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Thread: nForce IDE Driver v4.12 Review (Released March 31st)

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    nForce IDE Driver v4.12 Review (Released March 31st)

    Introduction

    The nForce2, a fantastic chipset but in my personal opinion it's always been a case of “It could be better”, why? Well you may think i'm trying to suggest additional features but when it was released nothing touched the feature set. What i'm actually talking about is the lack of driver support, it's really been abismal and at times frustrating. The nForce2 has had 3 driver updates since it's release, none of which allowed you to take full advantage of all its features or performance.

    SW-IDE driver, mentioning that i can almost hear the screams of frustration from all over the UK. We all know that we've installed this driver at least once and for the majority it's been nothing but hell, sure for some it ran fine but the chances are all they were doing is surfing the internet and playing the odd game.

    Today i will be testing the latest IDE offering from nVidia, SW-IDE v4.12 (2.5 in device manager), it promises performance and compatibility improvements aswell as stability enhancements.


    Issues Experienced

    When nvidia released the nForce2 they offered in their driver the option to install “SW-IDE” driver those who clicked yes are probably still kicking themselves. Although this driver really did offer significant performance increases it just didn't offer the stability or compatibility that should be evident in all drivers.

    The IDE driver has had three releases since the nForce2's debut, the v2.03, the v2.4X that was later removed from the driver package and the v3.13. So what lovelees did these IDE drivers offer to us, the user.

    * The harddisk head would slam against the HDD everytime you restarted the machine, definitely not good for the life of the harddisk.

    * Certain DVDs/CDs would refuse to be read.

    * DVDs/CDs would fail to burn in popular programs such as Nero, not good for the consumers pocket, the average Joe probably blaming it on his drive and buying a new one.

    * Instability, they were actually programmed to run at the drives maximum possible transfer rate, so for example if your drive was ATA133 and all of the sudden ran into issues and need to notch down to ATA66 which believe it or not drives do do then bam, system crash as the driver would not allow it.

    * Compatibility, a lot of drives mainly CD/DVD wouldn't even be detected by the new driver.

    * With certain CD/DVD drives the system would fail to reboot if either drive was empty (didn't contain a cd/dvd).


    Summary & Test Setup / Software

    To test IDE performance i will use HDTACH, i will run it twice with the MS IDE driver and twice with the SW-IDE driver to eliminate any inconsistencies.

    I will focus on identifying if any of the previous bugs are still present in this latest release and if they are attempt to find workarounds.


    Test Setup

    Athlon XP 2500-M (running at 2GHz)
    Abit NF7-S v2.0
    512MB TwinMOS w/winbond (Running at 7,2,2,2)
    Radeon 9800 Pro
    Seagate IV 40GB
    Western Digital 8MB 80GB
    Liteon CD/RW 52x/24x/52x
    Liteon DVDROM 48x/16x

    Please note, even though my system is mildy overclocked it has passed a series of stress tests to ensure its stability, these include:

    * Prime95 - 8 hours no errors
    * 3dmark 2003 - Looped 8 hours no crashes
    * 3dmark 2001 - Looped 8 hours no crashes
    * Memtest86 - 4 hours no errors
    * 24 hours of XviD encoding


    Software

    Windows XP Professional SP1 + All Critical Updates
    Direct X 9.0b
    Omega 2.5.30 (based on Catalyst v4.3)
    nForce ForceWare v3.13
    with IDE v4.12 shown in device manager as v2.5
    EAC – Exact Audio Copy
    GordonKnot


    IDE Performance

    Seagate IV (without sw-ide)




    Seagate IV (with sw-ide v4.12)




    Western Digital 8MB (without sw-ide)




    Western Digital 8MB (with sw-ide v4.12)



    Now maybe i'm cynical but on numbers alone there doesn't really seem to be any benefit to using the SW-IDE driver over MS's default.


    New Features

    nVidia obviously not satisfied with the results applications such as HDTACH were reporting have decided to implement their own “Speed Test” feature into the latest IDE driver, lets take a look.

    Right Click My Computer > Properties > Hardware > Device Manager > IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers > Expand Tree > NVIDIA nForce 2 ATA Controller (v2.5) > Double click > Primary Channel Tab.

