GeForce WHQL 327.23 Performance Analysis
Should you upgrade for potentially significant improvements over the last WHQL GeForce drivers? Nvidia suggests that the performance improvements for some games may be up to 19% using the latest drivers released last week. As part of a regular feature for AlienBabelTech, this editor is comparing the performance of 34 benchmarks with the GeForce WHQL 327.23 driver release versus the last GeForce WHQL 320.49 drivers. We are going to give you GTX 780 and GTX 770 results at 1920×1080 and at 2560×1600. As a bonus, we will also compare with Beta 326.19 which is a transitional driver.
This driver performance evaluation will give a natural comparison between the performance improvements since Nvidia’s last driver set when we tested the GeForce 320 family of divers. Later this week, in Part 2, we can again compare the Radeon HD 7970 and HD 7970 at GHz Edition speeds to see how the performance has improved with WHQL 13.9 Catalyst drivers over Catalyst 13.8 Beta.
We are going to test GeForce 327.23 using our current benchmark suite of 30 games plus 4 synthetic benchmarks. Our testing platform is Windows 7 64-bit, using an Intel Core i7-3770K at 4.50GHz, EVGA’s Z77FTW motherboard, and 16GB of Kingston “Beast” HyperX RAM at 2133MHz. The settings and hardware are identical except for the drivers being tested as we use two identical 500GB Seagate HDDs and two 240GB Kingston HyperX SSDs – one of each for Nvidia and one of each for AMD.
At GTX 760 and above, we test at higher settings and resolutions generally than we test midrange cards. All of our games are now tested at two resolutions: 2560×1600 and 1920×1080 at 60Hz, and we use DX11/10/10.1 whenever possible with a very strong emphasis on the latest DX11 games including Crysis 3 and our newest three benches, Metro: Last Light, GRID 2 and Splinter Cell: BlackList
Let’s get right to the test configuration, the driver release notes, and then the results.
Test Configuration & Driver Release Notes
Test Configuration – Hardware
- Intel Core i7 3770K (overclocked to 4.5GHz); Turbo is on. Supplied by Intel.
- EVGA Z77 FTW motherboard (Intel Z77 chipset, latest beta 03-12-13 BIOS, PCIe 3.0 specification; CrossFire/SLI 16x+16x using Plex chip), supplied by EVGA.
- 16GB Kingston DDR3 Kingston RAM (8x2GB, dual-channel at 2133MHz; supplied by Kingston)
- Noctua NH-DH14 CPU cooler plus 7 case fans, supplied by Noctua.
- Nvidia GeForce 770, 2GB, reference clocks, supplied by Nvidia
- Nvidia GTX 780 (3GB, reference clocks), supplied by Nvidia
- Onboard Realtek Audio
- Genius SP-HF 800A speakers, two pairs in 4.0 Quadraphonic configuration, supplied by Genius
- Two identical 500 GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 hard drives configured and set up identically from drive image; one partition for Nvidia GeForce drivers and one for ATI Catalyst drivers
- Two Kingston 240GB HyperX SSDs configured and set up identically from drive image; one partition for Nvidia GeForce drivers and one for ATI Catalyst drivers; supplied by Kingston
- Cooler Master Platinum Pro 1000W PSU, supplied by Cooler Master
- Thermaltake Overseer RX-I full tower case, supplied by Thermaltake
- Philips DVD SATA writer
- HP LP3065 2560×1600 thirty inch LCD
Test Configuration – Software
- Nvidia GeForce WHQL 327.23, Beta 326.19 and WHQL 320.49; High Quality; Single-display Performance mode; Prefer Maximum Performance
- Windows 7 64-bit; very latest updates
- Latest DirectX
- All games are patched to their latest versions.
- Vsync is forced off in the control panels.
- Varying AA enabled as noted in games; all in-game settings are specified with 16xAF always applied; 16xAF forced in control panel for Crysis.
- All results show average frame rates
- Highest quality sound (stereo) used in all games.
- Windows 7 64, all DX9 titles were run under DX9 render paths, DX10 titles were run under DX10 render paths and DX11 titles under DX11 render paths.
- FireStrike (and FireStrike Extreme)
- 3DMark 11
- Heaven 4.0
- Valley 1.0
- Left 4 Dead 2
- Serious Sam 3 BFE
- Alan Wake: Ameican Nightmare
- The Witcher 2
- Borderlands 2
- Alien vs. Predator
- STALKER, Call of Pripyat
- Lost Planet 2
- Civilization V
- Total War: Shogun II
- Crysis 2
- DiRT 3
- DiRT: ShowDown
- Batman: Arkham City
- Battlefield 3
- Max Payne 3
- the Secret World
- Sleeping Dogs
- Sniper Elite V2
- Hitman: Absolution
- Far Cry 3
- Tomb Raider: 2013
- Assassin’s Creed 3
- Crysis 3
- BioShock: Infinite
- Metro: Last Light
- GRID 2
- Splinter Cell: Blacklist
Lets look at Nvidia’s release notes regarding the GeForce 327.23 beta driver before we head to performance testing.
