nVidia ForceWare 81.84 BETA Performance Analysis

A couple of days ago nVidia released their much talked about ForceWare Release 80 graphics card driver to the world. The new nVidia ForceWare 81.84 BETA drivers offer such things as performance optimizations when using Dual-Core processors, mixed vendor support for SLI and Black and White 2 support. We examine the drivers in our typical fashion against the last official release driver, ForceWare 78.01. Do the new drivers give some more punch to nVidia's current line-up of GPU's? Read on for the answers!
| Oct 5, 2005 at 11:00 pm CDT
Manufacturer: none

Introduction and Release Notes

IntroductionnVidia is making somewhat of a song and dance about the latest ForceWare driver release. We figured we would give a shout out and get our groove on (Editor Note: Grooving and benchmarking drivers - that's a new one...) with them to see just what is special about Release 80 - 81.84 BETA to be exact. With the release of ATI's Radeon X1800XT just coming out, opinions all over the world are mixed and there is no doubt that nVidia wanted to steal some of the spotlight from ATI by releasing a new driver with some nice features on the same day ATI released their next-generation series of graphics cards.

After benchmarking drivers for a while now I can say without a doubt that most people love to know when they can get extra performance for no cost. With advancements in games happening so fast, it seems that new graphics cards are becoming out dated after every major game release. This makes it important to know when a new VGA driver is released that offers big claims of performance increases, just like this one.While the 81.84 aren't an "official release" driver from nVidia (they're available for download on the nZone website in 32-bit and 64-bit flavors), this hasn't stopped people wanting to know what type of performance increase from the ForceWare 70 series is going to be and rightfully so.This is exactly what we are going to be checking out in this article. Let's not delay and get straight into it but first take a read of the summary release notes from nVidia so we know where we stand.Release notes from nVidiaFrom nVidia:This new Release 80 one provides a glimpse into some of the new features and performance upgrades for our customers with the new drivers, including: - BETA driver to support the availability of the game Black and White 2- Mixed Vendor support for NVIDIA SLI - New PureVideo High Definition De-Interlacing support - Performance optimizations when using dual-core CPUs - HDTV control panel usability improvements Known Issues in this beta version of 81.84 - GeForce 7800 GTX/GT - Application crash with Half-Life 2 Lost Coast. This game functions properly with 78.05 drivers. - GeForce 7800 GTX / GeForce 6800 Ultra / GeForce 6600 - Far Cry with patch 1.33 does not work with HDR. This is also an issue on 77.77, 78.01, 78.03, and 78.05 drivers, but does not occur with 77.72. - GeForce 7800 GTX SLI - Opening the inventory screen in Everquest 2 causes SLI performance to drop to single card level. - GeForce 7 Series / 6 Series, SLI : The control panel may prompt for restart when switching to SLI mode from DualView mode after changing the primary display. It is not recommended to use DualView mode with SLI GPUs at this time. - GeForce 7 Series / 6 Series, SLI: Enabling SLI with a monitor connected to the second GPU causes the display to go black. It is recommended that you use SLI with your monitor connected to your GPU closest to the chipset in this driver (GPU1). - GeForce 7 Series / 6 Series, SLI: Switching from SLI to DualView mode or DualView mode to SLI may cause the display to lose sync. It is not recommended to use DualView mode with SLI GPUs at this time. - GeForce 6800 Ultra SLI, Windows XP - Intermittent application failures when using nForce4 SLI/SLI X16 motherboards.* eVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX * You can see the full release notes from nVidia by downloading their PDF, which is located here.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup and 3DMark03

Test System SetupProcessor(s): AMD Athlon X2 3800+ Motherboard(s): ASUS A8N SLI Premium (Supplied by ASUS)Memory: 2 X 512MB Mushkin PC4000 DDR (Supplied by Mushkin)Hard Disk(s): WD Raptor 74GB 10,000 RPM SATA(Supplied by Western Digital)Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP1Drivers: nVidia ForceWare 78.01 (last official) and 81.84 BETA (newest official BETA) and DX9cWe will be following the same testing pattern as we do with our ATI cards in our monthly articles. Throw a few cards through their paces and see what happens when compared to the last official driver release. The cards we will be using today include the GeForce 6800GT for people still utilizing the 6 series line along with the GeForce 7800GTX in single and SLI modes.* BFG Technologies GeForce 7800GTX * Keep in mind that nVidia have told us that these new drivers include Dual-Core processor optimizations (hence the reason we're using an Athlon X2) so you might not experience the same results as we have if you're using a regular CPU.Are these drivers the X1800XT killers that nVidia hope them to be? Unfortunately we can't tell you because our X1800 still hasn't made its way to our door step. So what we'll try and find out is: Will you get more performance for a free 17MB download? Let's find out right now.3DMark03Version and / or Patch Used: Build 340Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark03/Buy It Here
By combining full DX8 and partial DX9 support with completely new tests and graphics over the previous version, 3DMark03 continues the legacy of being the industry standard 3D benchmark.Please Note: Due to recent events with the 3DMark03 series, we are adding results purely for those who are still in favor of 3DMark03. These results should not be taken too seriously and are only added for interest sakes.
At the lower resolution we really see benefits on the new driver release on all cards.

