Saturday, December 05, 2009

NVIDIA releases 195.62 WHQL mobile driver - EPIC FAIL #2

NVIDIA posted the 195.62 WHQL driver today. Highlights include:
- Adds GPU-acceleration for smoother online HD videos with the new Adobe Flash 10.1 beta. See this link for PROPER SUPPORT of 10.1.
- Adds support for DirectCompute with Windows 7.
- Adds support for OpenGL 3.2.
- Adds support for OpenCL 1.0.
- Adds support for CUDA Toolkit 3.0 features and performance enhancements.
- Adds SLI and multi-GPU support for many top new gaming titles including Borderlands, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, FIFA Soccer 10, and more.
- Includes numerous bug fixes including improved performance for Need for Speed: Shift.

The driver can be found here:
Release 195.62 WHQL for Windows 7 / Vista x64

  • Install:
    This is the first release under the Verde Program which actually installs on the M17x. Prior releases did not properly support the M17x's GPUs (9400M G). Installed without any issues.

  • Stealth Mode & Hybrid:
    Stealth Mode is quirky with this release. Pressing the Stealth Mode button will cause the Stealth Mode confirmation dialog box to open. Confirming the Stealth Mode activation does not do anything. Depressing the Stealth Mode button again produced the confirmation box and selecting OK to disable causes the unit to actually implement Stealth Mode and disable the discrete GPUs while putting the rest of the unit into the sub 65w power save mode.

    Pulling the AC Power Cord does not automatically switch the unit to the Integrated GPU. In previous releases, this was not the case and when AC was cut, the unit would power down the discrete GPUs and only use the 9400. Not sure what is going on with this and I will look at it later.

    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.

  • Waking from Standby/Sleep/Hibernation:
    Resuming from these states produces the intermittent 'wake to black screen' issue. Looks like the bug is back with this driver release. This is a deal-breaker for me since I need the system to resume without issue. When encountering the 'wake to black screen' issue, a hard shut down is required (hold power button until system shuts down).

  • Gaming:
    Tested with Left 4 Dead 2, TF2, COD:MW2 - FPS was a bit low for me when playing L4D2 however this turned out to be an issue with the server. Switching to another server resolved the issue. No issues with FPS in-game. No issues with SLI.

  • GPU Clock Rates:
    This is the deal breaker 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 in the previous 195.55 beta release as well.

    So, given the wake to black screen issue, the failure to downclock properly after exiting a gaming session and the quirky behavior of Hybrid SLI, I am labeling this driver as another EPIC FAIL on NVIDIA's part.

    Hopefully, the next Dell release will prove to be a bit more stable.

    Given the issues found, 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.