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Nvidia Driver Update Frequency Musings

Yesterday, May 9, Nvidia released a new GeForce driver – version 430.64. “Gosh!” I thought “haven’t there been a LOT of them lately?” Indeed, the search tool reveals 10 released for 2019. Because May 9 falls in the year’s 19th week, that’s an update every two weeks. Of those 10 drivers, I’ve had problems with 3. Two caused “black screens” that required a reboot to resume normal operation. Rolling back to the preceding driver version in Device Manager fixed them. The third issue was more insidious. I lost DisplayPort access to my monitors. I temporarily switched to HDMI cables (which I keep around for testing and tomfoolery). Then, I had to run Wagnardsoft’s Display Driver Uninstaller (DDU) program to remove all traces of the problem driver. A clean install of the preceding version restored DisplayPort access to my monitors. These recent experiences have me musing about Nvidia driver update frequency.

Where Does Musing About Nvidia Driver Update Frequency Lead?

Games drive driver development at Nvidia. Thus, the Game Ready heading for the 430.64 driver explains it “[p]rovides the optimal gaming experience for RAGE 2, Total War: Three Kingdoms, and World War Z.” This is great for gamers in general, especially for gamers who’ve plunked down their hard-earned cash to such games. In general, gamers seem pretty keen to stay on the leading/bleeding edge so they can milk the most out of their GPUs for advanced rendering, 3D, and other high-end graphics effects to boost game play performance and experience. I, however, am not a gamer. I don’t need these frequent tweaks, bells or whistles to do the kinds of things I do, which are almost entirely two dimensional and involve no games that need anisotropic filtering, anti-aliasing, ray-tracing, and so forth and so on.

Nvidia: A Modest Proposal

Here’s my suggestion to Nvidia: Create two GPU driver forks. Leave the current one as-is, and label it “Gamers and High-end Graphics Effects.” Create another fork and call it “Non-Gamers.” This second fork need be updated only once every six months or so, and can act as a kind of cumulative update for changes introduced in the preceding half-year interval. It can also be extensively tested and vetted to avoid the kinds of hiccups I described in the lead paragraph here. Ideally, Nvidia would time it to coincide with, or follow shortly after, Windows 10 Feature Upgrades so that non-gamers could expect a new OS version to encompass a new graphics driver as part of the upgrade experience. This lets non-gamers avoid the occasional issue that requires messing around with the occasional, but seemingly inevitable, ill-behaved drivers with which they must now content.

I wonder if anybody at Nvidia is listening, and might respond to this suggestion? Let’s see!

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