nVidia you're a joke

I will not be buying, nor recommending that anybody buys any more products from this company.

No doubt many of my readers are aware of my long running battles with the GeForce 5 series on Windows Vista, which eventually made me so fed up I blew £1600 on a new Tablet PC (without any nVidia junk in I might add). nVidia right up to the launch of Windows Vista said they would support the GeForce 5 series on Windows Vista. Then around launch time they quietly retract and say it is no longer supported.

Now these guys have hit me again, with the nForce3 chipset. Unsurprisingly they pulled the exact same stunt, saying all through development and right up to launch that they will support Windows Vista, and then a month after launch, they pull all statements of support from their website. What a joke.

So anyway as I saw Socket 939 dual core chips were going pretty cheap so I replaced the Athlon 64 3200+ in one of my machines with a Athlon 64 X2 4200+, not only would it be a bit faster, with a Manchester core dual channel memory would work too, bargain. Everything worked fine until I arrived on the desktop, noticing the video card was in 2D basic mode. Windows was kind enough to inform me that where was a problem with the hardware and it couldn't start the drivers for my Radeon X850XT.

So I try a few things with no luck and then hit Google. It seems that the nForce3 doesn't work with ATI graphics cards in the AGP slot when using a dual core CPU. Great. So I disable one of the cores and everything works fine. Now this issue goes back to the launch on Windows Vista, the Socket 939 chipsets of the time all used a hack to get dual core CPUs to work, they'd remap the memory address of the AGP card into PCI, this is how they function on Windows XP. SiS and VIA both addressed the problem on their same-generation chipsets within a couple of weeks of the launch of Windows Vista by releasing an updated AGP driver.

Not nVidia though, they recommend you buy an nVidia graphics card or upgrade your motherboard! What a rip, worse still is their lack of support isn't advertised anywhere, boards with nForce3 chipsets are sold claiming compatibility for Windows Vista.

nVidia, get your act together release a damn AGP driver which works properly. No other company kills support for their products so quickly.


Comment from: Mark Sowul [Visitor]
Mark Sowul

Wow, I typed up a several-page rant about nVidia in response, only to forget my email and thus have it wiped out. Thanks.

18th December 2007 @ 03:59
Comment from: Mark Sowul [Visitor]
Mark Sowul

I had an nForce4 motherboard; it was by far the worst hardware I have ever had to deal with (though as you'll see, I've dealt with one disaster after another from ATI and nVidia).

When I first built the PC in question in late 2005, I had a difficult decision: go with Intel, with Prescott's horrendous heat, power consumption, and performance, but rock-solid motherboards, or AMD, with exactly the reverse? (I maintain that on the consumer side, a significant weakness of AMD is that all the motherboards are concerned with overclocking it to the limit, stability be damned. With Intel, you can buy an Intel motherboard and almost be assured that your system will be rock-solid as long as your other components are of good quality. Although, actually, the immediate predecessor of the computer in question ran into huge problems with a combination of the 875P chipset, Corsair RAM, and an ATI All-in-Wonder 9700 video card, which were remedied when ATI replaced it with a 9800 - well, except for the TV tuning part).

So I went with AMD, since Intel's procesors were horrible at the time. I should point out that this PC was built out of necessity because I was fed up with ATI's poor software and couldn't take it anymore. Again, this isn't the point, so I'm going to ignore this. The point is that I would have waited until Conroe and stuck with Intel, but couldn't.

I got an Abit nForce4 based board, Abit being a brand I had trusted. The first problem came with the hardware-assisted firewall. (Well, actually, the first problem came with buggy nVidia drivers that caused the system to deadlock when playing games on dual-core systems. So much for escaping driver problems. Alas.)

Anyway, this hardware firewall was a total disaster that often corrupted downloads and even with it disabled, the network driver would occasionally interact with Symantec Antivirus (another story for another day) in some way and would cause a bluescreen.

That got straightened out eventually (with the hardware firewall finally put out to pasture with later drivers), but as I got USB 2.0 devices, I discovered a new treat: that using USB 2.0 would result in hard lockups (sometimes with a bluescreen, wherein something or other's watchdog timer would basically point out that the northbridge had deadlocked - I suspect the chipset wasn't really safe for dual-core processors).

