Intro

Today’s GeForce 368.39 driver performance analysis charts the performance of 26 games focusing on the GTX 1080 and the GTX 1070 compared with their launch drivers.  We also chart the performance changes of the GTX 980 Ti from the last WHQL driver, GeForce 368.22.  We will compare Nvidia’s top 3 cards with AMD’s current flagship performance, the Fury X, on recent Crimson Software drivers to see if performance or if ranking has changed.

MirrorsEdgeCatalyst 2016-04-24 11-53-25-22We are also featuring our newest 2016 games, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst and DOOM, and we are also including Ashes of the Singularity, Hitman, and Rise of the Tomb Raider using DX12.  We will compare the performance of 26 modern games at 1920×1080, 2560×1440, and at 3840×2160 resolutions with maximum settings.

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 as set in the motherboard’s BIOS, 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.

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 our most recent drivers since we last tested them on Windows 10.

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 use average and minimum fame rates to test performance at 3 resolutions when the results make sense (generally above 25 fps average), and we use DX11 or DX12 when available and with a very strong emphasis on the latest demanding 2015-2016 AAA games.

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


Test Configuration – Hardware

  • Intel Core i7-4790K (reference 4.0GHz, HyperThreading and Turbo boost is on to 4.4GHz; DX11 CPU graphics), supplied by Intel.
  • ASUS Z97-E motherboard (Intel Z97 chipset, latest BIOS, PCIe 3.0 specification, CrossFire/SLI 8x+8x)
  • Kingston 16 GB HyperX Beast DDR3 RAM (2×8 GB, dual-channel at 2133MHz, supplied by Kingston)
  • GTX 1080, 8GB, Founder’s Edition, reference clocks supplied by Nvidia
  • GTX 1070, 8GB Founder’s Edition, reference clocks, supplied by Nvidia
  • GeForce GTX 980 Ti, 6GB in SLI and also tested as single GPU, reference clocks, supplied by Nvidia
  • EVGA GTX 980 Ti SC, 6GB in SLI and also tested as single GPU, at reference reference clocks, supplied by EVGA
  • 2 x GeForce GTX 980, 4GB, reference clocks, in SLI and also tested as single GPU, supplied by Nvidia
  • GALAX GTX 970 EXOC 4GB, GALAX factory overclock, supplied by GALAX
  • PowerColor R9 Fury X 4GB, at reference clocks.
  • VisionTek R9 290X 4GB, reference clocks, in CrossFire and also tested as single GPU; fan set to 100% to prevent throttling.
  • PowerColor R9 290X, 4GB, reference clocks, in CrossFire; fan set to 100% to prevent throttling.
  • PowerColor R9 280X, 3GB, reference clocks, supplied by PowerColor.
  • Two 2TB Toshiba 7200 rpm HDDs
  • EVGA 1000G 1000W power supply unit
  • Cooler Master 2.0 Seidon, supplied by Cooler Master
  • Onboard Realtek Audio
  • Genius SP-D150 speakers, supplied by Genius
  • Thermaltake Overseer RX-I full tower case, supplied by Thermaltake
  • ASUS 12X Blu-ray writer
  • Monoprice Crystal Pro 4K

Test Configuration – Software

  • Nvidia’s GeForce 368.39 and 368.22 WHQL drivers were used to benchmark the GTX 980 Ti.  The GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 were benchmarked with 368.39 and compared with their launch drivers (GeForce 368.13 and 368.19).  High Quality, prefer maximum performance, single display.  Nvidia divers used in the Big Picture are noted on the chart.
  • The AMD Crimson Software 16.5.3 beta hotfix drivers were used for benching the Fury X.  All other AMD drivers are noted on the Big Picture.
  • VSync is off in the control panel.
  • AA enabled as noted in games; all in-game settings are specified with 16xAF always applied
  • All results show average frame rates including minimum frame rates shown in italics on the chart next to the averages in smaller font.
  • Highest quality sound (stereo) used in all games.
  • Windows 10 64-bit Home edition, all DX11 titles were run under DX11 render paths. Our only DX12 title is run under the DX12 render path. Latest DirectX
  • All games are patched to their latest versions at time of publication.
  • EVGA’s Precision XOC, reviewer’s version 4 used for Nvidia cards.

