As regularly featured by BabelTechReviews, this driver performance analysis charts the performance of 31 games using the GeForce WHQL 359.06 driver released on December 1. However, in a change from our usual driver performance evaluation, we are also focusing on GeForce WHQL 361.43 that was released last week on December 21, versus AMD’s latest Crimson Software version 15.12, using our four newest games: Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Just Cause 3, Rainbow Six Siege, and DiRT Rally.
For this evaluation, we are comparing the GTX 980 Ti and the GTX 980 to the Radeon Fury X, and the 290X to the GTX 970, while also looking at the bigger picture by adding 390X OC and 290X CrossFire and GTX 980 Ti to check CrossFire and SLI scaling across 31 games at 1920×1080, 2560×1440, and at 3840×2160 resolutions, our largest benching suite ever.
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 WHQL 359.06 driver since Nvidia’s last 359.00 WHQL driver set on Windows 10, as well as taking a closer look at the performance changes of GeForce WHQL 361.41 driver with our 4 new target games.
We also benchmarked all of our games using the GTX 980 with Nvidia’s latest driver, WHQL GeForce 361.43, and observed that the only game other than the four newest ones we are documenting here that had any performance changes greater than 3% (which is considered the margin of benchmarking error) was Wolfenstein: The New Blood (with about 5% improvement at 2560×1440), so our next driver performance analysis will be in 2016.
It is clear that Nvidia is focusing on VR and especially on the very latest games with their newest driver. AMD also appears to be focused on these same four games with Crimson Software 15.12 over 15.11.1, 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 GTX 970 and above, we test at higher settings and resolutions generally than we test midrange and lower-end cards at. All of our games are now tested at three resolutions and we use DX11 with a very strong emphasis on the latest games. For our next performance analysis, we will add the R9 280X which has nearly identical performance to the newly-released 380X, and we will drop 390X OC results. Let’s get right to the test configuration, to the driver release notes, and then to the results.