Last month we mentioned NVIDIA's plans for their upcoming drivers: the 256 series of drivers (don't ask us why they jumped from 197 to 256). Today, NVIDIA has released the first beta of the 256 drivers. We'll keep this short as our previous article already covered what this release entails, but you can read the full press release or just grab the drivers from NVIDIA and start testing. If you need a few buzz words to keep you interested, the new release boosts GTX 400 performance while adding support for Blu-ray 3D, CUDA 3.1, and OpenGL 4.0.

Perhaps more important for laptop users is that starting with the 256 series, all desktop and notebook drivers will launch in tandem, so you can get the 256 beta for any NVIDIA equipped desktop or laptop—including Optimus laptops—with one small exception. If you have a laptop with switchable graphics (i.e. Alienware M11x and ASUS UL30/50/80Vt to name a few) you'll have to go through your manufacturer for driver updates.

For those that prefer direct links, here are the desktop Windows 7/Vista 32-bit and 64-bit drivers, and for laptops the 32-bit and 64-bit releases. Those with other operating systems can search for your specific driver—Desktop and *nix (Linux, Solaris, and FreeBSD) users get 256 drivers across the board; XP remains with the 197 drivers for laptops but a 256 release is available for *nix.

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  • veri745 - Monday, May 24, 2010 - link

    Anyone else with a UL30/50/80 feel a bit screwed by ASUS? I purchased a UL80Vt based off of the review here, but have been quite disappointed that the graphics drivers haven't been updated since I bought it.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, May 24, 2010 - link

    I don't have a laptop I can test this with, but if you check on the ASUS download site I think they may have updated the drivers for the ULxxVt series recently. Contrary to logic, instead of going to Notebooks->UL80->UL80Vt, your best bet is to go to Notebooks->Drivers->VGA. You can find 189.64 drivers that might work on the UL80Vt. I'll ping ASUS though and see if they have any news -- I know Alienware/Dell updated the M11x with 197 drivers in the last month.
  • veri745 - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    I poked around the VGA driver page you mentioned and found nothing, so I contacted ASUS support.

    They confirmed that there are no driver updates, and it didn't sound too hopeful that there would be any in the future, either. The reply to my message included a suggestion to hack together the newer Nvidia drivers and included a link to this page:

    I can't believe they would respond with an answer of "No we're not supporting our product, but there are some internet pages and have hacks to fix that"

    I don't even care about the Nvidia drivers; I really just want the updated Intel IGP drivers to support Flash 10.1
  • NYHoustonman - Tuesday, May 25, 2010 - link

    Seconded. I bought the N61Jv after reading the Anandtech review, and it's a fantastic machine, but NVidia's support has been pretty abysmal. They've released a fix for the SC2 beta which was appreciated, but I can't help but feel like I'm using a very stripped down graphics driver. Particularly, I'd love to have some control over the Powermizer settings, but I can't find a way to change them using the Optimus drivers currently posted.
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, May 25, 2010 - link

    Missing power mixer settings ist just normal for their drivers.
  • NYHoustonman - Tuesday, May 25, 2010 - link

    Seems that way, but I tried the most recent vanilla (non-Optimus) drivers and they do have power settings included. Would be nice to see that functionality for those of us with Optimus (not to mention it seems none of the problems mentioned in the review posted here have been fixed). The concern expressed by the author in that review was that NVidia would fail to do their part in keeping things up-to-date, and it seems that fear was well-founded, at least up until now.
  • ChrisRice - Monday, May 24, 2010 - link

    Feels like a Linux article on this new driver may be forth coming.
  • Cat - Monday, May 24, 2010 - link

    How does the 256 driver work on the new MacBook Pros?
  • Veerappan - Monday, May 24, 2010 - link

    In Linux, or Mac OS? Either way, I'm interested in the results. In Mac OS because I want faster OpenGL gaming. In Linux for battery life improvements... Either one I'd welcome.
  • lowlymarine - Monday, May 24, 2010 - link

    Unfortunately, Apple doesn't allow nVidia (or any other 3rd party, for that matter) to provide reference drivers on OSX. It's up to Apple to push out 256, and if tradition holds it'll take them several months to do so.

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