There is an old saying that says, "March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb." Well, the "in like a lion" part is at least accurate in our industry. Nvidia has finally released its latest beta drivers for Windows Vista
this week, and we took a look. The verdict? Not too shabby!
The new drivers, Forceware 101.41 to be exact, have been hotly anticipated through the gaming sector. Our contacts at Nvidia promised us repeatedly that the new ones would bring SLI support to 7-series and 6-series cards, which previously was cause for either games or Vista to crash (on every release after the very first build). This release blunder even crippled the 7950 GX2 card, which required SLI to run properly.
I'm happy to say that after a weekend of use with the drivers, they are more than I had been made to believe. Nvidia braced me for the worst - support wasn't finished, these were still beta, there may be some big kinks. However, aside from having to do a bit of manual configuration (which one could expect from SLI), the drivers ran well above my expectations. It seems that Nvidia hasn't just been sitting pretty at the top of the food chain.
That's not to say that there are not some issues - texture shimmering happens across the board with a variety of applications and settings, even on Nvidia's "High Quality" settings in the drivers. Random artefacts occur in some games, GRAW
in particular (patched to 1.35). ES4: Oblivion
runs well, but is a touch slow compared to XP - but it still runs fairly comparable, which is a notable achievement.
All in all, the drivers are a great step for Nvidia card owners on Vista. Frame rates aren't up to XP standards yet, but then I wouldn't really expect them to be - "perfection" won't come until a couple months of extensive testing. However, games are very playable and enjoyable with SLI enabled - a great place to be when only a month ago a flagship card couldn't run at over 40% of its potential.
If you've got an Nvidia 7 or 6 series card and have Vista, I highly recommend giving the new build a try. Remember to report your bugs
Got a thought on the drivers? Been testing them out yourself? Let us hear about it in our forums