GeForce WHQL 331.58 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 significant for the latest games and especially for 4K resolution, using the latest game-ready drivers released this morning. ABT was able to get a preview of these drivers, and as part of a regular feature for AlienBabelTech, this evaluation is comparing the performance of 34 benchmarks with the GeForce WHQL 331.58 driver release versus the last GeForce WHQL 327.34 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 the VisionTek HD 7970 at reference speeds using the latest WHQL Catalyst 13.9.This driver performance evaluation will give a natural comparison between the performance improvements since Nvidia’s last driver set when we tested the GeForce 327 family of divers. Later this week, when we evaluate our VisionTek R9 280X, we can again compare the Radeon HD 7970 and HD 7970 at GHz Edition speeds to see how the performance has improved with the latest beta drivers over the WHQL 13.9 Catalyst drivers.
We are going to test GeForce 331.58 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 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 with Power target and temperature slider set to maximim, supplied by Nvidia
- EVGA GTX 780 (3GB, reference clocks) with Power target and temperature slider set to maximim, on loan from EVGA
- Onboard Realtek Audio
- VisionTek Radeon HD 7970 reference clocks, PowerTune+20%
- Genius SP-D150 speakers, 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 and WHQL 331.58; High Quality; Single-display Performance mode; Prefer Maximum Performance
- AMD Catalyst 13.9 WHQL; all optimizations off in Control Panel; use application settings; high quality
- 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 331.58 WHQL driver before we head to performance testing.
Release Notes Highlights for GeForce 331.58
Please see the GeForce 331.58 Release Highlights
This Game Ready WHQL driver ensures you’ll have the best possible gaming experience in Batman: Arkham Origins and Battlefield 4. GeForce Game Ready drivers also provide performance increases for a variety of different games.
New in GeForce R331 Drivers
- Performance Boost – Increases performance by up to 13% for GeForce 400/500/600/700 series GPUs in several PC games vs. GeForce 327.23 WHQL-certified drivers. Results will vary depending on your GPU and system configuration. Here is one example of measured gains:
GeForce GTX 770/780/TITAN:
- Up to 11% in Dirt: Showdown
- Up to 9% in Metro: Last Light
- Up to 8% in Sleeping Dogs
- Up to 13% in Sniper Elite V2
- SLI Technology
- Batman: Arkham Origins – updated profile
- Battlefield 4 – updated profile
- Shadow Warrior – added DX9 profile
- War of the Vikings – added DX11 profile
- Dragon Sword – updated DX9 profile
- GRID 2 – updated DX11 profile
- Euro Truck Simulator 2 – updated profile
- Gaming Technology
- Civilization 5 – added HBAO+;
- Enables GeForce to SHIELD streaming (Beta). Learn more here.
- 4K Displays
- Adds support for 4K Surround
- Installs new PhysX System Software 9.13.0725.
- Installs HD Audio v220.127.116.11
- Installs GeForce Experience 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.
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 & Performance Analysus
Here are our results of thirty games and 4 synthetics compared between GeForce 331.58 WHQL and GeForce 327.23 WHQL drivers using the GTX 770 and the GTX 780. For reference, Catalyst 13.9 WHQL results are provided for the reference HD 7970 as we will be benching it and the new R9 280X this week with the latest beta drivers.
We note some solid performance improvements with Nvidia’s new GeForce 331.58 over 327.23 in a few games. The last WHQLs particularly benefited the GTX 780 and this time, the GTX 770 is also seeing some good performance gains. We saw the performance gains for the GTX 770 as Nvidia suggested but it was a bit more mixed for the GTX 780.
We did not see the up to 8% performance boost in Sleeping Dogs that Nvidia got with the latest WHQLs although we did see them in the other 3 noted games. We saw Sniper Elite V2 performance increase with the GTX 770 while Metro: Last Light saw improvement with the GTX 780. DiRT Showdown and DiRT 3 shared across-the-board performance improvements. BioShock: Infinite saw an increase in framerates that Aliens: Colonial Marines, another Unreal 3 engine game, also got. Even an older title like Crysis saw a fair increase on the GTX 780. GRiD 2 and Tomb Raider 2013 continue to see improvements with the latest GeForce drivers.
The negatives include Serious Sam 3 and the Witcher, both DX9 games. Unlike last time, the biggest improvement appears to be with the GK104-based GTX 770 although the GTX 780 also got some solid gains.
Stay tuned, next up is an evaluation of a non-mechanical keyboard by Genius that is aimed at gamers. We will also bring you the latest Catalyst performance improvements with the new betas using a VisionTek R9 280X which we will fully examine for our readers this week.
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.