NVIDIA 337.50 Driver Comparison
Reviewed by: ccokeman
Reviewed on: April 13, 2014
NVIDIA 337.50 Beta Driver Comparison Introduction:
As the quest for more performance rolls on, both AMD and NVIDIA are working hard behind the scenes to really drive game performance with significant driver optimizations and the use of new APIs such as AMD's Mantle. These optimizations seemingly always find the magical 10+% performance boost month after month, and there has to be a break-even point somewhere, right? You would think at least, but here we go again.
NVIDIA has delivered its latest driver set, the 337 series, that looks to deliver performance gains across the board with some significant targeted gains in games using both single and multiple DX11 capable GPU combinations. What that means is that instead of relying on a new API for a performance boost, NVIDIA is showing that using the current DX11 API it can deliver performance optimizations that boost performance in all games. Further providing that all inclusive gaming experience, NVIDIA has included GeForce Experience 2.0 in this driver release that now has been updated with profiles for 150 games.
When you look at the potential gains, you may or may not see the maximum benefit in some of the games you play. I say potential because the list below says "UP TO" X%. The only way to truly know what you will see is to test these combinations and come up with a reasonable conclusion as to how the drivers perform on a current high performance build. To do that we will use our OCC video card test bed and run a few of the combinations through a few tests to see how well the new 337.50 beta drivers perform.
GeForce GTX 700 Series (Single GPU):
- Up to 64% in Total War: Rome II
- Up to 25% in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Up to 23% in Sleeping Dogs
- Up to 21% in Star Swarm
- Up to 15% in Batman: Arkham Origins
- Up to 10% in Metro: Last Light
- Up to 8% in Hitman Absolution
- Up to 7% in Sniper Elite V2
- Up to 6% in Tomb Raider
- Up to 6% in F1 2013
GeForce GTX 700 Series (SLI):
- Up to 71% in Total War: Rome II
- Up to 53% in Sniper Elite V2
- Up to 45% in Aliens vs. Predator
- Up to 31% in Sleeping Dogs
- Up to 20% in CoD: Black Ops 2
- Up to 10% in Hitman Absolution
- Up to 9% in F1 2013
- Up to 7% in Far Cry 3
- Up to 6% in Metro: Last Light
- Up to 6% in Batman: Arkham Origins
The OCC test bench consists of the following components and is fairly representative of a high end gaming machine that a good portion of the enthusiast and gaming community is equipped with. Not to mention these cards are in the targeted card segment and make up both the mid and upper end of NVIDIA's GTX Gaming series cards. I will be using Batman: Arkham Origins, Metro: Last Light, Far Cry 3, Battlefield 4, and Star Swarm as the games of choice in this comparison. As seen above these games can see gains of +10% in a single card configuration, so should prove to be useful comparisons.
- Processor: Intel Fourth Generation Core i7 4770K @ 4.4GHz
- CPU Cooling: Custom Water cooling from Swiftech
- Motherboard: MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming
- Memory: Patriot Viper 3 4x4GB 2400MHz
- Video Cards: NVIDIA GTX 770 x2, NVIDIA GTX 780 Ti x2, GTX 750 Ti
- Power Supply: Corsair AX1200
- Hard Drive: Corsair Force GT 240GB SSD
- Optical Drive: Lite-On Blu-ray
- Case: Corsair Obsidian 650D
- OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
Let's start with the low end and look at what the GTX 750 Ti gives us in terms of performance gain with the 337.50 drivers. The games were run at the same setting as the more capable GTX 770 and GTX 780 Ti, with the exception of the Star Swarm test where the High preset was used instead of the Extreme preset.
To start off, the results of my GTX 750 Ti testing showed an increase in performance in three of the five game tests. BF4 and Metro: Last Light both saw about a 2.5% boost in performance. Star Swarm, an exercise in how to boost performance with a new API, shows the biggest improvement at roughly 11.5% over the previous driver version. In Batman and Far Cry 3 we did not see an increase in performance with this card. Let's see how the more capable cards run in a single and multi GPU configuration run, and if the results are comparable.
NVIDIA 337.50 Beta Driver Comparison:
A mid range card showed improvements in three out of the five tests and falls into that "Up To" range when you look at the results. The GTX 770 and GTX 780 Ti are more the intended targets since we have the ability to run these cards in both single and SLI configurations and should not be as GPU bound as the GTX 750 Ti was based on the settings used. All of the game settings are configured for our video card tests and you can take a look back at any of our most recent video card reviews if you are so inclined. But let's get onto the test. I will run both the GTX 770 and GTX 780 Ti in single and SLI tests at both 1920x1080 and 5760x1080 to see if we get the desired performance boosts in game. Also with the settings used we will see if being GPU bound has an impact on the overall performance boost.
Metro: Last Light:
Batman: Arkham Origins:
Far Cry 3:
From looking at the results, as long as you are not GPU bound, it seems as though the 337.50 drivers do offer some upside in most of the games tested. Star Swarm sees a 25% boost on the GTX 770 and the GTX 780 Ti is closer to 30%, exceeding the "up to" 21% stated on the release notes. In BF4 the single card gains were minimal, as were the gains at 5760x1080. However when you run the SLI numbers at 1920x1080 you get an easy 5% to 6% boost. Metro: Last Light, much like BF4, shows minimal gains at 5760x1080, but shows promise in both the single and SLI testing at 1920x1080, with gains as high as 8%. The greatest performance boost in Batman: Arkham Origins bucked the trend of being GPU bound with a pair of GTX 780 Ti in SLI by bringing home a 10% boost in performance. Far Cry 3 shows gains in almost every test; the largest gains coming from the SLI configurations at 1920x1080 with the GTX 770s delivering a 7% boost and the GTX 780 Tis delivering a 4% boost using the new driver.
Overall we see some of the performance brought to life with this new driver set and in the end it does deliver higher FPS in games outside those specified in the release notes. Your mileage will vary, of course, depending on your system configuration.