nVidia stability issues on GeForce 400/500 series

I am still using the trusty old GeForce GTX460 in one of my machines. When I upgraded my drivers to version 320.18, I started having problems. Every now and then, the driver would reset, and in some cases it would even fail to reset, and your desktop would freeze. The only way out was to reset the machine. I noticed that both Windows 7 and Windows 8 were suffering the same issue.

I found out that when I went back to the previous drivers, version 314.22, that the problems disappeared again. At the time I did not pay too much attention to it. The old drivers worked fine anyway.
Everytime a new driver was released, I tried it, and everytime I kept running into the same problem, so I kept going back to 314.22.

When version 327.23 came around, and still suffered the same issue, I started to worry a bit though. These were the first drivers with official Windows 8.1 support. So I was wondering what would happen once the Windows 8.1 update was released. Could I still use my 314.22 drivers?

I started looking around on the GeForce forums, and noticed that other people had been suffering the same issue. I decided to report the issue myself as well, perhaps it would help. Initially I just got a standard reply, telling me to check my PSU and do a clean reinstall and all that. I replied that I’m not an idiot, and as I say, the system works fine when I put 314.22 back on, so we can rule out any kind of hardware or installation problems.

After a while, I got a reply from second-line report, and it seemed that nVidia was now taking the issue quite seriously. I told them that I suspected that it had something to do with the power management, and it mostly seemed to occur while browsing, generally when you want to play a movie or scroll a page, so when the videocard has to switch from idle to some kind of accelerated mode.
They had released a number of beta drivers attempting to solve the issue, but so far they failed to localize the issue. I was kept up-to-date on new beta’s by email, and was asked to report back.

In the meantime, Windows 8.1 came out. I was hoping that the stability problems had solved itself, but after a while I started seeing the same issues again in 8.1. Luckily, 314.22 still worked fine in Windows 8.1, but Windows Update kept trying to install 327.23, so you had to ignore that update.

Then nVidia got REALLY serious, and even asked people to send in their problematic cards. A few people responded, and sent in their cards (it could be related to cards with modified BIOS, such as my own GTX460, which is a factory-overclocked card from Gigabyte). After a number of updates, nVidia posted a specially modified driver based on version 331.58 on page 50, that seemed to do the trick.

nVidia also contacted me about these drivers by email, and asked my feedback again. After trying them for 3 days without issues, I reported that they were looking good so far. nVidia thanked me for testing, and they were sure that the issue was fixed now. A regular beta driver including this fix would be included in a regular beta release soon. This beta arrived in the form of version 331.93 a few days later. As the release notes say: “[326.80, Fermi]: End users report browser freezes and crashes. [1358403]”. I have been running this driver since the release without any issues.

So, it’s a shame that it took nVidia so long to locate the bug (it’s been in there since their driver release in late May, and they finally fixed it in late November). But on the other hand, it’s nice that they committed themselves to fixing the bug, even though the 400/500 series are already a few years old, and two generations behind already. If anyone has been suffering the same issues with their card, I can recommend the 331.93 beta drivers. And within a few weeks, we should see a WHQL release incorporating this fix, so it is truly history.

Update:

On 1-7-2014, nVidia released the 332.21 WHQL drivers, which include the fix for this problem: [Fermi-class GPU]: Browser freezes and crashes. [1358403]

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14 Responses to nVidia stability issues on GeForce 400/500 series

  1. 460addict says:

    end of the story… thank you for this interesting and useful post.

  2. 560ti User says:

    holy shit, I hope it really fix this time!!! Seriously, my 560 ti still have issue on driver 314.22… Seriously hope the new driver coming up this time will fix the issue.. I have waited way too long… probably from starts when I first got my 560ti, which it was like 1 and a half or 2 years ago.

  3. Gabriel says:

    Same here… Gigabyte OC GTX 460. Used to reset a lot with older drivers, and with recent drivers it doesn’t even do that anymore – it just freezes the whole system. But IIRC, it also did that when I tried 314.22. Only 275.33 worked properly for me (though even with 275.33, I still do get a reset now and then, but that only happens once after resuming from sleep, so it’s bearable). I hope 332.21 fixes this problem for good. And I’m curious what the problem was in the first place. My guess is they changed some power settings in the 3xx drivers.

    • mh says:

      They had changed power settings in the 280 drivers, and the release notes for 285 made reference to those changes, to problems they had caused, and claimed that those changes had been rolled back to pre-280. It wouldn’t surprise me if they were playing around with this again – I’ve generally not been happy with NVIDIA’s power-saving tech for quite some time and would be inclined towards suspicion of it whenever anything odd happens.

  4. costin89 says:

    Hello, I have a nVidia GTX560Ti Top Edition, I am running on the 314.22 driver version, is the problem fixed now? Is it save now to update the driver?

    • Scali says:

      Yes, I have not seen the problem with the last few WHQL drivers, they work fine on my GTX460. They should also fix the problem on the 500 series.

  5. me says:

    It seems they broke it again in 335.23.

  6. George says:

    This is fucking garbage, i downloaded 340.52 driver and my GTX 460 would freeze when changing power states but not in games, it would play a game even 5 hours and get no freeze yet when i enter Mozilla Firefox the system would freeze with the message nVidia driver has crashed and has been recovered, i too remember that while with 332.21 drivers the system was stable but with newer drivers it’s like crap, to me it’s only one solution, either nVidia fixes their damn drivers or i will go back to AMD on the next video card purchase.

    • Scali says:

      I’ve been using the 340.52 drivers on my GTX460 for a few days now, and I have not had any problems yet.

      • George says:

        Never mind, it was my stupid crappy PSU not giving enough power to the card which is factory overclocked, i’ve replaced it with Sirtec High Power 750W 80+ Bronze and now there are no more problems.

      • Scali says:

        I also have a factory-overclocked one, a Gigabyte GV-N460OC-1GI.

      • George says:

        That’s a very nice card, mine is Gainward GLH edition, i wanted the Gigabyte version but in the end i choose this one, the clocks are nearly the same, i got mine to work at 822 mhz core and 2004 mhz memory just to match GTX 560 Ti reference clocks and it works well, in Crysis 3 temps never go higher than 73 degrees.

  7. Neother works for me after 314.22… I tried all these, and I have an issue after waking from any sleep mode

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