As we have already told our readers, it has become a tendency in contemporary consumer 3D graphics industry that the driver may often be of greater importance than the hardware itself, especially now that multi-processor graphics systems are getting more popular. The developers are constantly improving the software side of their solutions trying to achieve the most optimal performance in as many contemporary gaming titles as possible that is why new graphics cards drivers are being released on a regular basis. Sometimes they may also roll out an urgent fix for some critical performance or image quality issue.
In our previous article we discussed the new ATI Catalyst 9.1 driver version and found out that it really provided a noticeable performance improvement in certain games compared with the previous ATI Catalyst 8.12. This time it is Nvidia’s turn. Although the company often releases interim beta-versions without the WHQL status, we do not use them in our reviews on purpose, as we prefer to work with certified drivers only. Just a few days ago the company released another version of their certified GeForce 182.06 driver, and they claimed this version would have pretty significant improvements and innovations. Here is a brief list of the most significant changes:
- Full OpenGL 3.0 support for all GeForce GTX 200, GeForce 9 and GeForce 8 graphics cards.
- Up to 8% performance boost in Fallout 3 in high resolutions with enabled FSAA.
- Up to 10% performance boost in F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin.
- Up to 9% performance boost in Half-Life 2 in high resolutions with enabled FSAA.
- Up to 11% performance boost in Left 4 Dead in high resolutions with enabled FSAA.
- Up to 10% performance boost in Race Driver: GRID in high resolutions with enabled FSAA.
Moreover, version 182.06 acquired supports for hardware PhysX acceleration for all Nvidia cards starting with GeForce 8 series that have at least 256MB of local video memory onboard. They also claimed to have fixed certain problems connected with switching power-saving modes on GeForce 8/9 solutions.
Just like with ATI Catalyst 9.1, we decided to check out if Nvidia’s claims are actually true and how beneficial driver upgrade with the new version 182.06 may turn out for a mainstream gamer. To achieve these goals, we ran a few tests showing the contemporary graphics accelerators performance with the new driver in a number of popular games, including the ones mentioned above.