The only (but significant) advantage of using the proper nvida drivers is that it provides 3d acceleration. ie. although your screen resolution is high, you will notice that the graphics are v.slow when u try and run opengl screensavers, or xmms visualisations or play games like tuxracer or chromium..
To answer your question, hartlandcat, about using gnome + konqueror:
yes, you can do that. If you have both gnome and KDE installed there is generally no problems with running programs from one while using the other. And, yes, you can also access files created in either environment.
UserAgent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.4) Gecko/20030726