posted up the 195.81 BETA driver today. Their notes indicate the following:
This driver is identical to the 195.62 WHQL drivers except for the following:

Several bug fixes to support the new Adobe Flash 10.1 Beta 2 release. Learn more here.
Adds new SLI and multi-GPU profiles for Avatar Demo, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising Demo, and Wings of Prey.

Testing is complete and results of my tests appear below. Key areas I test are: functionality with Hybrid SLI, install/uninstall, game performance, 2D performance.

Here is the direct LINK to the driver (USA NVIDIA site).

  • Install:
    Installed without any issues.

  • Stealth Mode & Hybrid SLI:
    Stealth Mode is no longer quirky as with the previous release - see this link for previous test notes/results regarding Stealth. With this release, depressing the Stealth Mode button will disable the discrete GPUs while putting the rest of the unit into the sub 65w power save mode. Depressing the Stealth Mode touchstrip button a second time will prompt you to disable Stealth. Once accepted the system powers up the discrete GPUs and restores the system to full power. The REBOOT requirement is now gone - which is a positive. :)

    Pulling the AC Power Cord does not automatically switch the unit to the Integrated GPU. In previous releases (186.82, 186.91, etc.), this was not the case and when AC was cut, the unit would power down the discrete GPUs and only use the 9400 automatically. This new behavior actually may be intentional. I believe NVIDIA did away with the auto switch functionality. You will need to use the Stealth Mode button or FN+F7. I personally like the auto switch myself.

    Depressing the FN+F7 key works fine and you are able to switch between discrete GPU(s)/9400M G and 9400M G only modes without issue (again, no reboot is required which is nice).

  • Waking from Standby/Sleep/Hibernation:
    No issues.

  • Gaming:
    No issues with FPS in-game. No issues with SLI. Tested with TF2, Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, COD:MW2, TrackMania

  • GPU Clock Rates:
    This is the deal breaker (at least for me) folks. After exiting out of a game and letting the system sit idle for about 10 minutes, I noticed GPU #2 was about 10c higher than GPU #1. Checked clock rates using two instances of GPU-Z. GPU #1 had downclocked properly to 200Mhz/100Mhz while GPU #2 was locked at 583Mhz/950Mhz. So, looks like GPU #2 is failing to accept instruction from PowerMizer to D/C properly. This was an issue with the 195.55 beta release and the follow up 195.62 WHQL release.

    One of the NBR Members posted they do not have an issue with downclocking with the 260M's. Not sure if its a 280M specific issue or if its an issue with the way the member was checking clocks. Either way I am still seeing GPU#2 locked at full clocks after exiting a game. Tested this with both the 9400M G enabled as well as disabled.

  • Screen Flickering:
    I am seeing some odd screen flickering when opening up pages in Internet Explorer 8 with this release. I have not been able to determine the cause to this. The flickering is intermittent and seems to be related to Hybrid SLI and the GPU#2 downclocking behavior.

    Given the downclocking issue carried over from the last two releases and the intermittent screen flickering, I cannot recommend this driver for use with the M17x. I will not be adding it to the lists. Back to 186.82 for me. If NVIDIA fixes the downclocking issue or a work-around is found, I would replace 186.82 as my driver of choice. Come on NV, get with the program.

    Remember, whatever works for you is my motto. If you like this driver and don't care about your second GPU being locked at full clocks after exiting out of a gaming session, then go with it. Its what you prefer. :)

    Russell Smith said...

    Thanks for these posts. Your testing and insight are really helpful.

    Arsenal said...

    this is the best blog for any Alienware M17x owner!!

    Please keep up the good work!

    steve0 said...

    tried it on my 17 and it gave me a black screen and a mouse pointer after reboot - had to re-install the old drivers through safe - mode - it was a real pain in the arse - i agree with batboy.

    stay away until they get them fixed.

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