ATI video drivers may be more stable than nVidia drivers (but does it matter?)

A friend of mine (who is a reseller for Diamond Multimedia) forwarded me an email last night which shed some interesting insight into video card driver stability with Windows Vista:

ATI Provides Proven Driver Stability

Microsoft is currently involved in a class action lawsuit regarding problems with its “Vista Capable” marketing. As part of this trial, hundreds of pages of internal Microsoft emails were unsealed. If you want to take a look at them, here they are (pdf). Aside from providing some interesting insight into what goes on internally at Microsoft leading up to the release of a new OS, there is also a ranking of the cause of crashes logged with Microsoft.

The rankings, based on crashes logged with Microsoft in 2007, paint a very positive picture of ATI’s graphics drivers. For instance, 28.8% of all Vista crashes were caused by nVidia drivers, compared with 9.3% caused by ATI. When you adjust for market share, we still see that Vista systems are almost half as likely to crash when using an ATI graphics solution…

Author: Blake Eggleston

Now that may be marketing gumbo, but if not, it’s very intriguing.

Of course, the one critical fact missing is how often crashes are caused by video drivers. Do video drivers cause crashes once every 50 hours? 100 hours? 1,000 hours? More than that?

If I use a computer 80 hours a week (rough estimate), a crash every 80 hours is a crash once a week. To me, that’s too much. However, if a crash occurs every 800 hours, that’s one crash every 10 weeks, something which I can tolerate.

As the saying goes, “Better is the enemy of good enough.” nVidia drivers are likely “good enough” — so the “better” ATI drivers (if the claims are true) don’t really matter much, at least not to me.

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