TCTD_1601_web_screenshot_grand_central_1457460108Today’s driver performance analysis charts the performance of 27 games using the GTX 980 Ti with the latest GeForce WHQL driver 364.51, and we are also focusing on the competing Fury X and AMD’s Crimson Software version 16.3.

We are also testing the GTX 980 and the GTX 970 versus the R9 290X and the R9 280X with the latest drivers from both AMD and Nvidia using our newest 2016 games: Rise of the Tomb Raider, Far Cry Primal, and Tom’s Clancy’s The Division.

DyingLightGame 2016-01-10 21-11-58-94We are also going to look closely at ARMA III and its new expansion which received HBAO+ in a major patch, and at Dying Light and its expansion that got PCSS to improve the shadows. With a couple of important patches, Rise of the Tomb Raider got DX12 and also added VXAO, a new kind of ambient occlusion that promises greater visual fidelity than HBAO+.  And The Division got a new kind of hybrid shadowing, Nvidia’s HTFS, that is supposed to be more accurate than PCSS.  We will also chart the performance changes of the soon-to-be-released DX12 game Ashes of the Singularity that received major upgrades to its visuals.

AotS-6For this evaluation, we are comparing the GTX 980 Ti and the GTX 980 to the Radeon Fury X, and the 290X and the 280X to the GTX 970.   We will compare the performance of the very latest PC games at 1920×1080, 2560×1440, and at 3840×2160 resolutions for our completely revamped new benching suite.

BTR’s The Big Picture, once reserved for video card reviews is now included in every driver performance analysis. We want to document the performance changes of the GeForce WHQL 364.51 driver since we tested Nvidia’s 359.00 WHQL driver set on Windows 10, as well as taking a closer look at the performance changes of this latest driver with our newest target games.  In like manner, we will chart the performance changes of the Crimson Software driver 16.3 since 15.12.

We have benchmarked our entire 27 game benchmark suite using the GTX 980 Ti with Nvidia’s latest driver and have benched the Fury X with AMD’s latest Crimson Driver suite. This comparison is completely up to date at the time of publication including the testing of all games with their very latest patches.patches

Benchmarking has proved to be somewhat problematic recently when many major patches were often released one after the other, sometimes altering the performance picture from one patch to the next.  This has happened regularly with Ashes of the Singularity, and right after benching 6 video cards last weekend with the first Rise of the Tomb Raider DX12 patch, a second 666 MB patch was released the following day which required us to start benching it all over again.

It is clear that Nvidia is focusing on VR and especially on the very latest games including DX12 games with their newest driver GeForce 364.51.  AMD also appears to be focused on these same games with Crimson Software 16.3, so this will be an interesting evaluation.

Our testing platform is Windows 10 Home 64-bit, using an Intel Core i7-4790K at 4.00GHz which turbos to 4.4GHz for all cores, an ASUS Z97E motherboard, and 16GB of Kingston “Beast” HyperX DDR3 at 2133MHz. The settings and hardware are identical except for the drivers being tested.

At R9 280X or at GTX 970 performance level and above, we test at higher settings and resolutions generally than we test midrange and lower-end cards.  All of our games are now tested at three resolutions, and we use DX11 or DX12 when available with a very strong emphasis on the latest demanding 2015-2016 PC games.

Let’s get right to the test configuration, to the driver release notes, and then to the results.