Finally, we wanted to compare the new drivers Nvidia has made available for the release of 3DMark Vantage - ForceWare 175.12 beta - to the older ones with the GeForce 8800 Ultra.
The differences are significant. While the GPU score is "only" 8% higher, New Calico, and especially Feature Tests 3 (the one that uses parallax mapping, and on which the Radeon cards literally collapse) and 6 (Perlin noise) were really off the chart, without any possibility of doubt as to the specific nature of the optimizations. We should remind you here that, according to the Futuremark charter that validates the drivers for 3DMark, a driver must not have been optimized specifically for the benchmarking application.
AMD made their drivers for Futuremark (Catalyst Hotfix 8.471.1) available too late for us to use them in the preceding tests, but we were able to compare them to the previous Catalyst 8.4 WHQL version with a Radeon HD 3870 X2:
This time, the gain was even more impressive, both with the overall score and especially with Feature Test 3, which again was off the charts, with the Radeon HD 3870 X2 reaching 15.93 fps and taking the lead over all the other cards, despite its earlier abysmal performance in this test! The gains for Feature Tests 4 and 5 are also much too great to be legitimate. And indeed the rendering looked slightly corrupted to us, especially with New Calico, with horizontal lines appearing.