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We've tested the new driver and compared it to its predecessor, the v44.03, with respect to image quality and performance. It makes little sense to make comparisons with those unofficial driver versions that are sporadically leaked on the Internet, since these versions, which are not originally intended for public use, are often either designed to test or to enable certain things, or are meant to help a game developer solve a driver problem with a game that is in development. Frequently, these drivers, despite their higher version numbers, do not include all features of the "mother" driver.
The Quality Tests were carried out with a GeForce FX 5900 Ultra. The performance test part in this article also shows results from a GeForce FX 5600 Ultra as well as a GeForce 4 Ti 4800 (Ti 4600 with AGP 8x).
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, NVIDIA's is using a so called adaptive filtering technology for texture filtering, as does ATI. The goal of adaptive filtering is to save computing time. One feature of adaptive anisotropic filtering, for example, is that not all textures are filtered at the same filtering level, depending on the angle of the image's visual texture in relation to the viewer. The mipmap transitions are sometimes also not completely trilinearly filtered. By setting the quality control in the driver menu, the user determines how aggressively the driver performs these "adaptive" tasks.
In practice, however, this also means that the driver does not filter textures the same way in every application. For example, NVIDIA has implemented a special optimized trilinear filtering for the game Unreal Tournament 2003. Here, mipmap transitions are filtered trilinearly only in a narrow area and only detail textures get the full trilinear filtering treatment.
In order to make the filtering levels easier to picture, we used a feature in the newest Unreal Tournament 2003 Patch 2225 that lets you color the mipmaps in the console, via the command "firstcoloredmip 1". Each color represents its own mipmap. All screenshots are based on a 1024 x 768, 32-bit resolution. In order to make an optimal comparison of the images, you should use the same resolution when viewing the images.
The detailed texture on the balustrade is fully filtered, with both normal trilinear filtering as well as with 8x anisotropic filtering. The ground, however, is not completely trilinearly filtered. Only the transitions are somewhat trilinearly filtered. No difference between the driver versions v44.03 and v.45.23 are distinguishable.