Release Notes Highlights for GeForce 327.23
Please see the GeForce 327.23 Release Highlights
This Game Ready WHQL driver ensures you’ll have the best possible gaming experience and is also a recommended driver update for the Windows 8.1 Preview. GeForce R326 drivers also provide performance increases for a variety of different games.
New in GeForce R326 Drivers
- Performance Boost – Increases performance by up to 19% for GeForce 400/500/600/700 series GPUs in several PC games vs. GeForce 320.49 WHQL-certified drivers. Results will vary depending on your GPU and system configuration. Here is one example of measured gains:
- GeForce GTX 770:
- Up to 15% in Dirt: Showdown
- Up to 6% in Tomb Raider
- GeForce GTX 770 SLI:
- Up to 19% in Dirt: Showdown
- Up to 11% in F1 2012
- SLI Technology
- Added SLI profile for Spinter Cell: Blacklist
- Added SLI profile for Batman: Arkham Origins
- Enables GeForce to SHIELD streaming. Learn more here.
- 4K Displays
- Adds support for additional tiled 4K displays
- Adds support for 4K FCAT testing
- Extended support for tiled 4K features
- Installs new PhysX System Software 9.13.0725.
- Installs HD Audio v18.104.22.168
- Includes support for applications built using CUDA 5.5 or earlier version of the CUDA Toolkit. More information at http://developer.nvidia.com/cuda-toolkit
- Supports OpenGL 4.3 for GeForce 400-series and later GPUs.
- Supports DisplayPort 1.2 for GeForce GTX 600 series GPUs.
- Supports multiple languages and APIs for GPU computing: CUDA C, CUDA C++, CUDA Fortran, OpenCL, DirectCompute, and Microsoft C++ AMP.
- Supports single GPU and NVIDIA SLI technology on DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 11, and OpenGL, including 3-way SLI, Quad SLI, and SLI support on SLI-certified Intel and AMD motherboards
What we can take away from the release notes is that although this is WHQL GeForce 327.13 driver, it is from the family of GeForce 326 drivers, and we should get an interesting comparison by using an early 326.19 Beta driver. These drivers promise significant improvement:
- Performance Boost – Increases performance by up to 19% for GeForce 400/500/600/700 series GPUs in several PC games vs. GeForce 320.49 WHQL-certified drivers. Results will vary depending on your GPU and system configuration.
Nvidia goes on to list two examples for gains with the GTX 770 – up to 15% in DiRT: Showdown and up to 6% in Tomb Raider. Well, we didn’t see quite the gains they suggested with the GK104-based GTX 770, however, we saw significant gains with the GK110-based GTX 780. Let’s head to the charts and compare the driver progress with the GTX 780 and the GTX 770 since we tested them last time.
Benchmarks & Conclusion
Here are our results of thirty games and 4 synthetics compared between GeForce 327.23 WHQLs and GeForce 326.19 Beta drivers, and also with 320.49 WHQL drivers using the GTX 770 and the GTX 780.
Each set of WHQL drivers is compared against the other in the first two results column and the higher performance number is in bold. If there is a tie, both results are given in bold type. The third column shows the performance of the beta 326.19 drivers.
We note some solid performance improvements with Nvidia’s new GeForce 327.23 in a few games using the GTX 770, but generally solid across-the-board performance improvements with GTX 780. Sleeping Dogs got quite a performance boost with the latest WHQLs for both the GTX 780 and the GTX 770; and to a lesser extent, Tomb Raider and Sniper Elite V2 with the GTX 780. DiRT Showdown got less increase than Nvidia indicated with our GTX 780, but DiRT 3 got an even larger increase. BioShock: Infinite saw a very small decrease in framerates that other Unreal 3 engine games did not share.
Just as last time, the biggest improvement appears to be with the GK110-based GTX 780. The minor instabilities that we reported previously with the betas are gone, and the WHQLs are rock-solid in the games that we played and benched.
So far, we would recommend upgrading to the latest GeForce 327.23 driver because there are real advantages, and no negatives that we encountered. The real surprise was the GTX 780 improvement almost across-the-board.
Stay tuned, next up is a performance analysis of the latest Radeon drivers using our brand new VisionTek HD 7970 at stock and at GHz edtion clocks which we compare to the GTX 770 results. We will also compare HD 7970 CrossFire with GTX 680 and GTX 770 SLI in an upcoming exclusive ABT evaluation.
In the meantime, join ABT’s forum for the best tech discussions anywhere and also feel free to comment on this Performance Analysis in the comments section below, or on ABT forum.