So fine, I suffered with USB 1.1. Thankfully I didn't utilize the chipset's RAID abilities; I understand they had (have?) a nasty little habit of corrupting one's volumes from time to time.

I finally came to an understanding of sorts with relative reliability, until I upgraded to Vista. Subsequently, two new problems arose. The first was that my ATI tv tuner (standalone, now) would bluescreen when recording TV after a few days of uptime (naturally, it would often ruin recordings of new episodes rather than reruns). (My pursuit of TV is also another story for another day, as ATI's piss-poor All-in-Wonder and associated software dragged down this PC's two predecessors, with Media Center finally fulfilling this desire without the grotesque instability caused by ATI's Multimedia Center - an application so bad it turned XP into 9x, that is, when it crashed or locked up, it took down your system with it, courtesy of close interaction with the card's drivers).

The second problem was that sometimes when restarting the PC, the built-in NIC would refuse to work. This necessitated restarting at least once more, and sometimes more than once, in order to restore network connectivity. Coupled with the first problem, this led to much frustration.

I went away over the summer for a few months; before doing so, I bought a new TV tuner to try to alleviate the first problem (and by extension, mitigate the second). I planned to use remote desktop during my absence.

Well, this new TV tuner also did not work properly; after a few minutes of TV, it would begin glitching out and become unusable (until you restarted media center). This meant I had to put the first tuner back in (since the second produced unusable recordings), and consequently, I had to deal with the computer bluescreening and losing network connectivity throughout my trip, necessitating sending emails home from time to time so that someone could reset the PC, with this sometimes requiring multiple emails and multiple days to straighten out. (I wish I'd thought to use Vista's new event log/cheduled task functionality to automate this process when the system logged an event indicative of this problem, but alas).

So a few days before I returned home, I bought a new Intel Core2 Quad, and an Intel DP35DP motherboard. What do you know? All of the above problems went away. Obviously, I expected the USB and network problems to go away (incidentally, a few days before my return, there was some sort of fix on windows update relating to the nForce4 network interface; I never found out if that would have fixed that problem). I was surprised, though, that both TV tuners now worked flawlessly! I was reading the wikipedia entry for the nForce4, and apparently the nForce4 had yet another trick up its sleeve: a horrendously buggy PCI bus. Astounding - it seems every single subsystem in this chipset was completely defective! With the new processor and motherboard (and consequently, RAM), the system is solid as a rock (except for the occasional application crash, but that I can deal with). I have had only one blue-screen in its 3 months of operation, and that actually appears to have been a Vista issue. I can now leave the system up as long as I want, restarting only for driver updates and some windows updates. The last time I could do that was exactly during the 12 days I waited for ATI to replace the aforementioned 9700 with the 9800, during which I had put my GeForce 3 back in.

Ironically, my most stable system was the one in which I had heavily overclocked the processor, chipset, and video card. This was the old AthlonXP Palomino, which ran at a 133 MHz frontside bus, with the RAM at 166 MHz; I unlocked it (a meticulous job involving extremely precise applications of crazy glue and that metallic paint for the rear windshield defogger) and then ran it at a 166 MHz FSB (to match the RAM) with a higher core speed as well. That system served me until I installed the ATI All-in-Wonder 9700 that began the vain pursuit of the ability to watch and record TV on my PC - a dream that I pursued through more than four years of completely unstable systems before finally achieving bliss with this latest iteration. Finally, everything works.

Whew! If you want another rant, let's talk about Creative's Vista support, which is nothing short of a complete embarassment that has probably alienated every one of their SoundBlaster customers with false promises and broken drivers.

(Kudos to a vista gadget that I installed that keeps your clipboard history).

18th December 2007 @ 04:22
Comment from: Robhiengler [Visitor]
5 stars

What's even worse that they won't support nforce3 after saying they would, is that they won't release the driver source code.

Apparently "its impossible" to get AMD multi-core + ATI AGP + nforce3 to work under Vista (but it works fine with nvidia cards) - so they won't release any complete drivers.

Oh and if you try to reverse-engineer them its lawsuit time!

24th February 2009 @ 00:22

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