The 26 PC Game benchmark suite & 1 synthetic test

  • Synthetic
  • Firestrike – Basic & Extreme
  • DX11* Games
  • Crysis 3
  • Metro: Last Light Redux (2014)
  • GRID: Autosport
  • Middle Earth: Shadows of Mordor
  • Alien Isolation
  • Dragon’s Age: Inquisition
  • Dying Light
  • Total War: Attila
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • ProjectCARS
  • the Witcher 3
  • Batman: Arkham Origins
  • Mad Max
  • Fallout 4
  • Star Wars Battlefront
  • Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
  • Just Cause 3
  • Rainbow Six Siege
  • DiRT Rally
  • Far Cry Primal
  • Tom Clancy’s The Division 
  • DOOM (*OpenGL)
  • Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
  • DX12 Games
  • Ashes of the Singularity
  • Hitman
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider 

Nvidia’s Control Panel settings:NvCP1NvCP2

Release Notes Highlights for GeForce 368.39

The release highlights for GeForce 368.39 can be found here together with a download link for Windows 10 64-bit. Below is a short list highlighting the fact that Nvidia’s WHQL driver release schedule is tied to the release of AAA games.

Prior to a new title launching, our driver team is working up until the last minute to ensure every performance tweak and bug fix possible makes it into the Game Ready driver. As a result, you can be sure you’ll have the best day-1 gaming experience for your favorite new titles.

Game Ready
Learn more about how to get the optimal experience for Mirror’s Edge Catalyst and Edge of Nowhere

Gaming Technology
Supports the new GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card which delivers the incredible speed and power of NVIDIA Pascal™—the most advanced GPU ever created. This is the ultimate gaming platform.

Virtual Reality
Supports the new GeForce GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 VRWorks features including Lens Matched Shading and Single Pass Stereo

For the comprehensive release notes, you will need to download the .pdf  

Let’s head to our results charts and then to our conclusion.

Benchmarks & Performance Analysis

GeForce 368.39  vs. the GTX 1080/1070’s launch drivers and vs. GeForce 368.22

Here are our results of 26 games and 1 synthetic test.  The drivers are noted on the chart.  “X” means the benchmark was not run and “NA” means the benchmark could not be run or completed. And an Asterisk (*) means that there are some real issues with the visuals.

All results except for Firestrike are expressed in average fps (in Bold) and also generally in minimum fps (where they make sense, in smaller italics next to the averages).  Each set of drivers are compared against the other in the adjoining results column in white (newest driver) versus black (older drivers).

Main-chart-1

We can see many performance gains for our 3 test cards with the newest drivers in many games.  It appears that Nvidia’s driver team is hard at work tuning the performance of the GTX 1080 and the GTX 1070 as befits brand new architecture, with generally positive performance increases.  The negatives are usually quite small and do not practically affect playability.  The only real outlier we noted is with Shadows of Mordor which shows a significant decrease in performance for the GTX 1080, and we suspect that default Ultra was originally used instead of our current maximum settings.

The GTX 1070 was released later than the GTX 1080 and shows less change although it still gains decent performance with the latest games.  Its only outlier is Fallout 4 which showed a small performance decrease although it should not affect playability.  And the GTX 980 Ti has not been neglected as the new driver generally shows incremental performance increases as befits older architecture.

This GeForce 368.39 driver is very stable, and in our opinion, a very worthwhile upgrade.  We saw only a few cases with slight decreases that did not affect these few games’ playability.  We are quite impressed with GeForce 368.39 just as we were with with GeForce 368.22 last month.

Finally, let’s check out our bigger picture next.

The Big Picture

The Big Picture, once reserved solely for our video card reviews, has been recently expanded to feature all of our competing top video cards on recent drivers.  Driver revisions for each card are noted on the chart.  An “X” means the benchmark was not run, while “NA” means the benchmark could not be run or completed. And an Asterisk (*) means that there are some real issues with the visuals.  All results except for Firestrike are expressed in average fps (in Bold) and also generally in minimum fps (where they make sense, in smaller italics next to the average results).

big-picture

Let’s head to our conclusion.

Conclusion:

We would recommend upgrading to the latest WHQL GeForce 368.39 drivers as they have brought some performance improvements to many of our tested games, especially to the latest ones.  Overall, there are generally incremental advantages over older drivers, but with also some rather large performance increases, particularly for the GTX 1080 since its launch drivers.  We always recommend using Nvidia’s latest WHQL driver for Windows 10.

MirrorsEdgeCatalyst 2016-04-24 11-52-36-55GeForce WHQL 368.39 is generally the best driver to use for the latest really fun games that we are playing, including Rise of the Tomb Raider, Far Cry Primal, Hitman, Tom’s Clancy’s The Division, DOOM, and Mirror’s Edge Catalyst.

It appears that both Nvidia and AMD intend to release new drivers with each new major PC game release, and we are looking forward to our next evaluation.  AMD has released their own June Crimson Software driver, but it is another Beta Hotfix non-WHQL driver which gives real issues for users with Blu-Ray and other DRM programs.  It has been over 2 months since AMD has released a WHQL driver, but we will also chart AMD’s latest driver performance next week.

In the meantime, join BTR’s Community for great tech discussions and also feel free to comment on this Performance Analysis in the comments section below.

Happy gaming!

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