NVIDIA ForceWare 266.58 Performance Analysis

The ForceWare driver set gets a new release - We examine it under Windows 7 with a bunch of NVIDIA cards.
| Jan 26, 2011 at 9:35 am CST
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

Introduction

Introduction

VIEW GALLERY - 15 IMAGES


NVIDIA release a heap of drivers. It seems there's one coming out every week lately. Unlike AMD, NVIDIAs betas are really pushed throughout the enthusiast community. If we did the same kind of thing with the NVIDIA ForceWare drivers as we do with AMD and its Catalyst drivers, I would be testing ForceWare drivers 24 / 7.

The ForceWare 266.58 driver set is more important, because unlike a lot of other drivers this is a WHQL one; which for people who prefer to only upgrade when WHQL ones make their way to the market, it could well be time for an upgrade.

With a whole lot of new models recently as well, there's finally a chance to get off those betas and get on some proper WHQL ones. So what are the performance improvements? Let's take a quick look at what's in the release notes before we get stuck into the benchmarks.


Performance

Increases performance for GeForce 400 Series and 500 Series GPUs in several PC games vs. the latest Release 260 drivers. The following are examples of some of the most significant improvements measured on Windows 7. Results will vary depending on your GPU and system configuration:

GeForce GTX 580:

Up to 7% in Battlefield Bad Company 2 (1920x1200 4xAA/16xAF)
Up to 12% in Battleforge (SLI 1920x1200 4xAA/16xAF Very High)
Up to 11% in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (SLI 1920x1200 4xAA/16xAF)
Up to 7% in Dirt 2 (SLI 1920x1200 4xAA/16xAF)
Up to 7% in Far Cry 2 (1920x1200 4xAA/16xAF)
Up to 5% in Just Cause 2 (1920x1200 4xAA/16xAF Dark Tower)
Up to 5% in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat (SLI - 1920x1200 4xAA/16xAF)
Up to 9% in Stone Giant (SLI 1920x1200, DOF on)
Up to 8% in Unigine Heaven v2.1 (SLI 1920x1200 4xAA/16xAF)

Improves performance in Final Fantasy XI on GeForce 400 Series and 500 Series GPUs.

Test System Setup and 3DMark 11

NVIDIA ForceWare 266.58 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, Mittoni, Noctua and Corsair.

Under the release notes only the GTX 580 is mentioned and a lot of the performance improvements seem to be focused around AA / AF and when the cards are running in SLI.

Of course, it does mention improvements on other models including the GTX 400 series, so with a slightly cut down version of our normal benchmark line-up, we'll see how the GTX 580, GTX 570 and GTX 460 compare with one of the older drivers that we've been using for a while.

Let's get started!


3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/
Buy It Here




3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

NVIDIA ForceWare 266.58 Performance Analysis 20 | TweakTown.com


GTX 580 - Here we see no real change.

GTX 570 - Here we see no real change.

GTX 460 - The Performance Preset seemed to have dropped back ever so slightly.

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 266.58 Performance Analysis 21 | TweakTown.com


GTX 580 - The Performance preset seems to have had a small bump here.

GTX 570 - Here we see no real change.

GTX 460 - Here we see no real change.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 2
Developer Homepage: http://www.unigine.com
Product Homepage: http://unigine.com/press-releases/091022-heaven_benchmark//



New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

NVIDIA ForceWare 266.58 Performance Analysis 22 | TweakTown.com


GTX 580 - We see a nice little boost in performance here, especially at 1680 x 1050.

GTX 570 - We see a nice little boost in performance here, especially at 1680 x 1050.

GTX 460 - Here we see no real change.

Benchmarks - Mafia II

Mafia II

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.2kczech.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.mafia2game.com/
Buy It Here




Mafia II is a third-person action-adventure video game, the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. It is developed by 2K Czech, previously known as Illusion Softworks, and is published by 2K Games. The game is set from 1943 to 1951 in Empire Bay (the name is a reference to New York's state nickname "The Empire State"), a fictional city based on San Francisco and New York City, with influences from Chicago and Detroit. The game features a completely open-ended game map of 10 square miles. No restrictions are included from the start of the game. There are around 50 vehicles in the game, as well as licensed music from the era.

