New Features In GeForce 185
As you flip through the benchmarks, you’ll notice that, in some cases, the GeForce GTX 275 comes pretty darn close to the GTX 285. This is partially due to a new driver used to test the GTX 275—Nvidia’s GeForce release 185. Nvidia says it improved the performance of its anti-aliasing compression, z-culling efficiency, and SLI scaling performance in certain game engines.
We tested currently-available cards using Nvidia’s latest GeForce 182 driver, but were forced to test the GeForce GTX 275 using the 185 build (similar to how we tested ATI’s Radeon HD 4890 with a beta build, but benchmarked the other boards using Catalyst 9.3). In order to give you a better idea of what GeForce 185 delivers on its own, we tested the GeForce GTX 285 at a couple of different settings across the entire benchmark suite using just the 185 driver.
There are a few notable performance deltas, but the changes aren’t massive in any one title, or even consistent, for that matter, from 1680x1050 to 2560x1600.
The new driver also adds support for ambient occlusion in games that don’t already include a control panel check-box for it. Ambient occlusion approximates the way light radiates in real life, thus adding shadows and shading in areas where they should be, but aren’t seen when the capability is lacking. There’s a fairly substantial performance hit when you turn on AO in Nvidia’s driver, so you'll need to decide for yourself if the compromise is worthwhile.
In a game like World in Conflict at 1920x1200 on a GeForce GTX 285, you have performance to spare. Turning AO on drops you to an average of 45 frames per second, but makes a noticeable difference in how the environment looks, as blades of grass occlude light and become much more distinct when you zoom in to the battlefield.