We test the latest Beta drivers to see who is the single-GPU champ
Earlier this year both AMD and Nvidia released all-new 28nm GPUs, resulting in AMD taking the single-GPU performance crown momentarily with its HD 7970 before Nvidia swiped it away a few months later with its GeForce GTX 680. It’s been awhile since we’ve even thought about either of these cards as we’ve been busy testing their binned counterparts for most of the year, but this past week AMD released a new Beta driver that it claims provides "significant" performance improvements for its already-potent HD 7000 series cards. Just one day later Nvidia pounced, releasing its own Beta driver which also claimed to boost performance in a wide variety of popular titles. This happens all the time; as soon as one manufacturer holds an advantage the other strikes back in order to help drag the performance crown back to its own camp, typically via an overclocked card, improved drivers, or both.
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) promised performance gains of up to 15 percent with its Catalyst 12.11 driver, which the company announced in conjunction with its "Never Settle" game bundles. Our own evaluation of the driver update using a Radeon HD 7970 yielded mostly minor framerate bumps compared to Catalyst 12.8, though performance did improve in the majority of games and benchmarks we tested it with. If you're interested in grabbing the new driver package, it's now available to download, albeit in beta form.
Nvidia's relationship with the open source Linux community is sometimes strained, such as when Linus Torvalds flipped Nvidia the bird and dropped f-bombs at the GPU maker in frustration over the lack of Linux support. It is what it is, and slowly but surely, things are improving. Proof of that can be found in Nvidia's new 304.51 display driver for Linux, which addresses a whole bunch of issues and adds support for several graphics cards.
While the rest of us were busy browsing through the deal-tastic Steam Summer Sale, Intel was busy quietly releasing a new set of WHQL-certified graphics drivers for Windows 8 to ensure that integrated graphics types -- including people who like to casually frag on their notebooks -- will be able to get their game on with a minimum of buggy fuss. The new drivers run with Windows 8 Release Preview, but Intel says they'll be good for Windows 8 proper, too.
Nvidia's engineers sure have been busy recently! Just days after releasing a WHQL-certified driver designed specifically for the Windows 8 Release Preview, a new beta driver has landed in our laps today. The GeForce 304.79 beta drivers are important for a couple of different reasons: they're the first drivers to enable TXAA anti-aliasing as well as the first unified Windows drivers to integrate Windows 8 in with Windows XP, 7 and Vista. The drivers are promised to work with notebooks and desktops alike.
A new Catalyst software suite, version 12.6, is available from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) for Radeon and FireStream graphics card owners. The new driver packages, which play nice with Windows XP on up to Windows 7, offer up additional Dual Graphics Technology profiles for a handful of DirectX 9 games, and also stomp out a series of bugs that are mostly applicable to Windows 7.
Playing around with operating systems in their beta stages can be problematic when it comes to driver support, as Windows 8-rocking gamers can no doubt attest; the graphics card beta drivers released for the various Previews haven't exactly been bug-free. Those error-rife days may be in the past for GeForce owners now that Nvidia has released new WHQL-certified drivers for the Windows 8 Release Preview.
Linus Torvalds opened a can of worms when he took verbal, caught-on-video issue with what he perceives as a continued indifference towards Linux by Nvidia. Actually, scratch that -- maybe it wasn't what he said, but how he said it, calling Nvidia "the worst company we've ever dealt with" and extending middle fingers and f-bombs in the company's honor. Yesterday, Nvidia's PR team took time to respond to the allegations.
Nvidia's rolled out its latest iteration of beta drivers, and these looks like a must-have for GTX 600-series owners. In addition to the usual performance tweaks and added SLI and 3D Vision profiles for GTX 400, 500 and 600-series cards, the GeForce 304.48 beta drivers pack in fixes for some troublesome problems that have been irking GeForce GTX 600 adopters.
Windows 8 Release Preview up and running? Check. Nvidia GeForce graphics card? Check. Appropriate GPU drivers for Windows 8? You can check that one off as well, assuming you're running Windows 8 with a GeForce graphics card. If so, Nvidia's new GeForce R302 preview driver is just for you. Bear in mind that it's to be used only with the Win 8 Release Preview build, so if you're rocking an earlier version, these aren't the drivers for you.