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Summary Of Performance Differences

Do New Drivers Really Boost Performance?
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The summary shows all the performance differences sorted by benchmark and percentage. The following table shows the effect of an update of the graphics driver. Orange indicates values within the measurement tolerance, green is a gain of 3.1 percent or more, and red is a loss of more than 3 percent.

The GeForce 9600 GT gains the most from driver optimizations. The GTX 280 and CrossFire HD 4870 may lose a little performance, and with the HD 4870 running alone, only Crysis in High image quality mode gains from the new driver.

The next table shows the potential of the test cards when the CPU clock rate is increased. Orange indicates values within the measurement tolerance, green is a gain of at least 3.1 percent, and red is a loss of more than 3 percent.

The GeForce 9600 GT benefited only slightly from the CPU clock speed increase; the GTX 280 and HD 4870 made good gains in some of the games. In CrossFire, the CPU performance was gobbled up as the paired HD 4870s could handle even more CPU power. In Mass Effect and Call of Duty 4 there was hardly any performance increase.

The effects on overall performance are more sobering. The driver optimizations make a difference of just 0.7 percent to 2.9 percent in frame rates. The additional CPU clocking results in a 9.2 percent improvement in CrossFire mode.

For each test card there is a comparison value as measured with an old driver. This overall result represents 100 percent. The performance gain due to the driver update is specified as a percentage—for the GeForce GTX 280 this is 1.8 percent additional power. When the test is carried out with the overclocked CPU at 3.47 GHz (+532 MHz), the frame rate for the GTX 280 increases another 6.7 percent.

Overall performance fps Percent
GeForce GTX 280 (1024 MB) 177.39 3765.6 100.0
GeForce GTX 280 (1024 MB) 177.92 3832.5 +1.8
GeForce GTX 280 (1024 MB) 177.92 CPU3.47 4090.6 +6.7
GeForce 9600 GT (1024 MB) 175.16 2451.8 100.0
GeForce 9600 GT (1024 MB) 177.92 2523.5 +2.9
GeForce 9600 GT (1024 MB) 177.92 CPU3.47 2618.1 +3.7
Radeon HD 4870 CF (512 MB) 8.6 3482.9 100.0
Radeon HD 4870 CF (512 MB) 8.8 3515.6 +0.9
Radeon HD 4870 CF (512 MB) 8.8 CPU3.47 3839.7 +9.2
Radeon HD 4870 (512 MB) 8.6 3355.7 100.0
Radeon HD 4870 (512 MB) 8.8 3378.3 +0.7
Radeon HD 4870 (512 MB) 8.8 CPU3.47 3615.5 +7.0

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