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Tested: Nvidia's Performance-Boosting GeForce 337.50 Driver

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 37 comments

Such driver, much FPS, so speed! Nvidia posts its new GeForce 337.50 Beta drivers - and we put them to the test!

Nvidia has posted a new driver - the GeForce 337.50 Beta driver. Normally we wouldn't give driver releases all that much attention, though this one is a little different.

Nvidia claimed that this driver will bring some very big performance improvements in a whole number of games. Some games will experience performance improvements of up to 64 percent on single GPUs, while SLI performance can be boosted by as much as 71 percent. The optimizations have been done through optimizations with DirectX, specifically reducing CPU overhead in certain games.

With such claims though, we wanted to have a crack at the numbers ourselves to see what the real-life effects are, so we cleaned our system, installed the drivers, and started the benchmarks. We weren't running the exact same hardware platform as Nvidia was running, but this would only serve to make things a little more interesting.

Test Platform:

Test Hardware
ProcessorIntel Core i7-4770K @ Stock Clocks
MotherboardAsus Maximus VI Impact
Graphics
Reference Nvidia GTX 780 Ti 3GB
Memory
Corsair Vengeance Pro 16 GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1866, 1.5 V
System Drive
Samsung 830 256 GB SATA3 (6Gb/s)
Operating System
Windows 8.1 Pro x64

The biggest difference between our test system and Nvidia's test system is the CPU. Nvidia is running a monstrously powerful Intel Core i7-3960X while we're 'only' running an Intel Core i7-4770K. Of course, the i7-4770K is still a very power processor, and it is also something that you're a lot more likely to encounter in a gaming system than an i7-3960X.

1080p Performance:

We actually got some very interesting results for our 1080p performance tests. Tomb Raider and Battlefield 4's performance went up with similar amounts to Nvidia's claims. Unigine's Heaven Benchmark actually ran an average of 0.2 FPS lower over three test runs, though that falls within a margin of error.

The biggest surprise was Star Swarm, as we got a very big performance jump (almost 60 percent) -- much higher than Nvidia's claim of "up to 21 percent". Because I wasn't sure that this was correct, I actually reverted back to the old driver and re-ran the Star Swarm tests another three times. This changed nothing... The Nvidia GeForce 337.50 Beta driver really gives Star Swarm a significant boost! Without more testing, we wouldn't be able to say exactly why we got a much bigger performance jump than Nvidia advertised, though one possibility is that that it was because we had a less powerful CPU installed, and the reduced CPU overhead thus made an even bigger impact. In the past, folks have referred to Star Swarm as "An AMD marketing tool" -- that's probably over now.

1440p Performance:

1440p performance followed the same trends as the 1080p performance, giving both Tomb Raider and Battlefield 4 a nice little performance boost. Unigine's Heaven benchmark again ran just the way it did before, which is interesting in, well, how uninteresting it is.

Unfortunately, we didn't have another GTX 780 Ti at our immediate disposal, so it was a bit difficult to run SLI benchmarks. That said, we'd imagine that the performance gains would, like Nvidia claims, be even higher than on single-card configurations, as you're more likely to run into CPU bottlenecks when running more graphics cards.

All in all this is one of the most impressive driver releases we've seen in a long time. Nvidia's point to all this is to show that you don't need a new API and developer support in order to be able to get performance gains, but that time well spent optimizing drivers can make a big difference too. That said, competition from AMD's Mantle API likely pushed Nvidia to develop these optimizations. In the end, it's the gamers who win.

You can find the drivers available for download here on Nvidia's website, where you'll also find the complete release highlights.

