Trying to be ahead of the competitor, Nvidia and ATI often save time on optimizing the driver for their newest graphics processors and cards but it is no secret that Nvidia’s GeForce and ATI’s Catalyst driver are an important factor of the success of new graphics solutions. As an example I can recall that there was no official driver available at the time of the launch of the G200 and RV770 processors and appropriate cards, and hardware reviewers had to use imperfect and unstable beta versions. The test results could not be called truly objective and there could be a large dispersion in the numbers from different sources even within one game or benchmark.
An official certified driver does not always make the graphics card faster. More often it aims at correcting errors and supporting new games. However, both Nvidia and ATI keep on claiming that driver updates bring about higher performance in certain games or benchmarks. These claims are not proved in practice as often as we might want, though. To check out the performance benefits provided by the different versions of the Nvidia GeForce and ATI Catalyst driver I want to offer you two reviews comparing the speed of the same card with a few versions of the driver. The next review will be published after the release of the promising Catalyst 8.12 and will cover the performance of the Radeon HD 4870 with different versions of Catalyst. And in today’s review you will see how Nvidia’s driver for the GeForce GTX 260 (216SP) card has been evolving. Why did I choose this graphics card model? Because Zotac provided me with their new GeForce GTX 260 AMP2! Edition. Let’s check it out first.
Zotac GeForce GTX 260 AMP2! Edition 896MB
Package and Accessories
Zotac International Limited is quite a newcomer on the graphics card market. The company entered it in the last year only. The Zotac GeForce GTX 260 AMP2! Edition 896MB card comes in a large upright-standing cardboard box showing a picture of a ferocious dragon with outstretched wings.
You can also learn about the card’s characteristics and warranty terms here. A sticker on the box informs you that a copy of Race Driver GRID is included into the box. The back side of the box describes key features of Nvidia’s GPU but mentions 192 unified shader processors whereas this card actually has 216. This must be the box from the older version of Zotac’s AMP! series cards, but they put an “AMP2!” sticker on the front of the box anyway.
The graphics card is securely fixed in a plastic case within the central compartment. Under and around it the following accessories can be found:
From left to right and from top to bottom:
- S-Video→YPbPr adapter
- 15-pin HDTV adapter
- DVI→D-Sub adapter
- Installation guide
- Two power cables with 6-pin connectors
- Audio cable
- CD with driver
- DVD with Race Driver GRID
It is good that there are two power cables (they usually include only one) and a modern and visually advanced game in the kit.