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NVIDIA ForceWare 180.47 Analysis - XP & Vista

NVIDIA has just released one of its biggest driver releases in quite a while. We analyze them under XP and Vista today.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Mon, Nov 17 2008 11:00 PM CST   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Manufacturer: none

Introduction


NVIDIA ForceWare 180.47 Analysis - XP & Vista



Major NVIDIA driver updates really are few and far between. Unlike ATI who have a regular monthly driver that constantly offers fixes and sometimes performance increases, NVIDIA tend to sit back for a bit before offering a new driver that brings not only a bucket load of fixes and performance enhancements, but a whole lot of new features as well.

The new 180 series of drivers begins with the 180.47. While we will be following our standard driver analysis layout as far as games go, we will add a new page after this one that goes into a bit more detail on the new features that are on offer.

So with that said, let's have a look at what's going on with the latest drivers and see just how much of a step forward they really are.

New Features


- Performance Improvements

NVIDIA has promised faster performance in today's top games, but what's interesting is in the PDF document we received only graphs for two cards where shown; the 9800 GTX+ and the GTX 280 when running in Tri-SLI.

While we won't be testing all the games they have shown us in the benchmark section, hopefully some of what we do test shows improvements. Don't forget, though, if you've tested the new drivers on some new games then feel free to leave comments in our forums regarding the performance.


- SLI on X58

One of the larger features that the new driver offers is SLI support on the new X58 platform from Intel. With our new testbed moving to X58 this is an excellent feature as we will now be able to compare Crossfire and SLI on an even platform.


- Multi Display Support with SLI

While it is fantastic that NVIDIA has finally decided to give us the ability to run multiple displays when using SLI, everyone will tell you that it's something that should have been offered many months ago.


- PhysX on dedicated GPU

While PhysX has been around for a while, we continue to see it not really make an impact on the market. The new drivers give us PhysX on a dedicated GPU, but at the moment we do wonder how enticing that is to people.

While in theory PhsyX is a great piece of technology, it could be years before we see it really become popular, if at all.

Test System Setup and 3DMark06


Test System Setup


Processor(s): Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 3GHz (333MHz x 9)
Cooling: Corsair Nautilus500 (Supplied by Corsair) with Arctic Cooling MX-2 Thermal Compound (Supplied by Arctic Cooling)
Motherboard(s): GIGABYTE X48-DQ6 (Supplied by GIGABYTE)
Memory: 2 X 1GB Kingston PC6400 DDR-2 3-3-3-10 (KHX6400D2ULK2/2G) (Supplied by Kingston)
Hard Disk(s): Seagate 250GB 7200RPM SATA-2 7200.10 (Supplied by Seagate)
Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista
Drivers: ForceWare 178.24 and ForceWare 180.47


As with our Catalyst article, we had hoped to be testing these new drivers on our new X58 testbed. But unfortunately it's still not ready which means we're still running on our older games line-up.

With that said, though, let's see if there are some gains with the new drivers using the 9800 GTX+ from Palit and the GTX 280 from GIGABYTE.


3DMark06

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/
Buy It Here





3DMark06 is the very latest version of the "Gamers Benchmark" from FutureMark. The newest version of 3DMark expands on the tests in 3DMark05 by adding graphical effects using Shader Model 3.0 and HDR (High Dynamic Range lighting) which will push even the best DX9 graphics cards to the extremes.

3DMark06 also focuses on not just the GPU but the CPU using the AGEIA PhysX software physics library to effectively test single and Dual Core processors.

NVIDIA ForceWare 180.47 Analysis - XP & Vista


Across all resolutions we can see both cards don't show any real difference in performance.

Benchmarks - 3DMark Vantage


3DMark Vantage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/
Buy It Here




3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.

3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.

NVIDIA ForceWare 180.47 Analysis - XP & Vista


Under Vantage we can see that both cards see an increase in performance with the best gains being seen at the higher setting.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10


CINEBENCH R10

Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10
Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/
Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net




CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).


NVIDIA ForceWare 180.47 Analysis - XP & Vista


Under CINEBENCH we see that both cards perform very similar with the new drivers installed.

Benchmarks - Crysis


Crysis

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom time demo
Developer Homepage: http://www.crytek.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.ea.com/crysis/
Buy It Here





From the makers of Far Cry, Crysis offers FPS fans the best-looking, most highly-evolving gameplay, requiring the player to use adaptive tactics and total customization of weapons and armor to survive in dynamic, hostile environments including Zero-G.

Real time editing, bump mapping, dynamic lights, network system, integrated physics system, shaders, shadows and a dynamic music system are just some of the state of-the-art features the CryENGINE 2 offers. The CryENGINE 2 comes complete with all of its internal tools and also includes the CryENGINE 2 Sandbox world editing system.


NVIDIA ForceWare 180.47 Analysis - XP & Vista


We can see across the board that performance on the new driver set is a little all over the place. At the lower resolution the 9800 GTX+ performance is slightly down and the same is seen on the GTX 280 at the lowest resolution.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF


High Quality AA and AF

Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.


3DMark06

NVIDIA ForceWare 180.47 Analysis - XP & Vista


Turning on AA and AF under 3DMark06 doesn't show any difference between the two driver sets.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06 - XP


3DMark06

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/
Buy It Here





3DMark06 is the very latest version of the "Gamers Benchmark" from FutureMark. The newest version of 3DMark expands on the tests in 3DMark05 by adding graphical effects using Shader Model 3.0 and HDR (High Dynamic Range lighting) which will push even the best DX9 graphics cards to the extremes.

3DMark06 also focuses on not just the GPU but the CPU using the AGEIA PhysX software physics library to effectively test single and Dual Core processors.


NVIDIA ForceWare 180.47 Analysis - XP & Vista


Moving to Windows XP, we can see across the board there is no real performance difference between the two drivers.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10 - XP


CINEBENCH R10

Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10
Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/
Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net




CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).


NVIDIA ForceWare 180.47 Analysis - XP & Vista


As was the case under Vista, CINEBENCH shows no difference between the two driver sets, which seems to be the theme today.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict - XP


World in Conflict

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.massive.se
Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com




World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10) and the Xbox 360.

The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.

NVIDIA ForceWare 180.47 Analysis - XP & Vista


NVIDIA ForceWare 180.47 Analysis - XP & Vista


While the GTX 280 doesn't show much of a change, we can see that the 9800 GTX+ manages to see some good gains with the new driver set here in the minimum department.

Final Thoughts




The 180.47 drivers are a breath of fresh air for NVIDIA users; there are some excellent features in the new driver set, but we have to wonder how helpful they really are. The lack of PhsyX games is still making the whole PhsyX thing feel like a bit of a waste. Sure, there are more games coming, but as to whether or not these are games that we really want to play still remains to be seen.

While the multi monitor support in SLI is a very nice bonus, it's also a feature that is only going to benefit a minority. There is also no denying that it should have been a feature that was implemented into a driver release a long time before today's one.

While it might seem we're being a bit down on the new NVIDIA driver, just like we were the last, there's no denying that considering the wait between major driver releases we probably have higher expectations. Compared to ATIs monthly releases, it's a tough fight for NVIDIA to really shine.

With all that said, though, there are benefits present which is great. The other thing is performance seems to be concentrated on recently released games like Far Cry 2 which hasn't been added into our line-up yet.

As we mentioned before, if you do test the new drivers against the old in some applications we didn't run, please make a note of how they went in our forums.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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