More Information on NVIDIA Drivers

As mentioned previously, one of the big problems we often have with gaming notebooks is driver support. If you go out and buy a desktop system, you can be relatively sure that you will always be able to get graphics card driver updates from NVIDIA or AMD. Outside of truly exotic systems, users are usually assured that they won't have to wait on an OEM to update drivers. Unfortunately, the same doesn't apply to notebooks.

NVIDIA is working to rectify this situation with their "rapid driver update" program. Yes, we did indeed use the word "rapid", and in speaking with NVIDIA they are fully aware that their mobile driver updates have been anything but. Think of it more as a goal rather than a current state, and hopefully you won't get too upset about lack of driver updates for your current gaming notebook. The plan is for NVIDIA to release updated mobile drivers quarterly. The next update is scheduled for late April 2008 (give or take a couple weeks), and we should see a fair number of supported gaming laptops.

We do know for sure that (most or all) Dell XPS notebooks and Clevo ODM notebooks are part of the program, and NVIDIA is working with Gateway to add them to the rapid driver program now. Whether that means you'll get updated drivers for XP, Vista, or both is not yet clear, and the Gateway FX notebooks might not make this next driver update. That said, outside of SLI systems we have not encountered any issues with the current GeForce 8800M Windows Vista drivers.

The long-term ideal would be for NVIDIA to provide updated drivers for all the major operating systems and all of the gaming notebooks, but that's a lot of permutations to test. It also sounds like at least a couple major companies do not like the idea of NVIDIA providing updated drivers for notebooks and prefer to provide their own driver updates (or not as the case may be). Whether or not NVIDIA actually has the manpower to support more companies is difficult to say, but we strongly encourage all notebook manufacturers that use NVIDIA graphics chips — particularly on notebooks that are "gaming" notebooks — to work with NVIDIA and become a part of their rapid driver update program. If you don't care about gaming on notebooks, perhaps the drivers don't matter, but any company offering an 8700M or higher GPU either needs to get on this program or forget about the gaming notebook market. It really is that simple.

Something else that's coming down the pipe from NVIDIA is greater support for their CUDA initiative. We commented that the Core 2 Duo T5450 is rather anemic compared to other current CPUs, but for certain applications that could become a moot point in the near future. NVIDIA is working with partners on CUDA accelerated applications that cover such areas as video transcoding, photo manipulation, and 3D rendering. In some instances they are realizing speed ups of over 18x compared to doing the work on the CPU. We should start to see some applications and plug-ins with CUDA support before the end of 2008 — and perhaps as early as this summer. H.264 encoding at better than real-time speeds on a laptop? Why yes thank you, we're very interested in that!

Gaming Performance — Resolution Scaling P-6831 FX LCD Quality
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  • teknomedic - Sunday, March 30, 2008 - link

    Can anyone who has gotten the T5550 proc go to Gateway and enter your serial number and then check out the documentation and let us know if they only list the T5450 info or if they give you the T5550 info?

    I'm trying to figure out if I've got the T5450 or the T5550 before I open the box... of course the box says T5450 and when I enter my serial at gateway I only get the T5450 documentation as well. I also called gateway tech support and that person basically told me that he showed no records of any of these laptops getting the T5550 proc... but he seemed a little "off" to me though and that's of course an incorrect statement.

    TK.
    Reply
  • teknomedic - Sunday, March 30, 2008 - link

    ^^^ also though, I've read on the net (so take with some salt) that gateway released a patch because vista was incorrectly ID'ing the proc as a faster one... is there any merit to this... could we all have the T5450 but it's being miss-ID'd? Reply
  • Che - Sunday, March 30, 2008 - link

    My box does say T5450, but I ran CPU-Z and it does identify it as the faster processor. I'll check the serial number later for ya. Reply
  • Che - Sunday, March 30, 2008 - link

    I entered my serial # and it does state it was a T5450. Ship date March 08 Reply
  • teknomedic - Sunday, March 30, 2008 - link

    Thanks for doing that... I decided to just open my box.. figured I'd be upgrading the CPU anyway later... and... got the faster T5550. ;)

    So I guess there really is no way to know what you've got until you turn on the PC.

    My PC has a ship date of March 13th and I got the T5550 @ 1.83Ghz... of course now my wife is jealous so we had to buy one for her as well. Her ship date was March 4th... haven't opened the box yet... but will report what she has when we do. Both computers were bought at Best Buy.
    Reply
  • teknomedic - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - link

    quick update...

    My wife's laptop with a ship date of March 4th ended up having the slower T5450 proc... Also, both laptops have a strange "buzz" or audio distortion of the right speaker while playing some games (mostly Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath).

    Also, I find the proc debate mute now since the P-6860 is coming out... if you can wait a week or so everyone here should now buy the P-6860... it's still only $1349 but gets a few nice upgrades such as the faster T5550 proc, 4GB RAM and a 320GB HDD with Vista 64bit.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, March 30, 2008 - link

    ASUS makes good notebooks, and the F3kA you linked is reasonable. Still, the 8800M GTS is probably 2 to 3 times more powerful than the Mobility HD 2600. You can run the Quake 4, Crysis, UT3, and Bioshock gaming tests quite easily if you want to compare. Same goes for CINEBENCH, 3DMark, and PCMark.

    I think the ASUS might be a better laptop in terms of battery life (it depends on the battery size), but the GPU, CPU, and LCD are all worse than the P-6831. $900 is a fair price for what you get, though.
    Reply
  • Fant - Sunday, March 30, 2008 - link

    I wished Anandtech would have compared the performance of this gateway to a few other laptops such as the $1500 Dell XPS M1530 which comes with c2d, 4gb, 8600Mgt as well as a MBP running XP (via bootcamp) since it also comes with c2d and 8600MGT. Reply
  • ap90033 - Tuesday, April 01, 2008 - link

    Wow 8600M GT? I had one of those Dells, I SENT IT BACK. It was HORRIBLE for gaming. Seriously, it would be embarrassing for the Dell... Reply
  • predatorramboxxx - Sunday, March 30, 2008 - link

    all of them now have 1.83 or 1.86 check notebook review if you do not believe me.
    mine came with 1.83 from bestbuy

    Reply

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