Performance Enhancements: Beta Drivers
Before we get to the benchmarks, we need to go over beta drivers. Nvidia relies on these much more than AMD, though rushed launches and new games have seen AMD spend more time patching its drivers in between final releases, too. Since the GeForce GTX 480's introduction, eleven drivers have been posted, four of which are beta releases. But as the company states, "beta drivers are provided by Nvidia as preview releases for quick bug fixes and access to new features. Beta drivers are under qualification testing, and may include significant issues."
|GeForce/Ion Driver 266.58||WHQL||1/18/11|
|GeForce/Ion Driver 266.35||Beta||1/4/11|
|GeForce/Ion Driver 260.99||WHQL||10/25/10|
|GeForce/Ion Driver 260.89||WHQL||10/18/10|
|GeForce/Ion Driver 258.96||WHQL||7/29/10|
|GeForce/Ion Driver 258.69||Beta||6/29/10|
|GeForce/Ion Driver 257.21||WHQL||6/15/10|
|GeForce/Ion Driver 257.15||Beta||5/24/10|
|GeForce Driver 197.75||WHQL||5/10/10|
|GeForce Driver 197.75||Beta||5/3/10|
|GeForce Driver 197.41||WHQL||4/9/10|
The performance enhancements seen in a beta are rolled into the next qualified driver. As a result, betas don't count toward the total performance you would see over the life of a graphics card.
For the purposes of our testing, we are selecting qualified drivers to remain consistent with our earlier look at AMD's driver performance.