    I tested both drives using nVidias own “Speed test...” and here are the results:

    Seagate IV




    Western Digital 8MB



    The results do roughly reflect those that HDTACH reported and i must admit it's a nice little feature that i for one am glad they added as now that i've confirmed it's accuracy i will no longer be requiring HDTACH.


    Previous Bugs In Order

    * Harddisk head slamming against the disk on reboot.

    Fixed

    * Failure to read and write to DVDs/CDs

    Fixed

    I burnt several CDs and none of them ended up as coasters, i tried varied media and everything was read successfully. I also ripped several audio cds to hdd using EAC, everything went smoothly.

    * Instability

    Fixed

    Drop back feature added to allow drives to run below their specified speed, i encoded 4 dvds to XviD non-stop for 24 hours, no crashes or signs of instability

    * Compatibility

    Improved for the following drives

    * Sony 4821 CD-ROM
    * Justlink RW7200A CD-RW
    * Yamaha CRW2100E CR-RW
    * Toshiba XM-5302TA
    * Toshiba XM-6002B
    * Samsung SW-216B
    * Lite-On 48X CR-ROM
    * Teac CD-W540E

    * If CD/DVD rom drive didn't have a CD/DVD in the system would fail to reboot with certain CD/DVD rom drive models.

    Inconclusive, fine for me but others complain it still exists.


    Real World Performance & Conclusion

    It wouldn't be fair if i ended this review leaving you to make your decision based purely on the numbers and not airing my own personal experience with the latest IDE driver from nvidia.

    I love it, real world performance and by this i mean programs opening and closing faster (UT2004 specfically) and just a general nippier feel is definitely there, nvidia really have done a great job with this latest IDE driver and to be firm, but fair, it's about time, the slackers .

    Get them: here


    Finally

    That concludes my first review ever, i hope you all enjoyed it and if you feel there's anything i could of done that would of made the review better please don't hesitate to make suggestions, thanks.

    Please ask before reproducing this review.
    Last edited by LayZeh; 05-04-2004 at 11:35 PM.

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    In a place called VERTIGO CrapshoT's Avatar
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    nice work !! well thought out and a very interesting subject
    the nvidia ide drivers have screwed me a few times i have bought new dvd and cdrw drives thinking my old were bust when it was the poor drivers
    worthy of a sticky maybe?
    congrats anyway on a very competent first review i for one will look forward to reading your next
    oh and im now dl the new ide driver to give them another chance !!
    woohooo my 500th post
    Last edited by CrapshoT; 02-04-2004 at 07:42 PM.
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    glad you liked it if only you lol

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    Quote Originally Posted by LayZeh
    glad you liked it if only you lol
    I enjoyed it too just didnt think of commenting on it, very well written

    The new nforce audio drivers are a real improvement as well (V4.31) perhaps you could write a review on them if you have the time
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    Unfortunately i don't, you see i use an Audigy2ZS. But i dunno, if i get say a free cookie from Rys or David then maybe i'll do it

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    In a place called VERTIGO CrapshoT's Avatar
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    its not the amount of posts in your thread that count its the amount that read it and a canny few people have been interested enough to read it
    Farts are like children.....You always love you're Own.!!!
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    that's true enough m8

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    Nice to see this issue covered - very good work Layzeh, i'll be installing these alongside the remix's on the back of this......cheers


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    You can download nForce-Refined here be sure to extract the contents before running setup.exe.
    Last edited by LayZeh; 05-04-2004 at 11:38 PM.

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    Cheers for the n-force refined pack !

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    I certainly found it interesting and very useful. Was getting fed up of trying out n-force drivers and then having to disconnect all my drives to start up just so I could uninstall them. Will definitely be trying out the new ones as I'm still using the originals.

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    In a place called VERTIGO CrapshoT's Avatar
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    yep its a good review ive installed the new ide drivers etc after this review and theyve been sound so far touch wood
    ide(pun lol) recommend everyone giving them a try as they seem to be much improved
    Farts are like children.....You always love you're Own.!!!
    Wise Men learn from Other people's mistake's...Fool's learn from their OWN.!!!

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    Yeah, i've not personally ran into any trouble with them so far either, i'm just waiting the next package release now which is estimated for mid-april so keep your eyes and ears open.

    ps. sorry for the image down-time today, i reorganised my webspace.
    Last edited by LayZeh; 05-04-2004 at 11:37 PM.

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