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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  • asusftw - Friday, March 28, 2008 - link

    asus g2p? what era are we in? benchmark the g2sg-a1 or the g2s-b2. don't use notebooks that are past their expiration date please. Reply
  • pnyffeler - Friday, March 28, 2008 - link

    Ouch. :-) Reply
  • kenbx84 - Friday, March 28, 2008 - link

    I like how these guys like to compare the outdated Asus G2P to this gateway as oppose to the more up to date G2Sg or even G2S-B2...

    Hey guys try comparing the latest notebooks with the latest notebooks please.
    Reply
  • ap90033 - Sunday, March 30, 2008 - link

    Are you talking about this one? http://209.85.165.104/search?q=cache:nBTuWHg8-gQJ:...">http://209.85.165.104/search?q=cache:nB...p;hl=en&...

    If so 5200 in 3dmark06 isnt really close to 7000 that I get with the P6831FX...
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, March 30, 2008 - link

    Note that in order to compare 3DMark06 scores properly, you need to test at 1280x1024... that link only does so at the end and then scores a paltry 4715. For the 6831FX, you need to use an external LCD (which I did). 6820 is a respectable score, held back quite a bit by the CPU (which contributes something like 1/4 to 1/3 of the total points, I think).

    But really, who cares about 3DMark? We don't play that; we play actual games. Compared to the 8700M GT in the X205:

    Battlefield 2, Bioshock, Quake 4, Stalker, and Supreme Commander are roughly half the performance. Meanwhile Far Cry, the HL2 games, and Oblivion are about 2/3 as fast. So in tested games, the P6831 is usually at least 50% faster than the X205, and frequently twice as fast. I wish I still had an 8700M GT system so I could run some of the new games through the wringer, but regardless it's not looking pretty.
    Reply
  • MrX8503 - Friday, March 28, 2008 - link

    "I like how these guys like to compare the outdated Asus G2P to this gateway as oppose to the more up to date G2Sg or even G2S-B2...

    Hey guys try comparing the latest notebooks with the latest notebooks please. "

    Reading is your friend. Theres a reason why they did this.
    Reply
  • deshiboy - Monday, January 25, 2010 - link

    8690 HYA HYA! Reply
  • jburgett - Friday, March 28, 2008 - link

    Frequently reviewers of laptops neglect to measure the heat radiating from the top and bottom of laptops. This can be a major factor in the actual use of a system. For example, I had a Gateway nx860XL that reached 52 deg C on the underside while sitting on a flat surface! Such hot temperatures prevent using it on your lap for even short periods. Further, the area under your left hand while gaming (the WASD keys) reached 45 deg after a long gaming session, and this was while raising the back of the laptop to provide maximum fan airflow!

    Please consider adding temperature measurements on teh top and bottom to your reviews. It would be very helpful, as the differences from one laptop to another are dramatic.
    Currently only notebookreview.com and notebookcheck.net provide temperature readings.
    Thanks for the review!
    Reply
  • ap90033 - Sunday, March 30, 2008 - link

    Interesting point, its not important for me, I use the Ideazon Fang... Its way better than using a keyboard and makes this a non issue. I have used mine a lot gaming and surfing the net and never noticed but of course when gaming my fang gamepad allows me to play with no distractions. Actually for a gaming laptop I was suprised at how cool it runs... Reply
  • Wolfpup - Friday, March 28, 2008 - link

    I'm wondering if this comes with a real Vista DVD like Dell's systems do (not no one else does) so you can reinstall it from scratch when you get it.

    It actually sounds like it does from the manual for the FX series, as it talks about reinstalling from the Vista DVD. Presumably if it didn't HAVE a DVD included, they'd at least mention "oh you have to buy it".

    I also wonder if this can run Folding @ Home whenever it's on. Sounds like maybe it can actually handle it, if 100% CPU utilization doesn't require it to ramp up the fans all the way.

    Overall, I hate the slow CPU, but even that's not much different from a lot of notebooks in the price range. I probably should have bought one during that sale (DOH!) But maybe I'll still pick one up...

    Oh, and to the person who said people reading Anandtech won't use this as their main machine...why not? I've got a pretty big backlog of games to get through, so I might be an exception, but I figure I can get at LEAST a year or two of use out of this before I start getting held back by the CPU and GPU. And the price is low enough that I can just figure I'll buy a new notebook or desktop in 1-3 years when needed, and it'll still be cheaper then buying something more expensive now.

    Actually another question...I wonder how getting the memory in dual channel mode would help performance? 3GB is beyond adequate, but I'd assume these newer systems still give up 10%+ performance when running single channel.
    Reply

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