NVIDIA ForceWare 266.58 Performance Analysis 23 | TweakTown.com


GTX 580 - Here we see no real change.

GTX 570 - Scores are identical between the two drivers.

GTX 460 - Here we see no real change.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Test A Scene 1
Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.lostplanet2game.com/




Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition which is also made by Capcom, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. The story takes place back on E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. The snow has melted to reveal jungles and more tropical areas that have taken the place of more frozen regions. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates. After destroying a mine, the Mercenaries continue on to evacuate the area, in which a Category-G Akrid appears and attacks them. After being rescued, they find out their evacuation point (Where the Category-G appeared) was a set-up and no pick up team awaited them. The last words imply possible DLC additions to the game, "There's nothing to be gained by wiping out snow pirates... unless you had some kind of grudge."

NVIDIA ForceWare 266.58 Performance Analysis 24 | TweakTown.com


GTX 580 - Under LP2 performance seems to have just dropped buck a little for the GTX 580.

GTX 570 - Scores are almost identical.

GTX 460 - Performance seems to have just fallen back a few FPS across the board.

Benchmarks - Aliens vs. Predator

Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.rebellion.co.uk/
Product Homepage: http://www.sega.com/games/aliens-vs-predator/




Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

NVIDIA ForceWare 266.58 Performance Analysis 25 | TweakTown.com


GTX 580 - Here we see no real change.

GTX 570 - Here we see no real change.

GTX 460 - Scores are identical.

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 266.58 Performance Analysis 26 | TweakTown.com


GTX 580 - Across the board we see a bit of a performance increase at the higher resolutions.

GTX 570 - Across the board we see a nice little speed bump at all resolutions.

GTX 460 - Performance here is a little up and down; ultimately there's very little change.

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.

NVIDIA ForceWare 266.58 Performance Analysis 27 | TweakTown.com


GTX 580 - Here we see no real change.

GTX 570 - Here we see no real change.

GTX 460 - Here we see no real change.

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.

NVIDIA ForceWare 266.58 Performance Analysis 28 | TweakTown.com


NVIDIA ForceWare 266.58 Performance Analysis 29 | TweakTown.com


NVIDIA ForceWare 266.58 Performance Analysis 30 | TweakTown.com


GTX 580 - Here we see no real change.

GTX 570 - Here we see no real change.

GTX 460 - We can see an extra few FPS in some games.

Benchmarks - PhysX Tests

PhysX Tests

Here we're able to find out when PhysX is turned on in games that support it what kind of frame rates we're able to get. We always set PhysX to the highest possible in game settings while also keeping detail at its highest.

NVIDIA ForceWare 266.58 Performance Analysis 31 | TweakTown.com


NVIDIA ForceWare 266.58 Performance Analysis 32 | TweakTown.com


GTX 580 - Batman AA has seen a nice little bump, but Mafia II doesn't show anything different.

GTX 570 - Here we see no real change.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Compared to the older drivers like the 260 series that we had running on our GTX 460, we can see some nice little gains. For the newer cards, though, if you're on something like the 263.09 which has been one of the best for the 500 series cards, then there's not much of a change in a lot of scenarios.

Of course, we don't run all the games that NVIDIA mention in the performance improvements list and nor do we run all the configurations. NVIDIA, like AMD aren't going to say there's improvements for something when there's not, and it seems there's a fair bit of focus on higher end configurations like GTX 580 SLI.

Outside of just the performance improvements, there's always a long list of other extras. Starcraft II now has support for "Ambient Occlusion" which helps improves the quality of lighting and shadows to name just a few things.

3D Vision has also got a long list of improvements including a number focused around 3DVisionLive.com, which is a great site to test out the capabilities of your 3D Vision setup. There's also a bunch of game fixes and game profiles added to the driver.

Also mentioned is improved performance for 3-way and 4-way NVIDIA Surround users, more profiles for 3D Vision surround games and just for normal SLI we've got more games added to the profiles along with some enhancements to some games that were already included.

There's also a bunch of stuff under "other" which covers improvements to viewing HD content. For a full list, it's worth checking out the 266.58 driver page here.

Performance improvements only paint a small part of the picture and on a whole you can see some nice extras have been added to the driver. As we also mentioned in the introduction, being a WHQL driver is also an attractive option for users.

Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:29 pm CDT

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR -

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.

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