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

    Hey, great review... I read it yesterday... I bought the P-6831 today... hope your happy, cause I am, lol.

    Anyway... In short order I'll probably be upgrading the proc to the T8300 and getting a matched set of 4GB RAM and then installing Vista 64bit.

    Just wondering (since I haven't opened the box yet and am still thinking about keeping it)... how are the Vista 64bit drivers for this lappy? Will I beable to find all the drivers I need or will I need to run 32 for a while until they sort those out?

    Thanks again!
    Reply
  • Che - Sunday, March 30, 2008 - link

    Well, I stated installing 64-bit Vista about 24 hours after buying the laptop. Used a 64-bit disc and the laptop's activation key with no issues. As for drivers, most of the drivers are 64-bit aware (even if they are only listed as 32-bit). Took me a few hours but got it up and running great. IMPORTANT: Use the Gateway Recovery Center program and make a backup Drivers and Applications CD. Was very useful in reinstalling the drivers (many on the gateway site don't want to work right)

    Only drivers hard to find were: modem and nvidia.
    For the modem I used the following: http://www.notebookforums.com/thread212673.html">http://www.notebookforums.com/thread212673.html
    Nvidia I used the following: http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=2...">http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=2...

    Hope that helps.
    Reply
  • teknomedic - Sunday, March 30, 2008 - link

    that's awesome info... thank you... I really want to move to 64bit since that's what I'm running at home. Thanks again!! Reply
  • teknomedic - Sunday, March 30, 2008 - link

    ^^^ oh, and also... futher down the road, will I be able to upgrade the video as well? It also looks like if I did that, I'd have to rip the lappy apart? Reply
  • win32asmguy - Sunday, March 30, 2008 - link

    Sorry but the 8800M GTS is soldered to the motherboard, roughly under the number pad area of the keyboard. That is one of the reasons why this machine is thinner than the Clevo M570RU-U clones that are out there. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, March 30, 2008 - link

    I didn't actually check to see if the GPU was soldered on or not, but it wouldn't surprise me to find that's the case. Even if it is an MSM module that can be upgraded, it's highly unlikely you'll be able to do so. Just ask Dell XPS owners and Alienware m9750 owners how many GPU upgrades they've received over the years. Anyway, the GPU would be under the left side of the keyboard - the CPU is under the number keypad. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, March 30, 2008 - link

    Regarding video drivers, you have to get the current drivers from Gateway or try hacked drivers from LaptopVideo2Go. In the case of the latter, you will almost certainly get lower performance. Right now, Gateway doesn't have 64-bit GPU drivers (or 64-bit drivers for anything else) on their website. You can get around everything but the GPU and potentially sound drivers.

    I would wait for the 64-bit upgrade until NVIDIA releases their next "rapid driver update" mobile drivers, and see if they support the Gateway FX laptops and if there's a 64-bit version. I'm betting yes on 64-bit, but in talking with NVIDIA they *just* received their Gateway systems for validation testing, so they may or may not make it into the next driver release. They will be in the release after that almost certainly, but that's ~4 months out.

    The other question of course is whether you even need to go 64-bit and 4GB right now. I don't think so, particularly if gaming is your major concern. 32-bit is still better overall, IMO... maybe in another year 64-bit will begin to make an impact.
    Reply
  • teknomedic - Sunday, March 30, 2008 - link

    Thanks for the replies... too bad on the video considering I have a 5 year old laptop that allowed me to upgrade the video... and I'll wait on the 64bit drivers then. I'm already running 64bit vista at home and gaming too!... I've not had any issues beyond new PC trying to run old games... but that's what my WinXP and Win98 machines are for. ;) Reply
  • Che - Saturday, March 29, 2008 - link

    Just FYI... I received this laptop today (and love it). I have the p-6831FX model and it came with (according to Vista) a T5550 CPU @ 1.83 GHz (not T5450 @ 1.67 GHx). I just checked it using CPU-Z and it says T5600 @ 1.83 GHz. Any ideas?? or did I just get lucky? Of course i'm not complaining, lol.

    The sticker on the palm rest states T5450. I did order mine off ebay, but it was still sealed and new in the box as was stated in the auction.
    Reply
  • Dgacioch - Sunday, March 30, 2008 - link

    mine has the 1.83ghz T5550 as well, just bought it yesterday. Updated the video drivers and ran 3dmark 06. pretty respectable 7450 score, so at least a little improvement over the t5450. Ill be running some more games on it tonight to get some better impressions, but so far performance seems quite good even with the gimped cpu. Reply

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