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. ”. 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.
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.