The drivers are sorted by their release date in the diagrams. The earliest version (177.41) is colored yellow; the two drivers of the 178.xx series are colored teal; and the new 180.48 driver is blue. That’s what it looks like in the diagrams:
- GeForce 177.41
- GeForce 178.13
- GeForce 178.24
- GeForce 180.48
Before analyzing the results I want to note one important thing. The version 180.48 driver surprised me unpleasantly as it did not offer the very popular resolution of 1280x1024 pixels, suggesting to select 1280x960 instead. I could not add that resolution into the Custom resolution section of the driver’s Control Panel and each attempt to test the card at 1280x1024 was unsuccessful. I did not have time to wait for Nvidia’s tech support to answer my request. What was the most annoying fact, the 180.48 driver was tested the last of all, so I could not just select the resolution of 1280x960 in all the other drivers as it would have made it necessary to perform all the tests once again.
Well, the resolution of 1280x960 is less than 6.3% smaller than 1280x1024, and graphics cards do not show a linear dependence of performance on the display resolution. Besides, we have the same and less CPU-dependent resolution of 1920x1200 which I will focus on in my analysis.
Two synthetic benchmarks come first.
There is no performance growth on transitioning to newer drivers in 3DMark06. The 178 series drivers are a little better than version 177.41 whereas version 180.48 is better at 1280x1024 due to the lower resolution and equals the other versions at 1920x1200.
Version 180.48 is ahead of the other three in 3DMark Vantage at both resolutions. This benchmark doesn’t calculate the overall score for the resolution of 1280x960, so there is only the GPU Score in the diagram for that driver.
Unigine Tropics Demo
I used version 1.1 of this beautiful demo/benchmark. Its settings look like follows (I changed the resolution, AF and AA):
And here are the results:
The 180.48 driver makes the card a little faster in the new Unigine Tropics demo, too.
Thus, the new driver provides a small performance gain in two out of the three synthetic benchmarks. And what about games?