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NVIDIA ForceWare 257.15 Performance Analysis

NVIDIA has just released a new ForceWare driver for GeForce graphics cards - We check out performance under Windows 7.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Tue, May 25 2010 11:03 AM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

Introduction




NVIDIA ForceWare 257.15 Performance Analysis 02 | TweakTown.com
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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.


Performance Improvements

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)

Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage


NVIDIA ForceWare 257.15 Performance Analysis 99 | TweakTown.com


We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASRock, Kingston, Western Digital, Noctua and Thermaltake.

As we mentioned in our introduction, we'll be looking at the new 257.15 drivers against the previous 197.41 ones. We'll be looking at both the single GTX 470 and GTX 480 while also looking at the GTX 470 in SLI.

Fingers crossed we'll see some good performance gains. As we mentioned already, the models did get off to a bit of a rocky start, but we've seen companies like Galaxy and Palit offer us upgraded cooling which combats both the heat and noise issue. Today hopefully the new drivers will fix some of the performance issues we had with the driver.

Let's get started!


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 257.15 Performance Analysis 20 | TweakTown.com


GTX 470 SLI - Here we see a very nice performance gain under both presets.

GTX 480 - Here we see a very nice performance gain under both presets.

GTX 470 - Here we see a very nice performance gain under both presets.

Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5


Resident Evil 5

Version and / or Patch Used: Demo Benchmark
Developer Homepage: www.residentevil.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.residentevil.com/




Resident Evil 5 is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on September 18. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.

NVIDIA ForceWare 257.15 Performance Analysis 21 | TweakTown.com


GTX 470 SLI - Performance is a little wonky here; we only see a gain at the highest resolution.

GTX 480 - We see a bump in performance at all resolutions.

GTX 470 - We see a bump in performance at all resolutions.

Benchmarks - BattleForge


BattleForge

Version and / or Patch Used: Auto Patched at Load
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.battleforge.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.battleforge.com/





The Gods have disappeared and the old sun has died, letting a vile twilight engulf the world of Nyn. In exchange for all treasures the mortals possessed, the evil giants agreed to forge a new sun and hurl it into the sky.

But the deal was betrayed, the treasure stolen and now the mortals flee the wrath of the giants. Under the light of a new sun the mortals stumble into a world changed and twisted by an age of twilight. The long journey home has become a conquest of survival.

Note: Supporting DirectX 11 we have seperated the graphs for NVIDIA and ATI cards. While the numbers between the two brands can be compared you have to make note that ATI based HD 5000 series cards are running DirectX 11.

NVIDIA ForceWare 257.15 Performance Analysis 22 | TweakTown.com


GTX 470 SLI - We see some good gains here with the best ones being seen at the lower resolutions.

GTX 480 - We see a bump in performance at all resolutions.

GTX 470 - We see a bump in performance at all resolutions.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.


Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/UK/default.aspx
Product Homepage: http://www.hawxgame.com/





Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X is an arcade-style flight simulator video game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and iPhone OS.

The fundamental gameplay mechanics are similar to those of other console-based flight series. Players take on enemies with over 50 aircraft available. Each mission is at real world locations in environments created with commercial satellite data. A cockpit, first person, and third person view are selectable. The third person view gives the player an external view of both their plane and the target.

Set above the skies of a near-future world, increasingly dependent on private military companies with elite mercenaries who have a relaxed view on the law. As these non-governmental organizations gain power, global conflict erupts with one powerful PMC attacking the United States.

NVIDIA ForceWare 257.15 Performance Analysis 23 | TweakTown.com


GTX 470 SLI - We see a bump in performance at all resolutions with the best being seen at the higher resolutions.

GTX 480 - We see a nice little bump in performance at 1920 x 1200 and above.

GTX 470 - We see a bump in performance at all resolutions.

Benchmarks - Darkest of Days


Darkest of Days

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.4
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.darkestofdays.com/index.php
Product Homepage: http://www.darkestofdays.com/index.php





Darkest of Days takes the player through time into historic battles in an effort to save key individuals from certain death. The battles range from Custer's Last Stand at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876 to fighting in Pompeii as ash and fire rain down from an erupting Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. Other locations include the battles of Antietam and Tannenberg, and a German World War II P.O.W. camp. There are different missions in every time period and the game takes about 4 hours to complete.

The game features over twenty weapons, both from the original time period as well as those brought back from the future. In addition, there are artillery weapons from different time periods to assist in battle.

Note: With the PhysX set to Medium or High Darkest of Days take advantage of the NVIDIA PhysX abilities. For that reason we will test ATI cards at the Low preset, NVIDIA based cards though will be tested at Low and High.

NVIDIA ForceWare 257.15 Performance Analysis 24 | TweakTown.com


GTX 470 SLI - We see a bump in performance at all resolutions.

GTX 480 - Across the board we see a nice performance boost.