Add your comment Display 37 Comments.
Top Comments
  • 20 Hide
    coupe , April 7, 2014 6:23 AM
    Nvidia's revolutionary marketing driver. Guaranteed 150% better marketing to combat AMD Mantle hype.
Other Comments
  • 2 Hide
    Arkive , April 7, 2014 5:56 AM
    Was doge really a necessary way to start the article?
  • 2 Hide
    bucknutty , April 7, 2014 6:02 AM
    Does this fix the SLI Profile in TitanFall?
  • 2 Hide
    Zepid , April 7, 2014 6:09 AM
    Quote:
    Does this fix the SLI Profile in TitanFall?
    This is what I wanna know. TitanFall only uses one of my two 570s in SLi.
  • 9 Hide
    ykki , April 7, 2014 6:16 AM
    "4770k is still a very power processor"umm... what?
    toms needs proofreading.
  • -5 Hide
    Zeroplanetz , April 7, 2014 6:17 AM
    There site says OS 32bits. I'm new to all of this so if I have 8.1 64bit I shouldn't do this beta drive?
  • -1 Hide
    mauller07 , April 7, 2014 6:21 AM
    time to wait for these to drop and actual performance analysis to roll in since people know nvidia have fixed the AMD performance results, considering the highest settings in Thief using Mantle at 1080p, a stock 290 (not even the x) gets 68 fps avg on beta 14.3.i dont mind them bigging up performance improvements, but the outright lying is such a joke.
  • 20 Hide
    coupe , April 7, 2014 6:23 AM
    Nvidia's revolutionary marketing driver. Guaranteed 150% better marketing to combat AMD Mantle hype.
  • 8 Hide
    spazoid , April 7, 2014 6:24 AM
    Quote:
    Was doge really a necessary way to start the article?
    Maybe not necessary, but very much appreciated.
  • 0 Hide
    clonazepam , April 7, 2014 6:34 AM
    Quote:
    Was doge really a necessary way to start the article?
    I'm gonna say yeah cuz I learned something new! =)
  • 7 Hide
    CaptainTom , April 7, 2014 7:19 AM
    Am I the only one who finds Nvidia's marketing slides hilarious? They make it look like they are massively beating AMD when really all they are showing is that with their "Wonder Drivers" their $700 card beats AMD's $560 card by 12%. Wow what a victory Nvidia! /s
  • 5 Hide
    326power , April 7, 2014 7:20 AM
    It would be very interesting to test this drivers with a slower CPU (smth like FX-6300) and different GPUs. It should be very interesting cuz the main point of 337.50 is a reduced CPU overhead, so results should be even more impressive on a system with less powerful CPU.
  • 0 Hide
    anthony8989 , April 7, 2014 7:23 AM
    This driver is lackluster. Regular driver updates do these things - excluding Starswarm. But who cares about Starswarm?
  • 2 Hide
    ykki , April 7, 2014 7:36 AM
    maybe nvdia needs to the test with a celeron proccy to get real results against mantle.
  • 3 Hide
    jasonelmore , April 7, 2014 7:48 AM
    Quote:
    Nvidia's revolutionary marketing driver. Guaranteed 150% better marketing to combat AMD Mantle hype.


    Nvidia has no reason to respond to Mantle given the recent developments of DirectX 12. Microsoft is gonna do the Mantle bashing for them.
  • 0 Hide
    rwinches , April 7, 2014 7:56 AM
    And on my 750 Ti?
  • 2 Hide
    lukeeu , April 7, 2014 8:57 AM
    Sorry but choise of benchmarks is misguided. Nvidia claims reduced overhead and SLI improvements. You should test the mantle style driver overhead claim on a SLOOW CPU (i3@2Ghz) and a powerfull GPU. For SLI improvements you should try your i7 with 2 mid range cards.
  • 0 Hide
    BulkZerker , April 7, 2014 11:09 AM
    Gotta agree with arkive, the meme is getting overused.

    As for this driver, the star swarm improvements are suspect IMHO. That much of a boost sounds like something isn't being rendered.
  • 0 Hide
    sjc1017 , April 7, 2014 11:47 AM
    So will this drive make any difference to my ageing gt525m core i3 laptop?
  • 0 Hide
    toddybody , April 7, 2014 11:57 AM
    I love new drivers...it's that feeling of buying something new, but for free.
  • -1 Hide
    BranFlake5 , April 7, 2014 2:25 PM
    Quote:
    Was doge really a necessary way to start the article?


    Much Yes, Such Necessary, So needed
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