Guyver1 Posted October 18, 2007 Report Share Posted October 18, 2007 Love your gaming?, love going to LAN partiess to meet your online buddies for gaming and socialising fun and games? Tired of having to strip down your cumbersome desktop rig, pack it into the car with cushions and blankets for padding? Thinking of buying a premium SLI gaming laptop to get all the benefits of the powerful SLI format but gain the portability of a notebook solution? STOP!!! Things are not as rosey as the manufacturers/nvidia make out, read on to find out why... I myself was in this very situation not 6 months ago, I wanted the portability, but didn't want my framerates dropping of the face of the earth. (I've been clan leader of probably the longest running Unreal clan in europe [DOA], the clan has been in competitive gaming since 1999) I waited a few months as the Alienware m9750 was on the horizon and due for release. While i was killing time i searched and researched all i could on other laptop manufacturers who produced SLI notebooks. I was in the fortunate position of money not being an obstacle so it merely came down to spec/gaming performance. The m9750 clinched the deal on those 2 factors, and was ordered on UK release day with XP Pro, costing £2324. Having previously owned an Acer 9303 laptop i was already familiar with the LaptopVideo2Go website and their modded INF files that allow laptop owners to install the latest nvidia forceware drivers. Nothing was to prepare for the sheer frustration and annoyance of owning a SLI laptop.... Firstly from research ALL SLI laptop vendors GPU drivers are woefully out of date. To Alienware's credit they do use the most upto date (v94.23) Fine i thought, I'll just pop along to LaptopVideo2Go and get the latest drivers. Off i pop, download, install... no SLI. hmmm, tried some other versions, still the same, either i got a black screen after installation or the SLI section in the control panel told me that although i had 2 cards installed i needed to install a second PCI express lane of 4x speed or more. What was going on? Google is your friend, reading around and digging deeper into the hardware showed up that to get SLI to work on non nVidia nForce chipsets requires 2 things, in the case of the m9750, a special nForce n100 chip and some 'unlocked' drivers from nvidia. You see it turns out that nVidia appears to keep to maintaining a monopoly on what hardware you can actually run SLI successfully on, they wont allow SLI to work on desktop chipsets that arent their own nForce SLI chipsets. They do this by 'locking' their ForceWare drivers. How does this apply to laptop users? Well, nVidia dont produce a suitable chipset for the notebook market currently, so 'begrudgingly' they allow other chipset manufacturers SLI access through a special chip and special 'unlocked' drivers. As is obvious to anyone who has owned a laptop for any length of time, nVidia are notorious for contradiction, on the one hand they tout their ForceWare drivers as this wonderful 'unified driver architecture', one driver package for all our hardware, then, underhandedly, 'lock' their drivers to not allow certain hardware and all laptop GPUs access to the installation process (thankfully the mobile GPU's lockout is a simple .INF fix). I have emailed both nVidia and Alienware asking for help on updating my GPU drivers to allow me to play the latest titles such as Bioshock, UT3, COD4, Crysis etc with improved performance and bug fixes, SLI profiles etc. Nvidia stonewalled me with a vague response, Alienware tech support have told me that they have uprated my request to the driver team, but I've been told that they dont update drivers unless certain applications crash, have noticable bugs... Absolutely no recognition that poor framerates, stuttering is a bug in itself and reason enough to update your driver package. I have asked Alienware why do they not update their drivers in sequence with new nvidia forceware releases (i am awaiting a response). While this is not really relevant to the majority of the laptop market, when you spend £2000+ for a premium 'gaming' laptop you expect to be able to get drivers that improve performance on the new games as they become released. Nvidia themselves have released 2 driver packages specifically targeting improving performance in new titles (the 'bioshock' drivers and the new 'timeshift' drivers). If you own a SLI laptop it is worth a recap: 1. only vendor supplied drivers work proplery as they are special 'unlocked' drivers supplied by nvidia. (im not 100% on this, but from my own experience and research this appears to be the case, feel free to let me know if you've got non vendor supplied drivers to work on a SLI lappy) 2. SLI only works because nVidia provide a special chip to allow a non nVidia nForce chipset to access SLI So who is responsible? Ultimately nVidia make the GPUs. They provide the drivers and code to make them work in the OS, yet email (if you can find an email address on their website these days) them and they will more than likely tell you that it's nothing to do with them and you should contact your vendor. Contact your vendor and they will tell that they only update drivers when an application doesn't work or crashes forcing them to update. As a customer who paid a substantial sum of money for a 'premium gaming' product I am really dissapointed and frustrated. In an effort to gain greater knowledge I started a thread for GeForce Go 7950 GTX SLI users HERE. In it it outlines everything i have discovered so far, what drivers work, which dont, hardware reasons, driver 'locking' and also helping some people with various other 'issues'. If you have any comments, if you own a SLI laptop and have your own experiences, if you've found any workarounds, then please contribute to the above forum thread. What happens now? If you own a SLI laptop I ask every one of you to email, write to both nVidia and your vendor to complain about this situation. It is a situation that denies the customer the one thing they bought the laptop for in the first place... performance! As a customer it is apparent to me that if you sell and advertise a 'premium gaming SLI' laptop that your market will be hardcore gamers willing to spend upwards of £1500. These customers demand the best performance by their very nature of being serious enough about gaming to buy a £2000 laptop! Personally i find it incredibly bad business to take someones money and then provide no driver updates/support for the most crucial piece of hardware in the item sold. It is time that nVidia realised that they need to provide MORE support for the mobile SLI market and start adding hardware they themselves have allowed to use SLI into their normal forceware drivers. SLI laptops are more 'desktop replacement' than laptop. Thank you for reading. Leon. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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