GTX 470 - Here we see a small bump in performance, but nothing major at all.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2


Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/
Buy It Here




The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

NVIDIA ForceWare 257.15 Performance Analysis 25 | TweakTown.com


GTX 470 SLI - Some great gains are seen at the highest resolution, but at 1680 x 1050 we saw a bit of a dip. We tested this multiple times and the worst result we got was 44 FPS minimum with the average being around 99 FPS.

GTX 480 - Across the board we see a nice bump in performance.

GTX 470 - We see a bump at the higher resolutions, but again at 1680 x 1050 the performance has dropped back slightly in the minimum department. Fortunately, the drop isn't as major as the SLI one.

Benchmarks - Batman Arkham Asylum


Batman Arkham Asylum

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com/





Batman: Arkham Asylum exposes players to a unique, dark and atmospheric adventure that takes them to the depths of Arkham Asylum - Gotham's psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Gamers will move in the shadows, instigate fear amongst their enemies and confront The Joker and Gotham City's most notorious villains who have taken over the asylum.

Using a wide range of Batman's gadgets and abilities, players will become the invisible predator and attempt to foil The Joker's demented scheme.
Batman: Arkham Asylum features an original story penned exclusively for the game by famous Batman author and five-time Emmy award winner Paul Dini, whose credits include Lost season one and Batman: The Animated Series.

Note: With support for PhysX NVIDIA based cards will be tested with the technology on and off, ATI cards will be tested with the technology off due to it not being supported on their cards.

NVIDIA ForceWare 257.15 Performance Analysis 26 | TweakTown.com


GTX 470 SLI - Under SLI we see some massive performance gains with the 30 FPS minimum finally being broken at 2560 x 1600.

GTX 480 - We see a bump in performance at all resolutions.

GTX 470 - We see a small boost to no real change here.

Benchmarks - Dark Void


Dark Void

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.airtightgames.com
Product Homepage: http://www.darkvoidgame.com/




The game's story takes place during World War II and centers around a cargo pilot named William Augustus Grey (voiced by Nolan North) who is teleported to another world while flying through the Bermuda Triangle. In this world, known as the 'Void', Will encounters an alien race as well as other humans, which are known as the Watchers and the Survivors respectively.

Will reluctantly joins the Survivors who are engaged in a feud with the alien race to satisfy his desire to return to Earth. While aiding the Survivors, Will discovers that the Void is a middle ground that connects both the Watchers homeworld and Earth. It also becomes apparent that the Watchers are supplying the Axis powers with various supplies for reasons unknown. With the help of Nikola Tesla, Will utilizes retrofited Watcher technology to combat the Watchers and eventually find a way to escape the Void.

NVIDIA ForceWare 257.15 Performance Analysis 27 | TweakTown.com


GTX 470 SLI - Performance is a bit all over the place here again at the lower resolution. At 2560 x 1600 we do see a performance boost, though.

GTX 480 - Across the board we see a bump in performance at all resolutions.

GTX 470 - Across the board we see a bump in performance at all resolutions.

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.


Far Cry 2

NVIDIA ForceWare 257.15 Performance Analysis 28 | TweakTown.com


GTX 470 SLI - We see a nice boost here with AA and AF turned on.

GTX 480 - We see a nice boost here with AA and AF turned on.

GTX 470 - We see a nice boost here with AA and AF turned on.


Resident Evil 5

NVIDIA ForceWare 257.15 Performance Analysis 29 | TweakTown.com


GTX 470 SLI - We see a nice little boost here with AA and AF turned on.

GTX 480 - We see a nice boost here with AA and AF turned on.

GTX 470 - We see no change here.


Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

NVIDIA ForceWare 257.15 Performance Analysis 30 | TweakTown.com


GTX 470 SLI - We see a nice boost here with AA and AF turned on.

GTX 480 - We see a little movement, but not much.

GTX 470 - We see a nice boost here with AA and AF turned on.

Final Thoughts




Performance improvements for the most part are very present. There's a few weird numbers being thrown around, but you've got to remember we're dealing with a beta driver here. Hopefully by the time we get a full-on WHQL one these few issues will be fixed; there seems to be no good reason why we would be seeing less performance with the latest drivers.

Outside of some fantastic performance improvements, there's some really nice new features added to the driver. I would highly recommend that you head on over to the NVIDIA blog hereand read the post as it really explains some of the new features that are seen in the new driver release.

Really, for the most part we've got no idea why you wouldn't make the move over to this driver from the current 197 driver that you're probably already using. If you haven't got a GTX 400 series card, but you're going to pick one up, make sure you grab the latest driver.

Sure, there are a few random issues, but there's nothing too serious. If you're gaming at 1920 x 1200 or 2560 x 1600 the latest driver does a great job of giving us a serious boost in performance which is always appreciated.

It would've been nice to see this driver with the launch of the card, but who are we to complain. It's here now and we look forward to some more GTX 400 cards arriving that are going to be able to make use of the new driver along with the new found performance.

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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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