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Wondrous Drivers, or How Do You Bring Together Detonator 44.03 and 5900XT?

There’s one driver from NVIDIA which dramatically improves the performance of NVIDIA’s GPUs in 3DMark 2001. It is Detonator 44.03. It contains optimizations to push the performance up in Dragothic Lo Detail and Nature and slightly adds to the score in Dragothic Hi Detail.

This driver is WHQL-certified, is not prohibited by Futuremark, but there’s an unwritten agreement among benchmarkers: if others don’t use this driver, 44.03 is considered nearly like cheating and the result won’t get any approval. On the other hand, if version 44.03 is commonly accepted for a certain class of graphics cards, it’s unreasonable to pass by this opportunity of getting another speed boost. A couple of examples:

  1. We had the second place in the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra class and were less than 1000 points to the first place. We would easily win installing 44.03. However, this would be an infringement of the fair play principle since MickeyMouse used the ordinary driver (and would outperform us once again switching to 44.03).
  2. It seems quite possible from the ethical point of view to use Detonator 44.03 with the GeForce FX 5900/5900 Ultra/5950 Ultra as all the best results in these categories were set by respected members of the overclocker community (Hiwayman, Fugger, Kunaak) with this exactly driver. It’s useless to compete with them using another driver.

An attentive reader may ask a question, “What 5700 Ultra and what 5950? This driver doesn’t recognize the new cards and can’t work with them!” Yes, it’s impossible to install a freshly-downloaded Detonator 44.03 on new cards. But there’s one shamanic rite…

The key is simple: add two lines to the nv4_disp.inf file, in accordance to your graphics card. This file contains a section called [NVIDIA.Mfg] (use search in the Notepad). This section contains lines of the following kind:

%NVIDIA_NV30.DEV_0301.1% = nv4_SSPoll, PCI\VEN_10DE&DEV_0301

So add another line:

%NVIDIA_NV35.DEV_0332.1% = nv4_NV3x,  PCI\VEN_10DE&DEV_0332

Then, there’s Localizable Strings section at the end of the inf file. Add one line to this section too:

NVIDIA_NV35.DEV_0332.1 = «NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900XT»

After that, install the driver as you ordinarily do: it detects and recognizes your GeForce FX 5900XT.

If you’re too lazy to do it yourself, download this modified nv4_disp.inf file with all the info about the 5900XT. You should place it into the folder with the unzipped Detonator 44.03, writing over the original file.

The effect of another driver is only noticeable in 3DMark 2001, so it’s unreasonable to install Detonator 44.03 to get any gains in games. 3DMark is impressive, though, especially if you’ve been running the same card on 53.03 for long…

Of course, this is the purest of application-specific optimizations, but extra 1,500 points is a real gift for people who strive for the top, and a totally legal gift (at least for the 5900XT – from any point of view).

Still, it’s not all simple with version 44.03. I didn’t examine this driver with other graphics cards (although, considering 690/1080MHz on Hiwayman’s card, there’s no such problem with the 5900 Ultra at least), but the 5900XT loses the GPU frequency after its installation. I don’t know how to explain this fact, but the difference between Detonator 53.03 and 44.03 amounted to 45MHz GPU frequency loss and 35MHz memory frequency loss. The above-mentioned 645/1075MHz frequencies transformed into 600/1040MHz. Anyway, this didn’t prevent the card from scoring extra 1,500 after the installation of Detonator 44.03.

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