We don't tend to look at NVIDIA drivers regularly. The main reason for that is because NVIDIA don't normally release major ones on a regular basis. Sure, we see a constant flow of beta and WHQL ones, but if we tested all of them all we'd ever be doing is testing NVIDIA drivers. Instead, we just test them when a more major release comes out.
This is one of those times; we're moving from the 197 Series and into the 257 series and NVIDIA are promising some massive gains for its newly released GTX 400 series cards. Sure, the cards got off to a bit of a bumpy start, but hopefully today we'll be able to see some nice performance gains as we test both the GTX 470 and GTX 480 while at the same time looking at the GTX 470 in SLI.
Before we get into the actual performance improvements we saw, let's just have a quick look at what NVIDIA is saying we should see. It's worth noting that NVIDIA say that these are only some of the improvements you'll witness.
Increases performance for GeForce GTX 400 Series GPUs in several PC games. The following are examples of some of the most significant improvements measured with GeForce GTX 480. Results will vary depending on your GPU and system configuration:
Up to 14% in Aliens vs. Predator (1920x1200 noAA/AF - Tessellation on)
Up to 4% in Batman: Arkham Asylum (1920x1200 4xAA/16xAF PhysX=High)
Up to 5% in BattleForge (1920x1200 4xAA/16xAF - Very High settings)
Up to 5% in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (1920x1200 4xAA/16xAF)
Up to 4% in Crysis: Warhead (1920x1200 4xAA/16xAF - Enthusiast setting)
Up to 24% in Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (1920x1200 no AA/AF)
Up to 9% in Far Cry 2 (2560x1600 8xAA/16xAF)
Up to 25% in Just Cause 2 (2560x1600 no AA/AF - Concrete Jungle)
Up to 7% in Metro 2033 (1920x1200 no AA/16xAF - Tessellation on)
Up to 40% in Metro 2033 with SLI ((1920x1200 4xAA/16xAF - Tessellation on)
Up to 8% in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat (1920x1200 no AA/AF - Day)
Up to 110% in Stone Giant with SLI (2650x1600 - Tessellation on, DoF on)
Up to 6% in The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Athena (2560x1600 no AA/AF)
Up to 9% in Unigine: Tropics (2560x1600 no AA/AF - OpenGL)
Up to 5% in 3DMark Vantage (Performance and Extreme Presets)
Up to 19% with Transparency AA (1920x1200 4xTrSS - measured in Crysis)