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nForce3 users left out in the cold with Vista

Cyril Kowaliski
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Users with nForce3-based motherboards and ATI graphics cards could get a nasty surprise if they install Windows Vista. According to knowledge base entry #737-24498 on AMD’s website, attempting to install Catalyst drivers for an ATI AGP graphics card on an nForce3-based system running Vista can cause the driver to fail to load and to throw a “code 43” error. The result is that the card ends up stuck in PCI mode with 3D acceleration disabled. AMD says systems with VIA and SiS chipsets initially suffered from the same issue, but that updated Vista chipset drivers from those companies subsequently fixed the problem. However, Nvidia offers no nForce3 chipset drivers for Vista, even though users have been complaining about the problem for some time. We contacted Nvidia’s Bryan Del Rizzo about the subject, and he replied with the following:

nForce3 is not a certified platform for Vista. We are supporting and have certified nForce4, nForce5, and nForce 6OO series only. WHQLed drivers for those platforms are posted to nvidia.com.

Nvidia’s position is surprising, considering the nForce3 250Gb chipset isn’t even three years old, and nForce3 motherboards are still selling even today. Nonetheless, nForce3 users might have to either buy a new motherboard or cough up the dough for a new graphics card if they plan to upgrade to Vista. (Thanks to TR reader Damien for the tip.)

Update: Judging by the forum thread linked above and the comments below, this problem seems to apply only to users running dual-core Athlon 64 X2 processors. nForce3 users with ATI cards and single-core processors may not be affected, although nForce3 chipsets are still officially unsupported in Vista.

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