NVIDIA Detonator Drivers Comparison

With so many new leaked & beta detonator drivers, it is easy to get confused getting the right one. It’s not always the case that the latest version will be the fastest. Sometimes new drivers lead to a performance and/or quality decrease.

I will be testing all the newer 1x.xx series of detonators, from the last official Detonator 3 drivers (version to the latest Detonator XP drivers (version

Most board manufacturers (e.g. ASUS, Hercules, Leadtek) will have customised drivers for their specific cards based on at least one of the benchmarked detonators. Seeing as the OEM manufacturers always base their drivers on nVidia’s detonators, this guide can be used as a comparison for drivers any card based on a GeForce. Here is a list of features for the newer detonator 3 drivers.

  • Full DirectX 8 support

  • Supports GeForce3's nfiniteFX engine

  • Pixel and Vertex Shader support (D3D & OpenGL)

  • Windows® XP compatible

  • AMD Athlon & Intel Pentium 4 optimisations

  • Improved TwinView interface.

  • Stereo3D support (D3D & OpenGL) for 3D glasses such as Elsa’s 3D revelator.

  • Professional quad-buffered stereo for Quadro products

Detonator details

Detonator Version

OS Support


12.41 (last official detonators)

9x, Me, NT4, 2000



9x, Me, 2000



9x, Me, NT4, 2000



NT4, 2000



9x, Me, 2000






9x, Me, 2000


21.81 (XP) (official)

9x, Me, 2000, XP


Although 1x.xx drivers are mainly designed for the GeForce 2/3, there are reports of performance increases on GeForce 256 cards. Riva 128 and TNT/TNT2 based cards should be used with earlier detonators. All 1x.xx drivers are Direct X 8 and GeForce 3 optimised. 12.41 drivers are available for download from nVidia’s site; all other drivers are taken from 3D Chipset. Guru3D should also has them available. XP drivers (formerly Detonator 4) exposes new hardware acceleration for Windows XP, enabling new features such as 3D textures & shadow buffers.


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