Benchmarks - 3DMark05

3DMark05Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark05/Buy It Here
3DMark05 is the latest version in the popular 3DMark "Gamers Benchmark" series. It includes a complete set of DX9 benchmarks which tests Shader Model 2.0 and higher.For more information on the 3DMark05 benchmark, we recommend you read our preview here.
Both the GTX in single and SLI modes get a good performance increase from the new driver. We can really see the performance increase on the SLI setup.* eVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX *

Benchmarks - Far Cry

Far CryVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.3Timedemo or Level Used: Ubisoft VolcanoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.crytek.comProduct Homepage: http://www.farcrygame.comBuy It Here
There is no denying that Far Cry is currently one of the most graphic intensive games on the market, utilizing PS2.0 technology (the latest versions support Shader Model 3.0 with DX9c) and offering an exceptional visual experience there is no denying that even some of the faster graphics cards struggle.
Far Cry sees a huge performance increase across the board yet at the lower resolution the 6800GT shows it's ahead of the 7800GTX in both modes.This would be a fluctuation in the scores as when we move to the higher resolution we see the GTX's really shine over the last generation 6800GT.* eVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX *

Benchmarks - Half Life 2

Half Life 2Version and / or Patch Used: UnpatchedTimedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com Product Homepage: http://www.half-life2.comBuy It Here
By taking the suspense, challenge and visceral charge of the original, and adding startling new realism and responsiveness, Half-Life 2 opens the door to a world where the player's presence affects everything around him, from the physical environment to the behaviors even the emotions of both friends and enemies.We benchmark Half Life 2 with our own custom timedemos as to avoid possible driver optimizations using the "record demo_name" command and loading the timedemo with the "timedemo demo_name" command - For a full list of the commands, click here.
Half Life 2 performance shows us an exceptional increase in performance for both the 7800GTX in single and SLI modes. If you couldn't run Half Life like you wanted to before, there is no doubt in our minds that you could now.* BFG Technologies GeForce 7800GTX *

Benchmarks - Doom 3

Doom 3Version and / or Patch Used: UnpatchedTimedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.idsoftware.com Product Homepage: http://www.doom3.comBuy It Here
Doom 3 is the latest game to hit our test lab and is one of the most intensive games to dates. With our own custom time demo we are able to give a realistic rating on what kind of FPS you will be achieving.For more information on benchmarking Doom 3 we recommend you check out our extensive article regarding it here.
While Doom 3 shows a slight increase at the higher resolution the bigger increase can be seen at 1024 x 768.* eVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX *

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AFIn our High Quality tests we bump the Antialiasing (AA) and Anisotropic Filtering (AF) up causing the card(s) to be put under more load.This usually helps us remove the CPU limitation. We use 4 x AA and 8 x AF as this is quite a common setup for most people who are venturing into the AA and AF area.
Performance with AA and AF seems to be very similar between the old drivers and the new one except with the 7800GTX in SLI which sees a slight performance increase.
We again see that only the GTX in SLI gains benefits in the new driver when it comes to high quality tests. This is excellent news to SLI 7800GTX users.* eVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX *

Final Thoughts

Final ThoughtsIf you own a GeForce 7800GT or GTX and you haven't yet updated to the new drivers, head over to nZone and go download them NOW - follow this link to grab the driver, it's 17MB to download. These drivers really offer an exceptional performance increase across the board in a normal gaming experience but when we move to AA and AF we see that there is no real performance increase, if anything a small drop in performance.The release notes we received from nVidia mentioned that the drivers are designed to improve performance on Dual-Core processors and we did see plenty of extra performance using our Athlon X2. This could explain why we see such big improvements in standard gaming but when we enable AA and AF, possibly more of the focus (3D processing power) is put back on the GPU. We can't say for sure but that would make sense.* BFG Technologies GeForce 7800GTX * There is more then just performance increases though as we get a few features that can come in handy like on-the-fly SLI along with the mix and matching of different brand graphics cards. For example, you might have a BFG 7800GTX and an XFX 7800GTX, now you'll be able to run them in SLI mode without any problems. Before you couldn't but this is just one thing nVidia has worked on to help SLI remain the dominant force over ATI's Crossfire solution which still isn't available for sale yet.These drivers have advantage over advantage and you really would be denying yourself if you are the user of a 7800GT or GTX and don't upgrade your drivers. Unlike a lot of other sites, when we receive our R520 sample we will compare it against the latest nVidia drivers and if what other sites are saying is true, we think that the competition will be quite competitive with nVidia's Release 80 ForceWare drivers bringing some impressive performance increases to the table.With that said we must give thanks to ATI for all these rumors on the R520 because if nVidia weren't worried about the R520 they might have not worked so hard on these drivers. So thanks and until the next driver release - Happy Benchmarking!

Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:26 pm CDT

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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.

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