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Nvidia Takes a Shot at AMD's 'Sub-Par Beta Drivers' for GPUs

Nvidia released a new video today alongside its latest 512.59 drivers, detailing how the company goes about creating its Game Ready Drivers for GeForce graphics cards. Nvidia explains the entire process of driver creation from beginning to end, noting how each driver is extensively tested to ensure a stable and high-quality product. While doing so, Nvidia wastes no time in taking a few jabs at AMD for creating "sub-par" beta drivers and prides itself on not indulging in the practice.

Nvidia starts with the functionality of a GPU driver. GPU drivers are the lifeblood of the graphics engine, allowing it to communicate directly to the OS, graphics APIs, and games themselves. Without it, the GPU would not be able to function at all.

But the process goes deeper than that, Nvidia explains, as there are two different modes drivers need to access within Windows: User mode and Kernel mode. User mode communicates directly with the game and OS, while kernel mode communicates to the GPU directly and has full access to system resources.

GPU drivers are created with this in mind, with optimizations for both modes. Nvidia explains that driver development is critical to have a smooth gaming experience. Driver optimization is crucial to ensuring system latency is low and that frame rates don't fluctuate wildly, which also helps ensure games don't crash.

Nvidia's Game Ready Driver strategy started around 2014 as a faster and more optimized way to creating and releasing high-quality drivers for gamers. Before Nvidia created Game Ready drivers, Nvidia couldn't produce day-0 drivers due to its limited interaction with game development teams.

With Nvidia's Game Ready Driver strategy, Nvidia developers are in constant communication with game devs throughout the entire development process. Specifically, completed development builds of future games are run through the Nvidia driver team once the development build passes the game company's own QA team.

Once that phase is completed, Nvidia's own driver and QA teams take over the development build and optimize their drivers for the game itself, improving performance and stability. Once accomplished, that driver build gets handed over to the game development team for future use and the cycle begins all over again.

This means Nvidia begins optimizing its own graphics drivers for future titles way before a game even launches. When launch day finally arrives, driver stability and optimization have hopefully already reached maturity.

But driver development doesn't stop there. Even after a game launches, Nvidia continues to interact with game developers to further optimize the game if necessary. This is particularly important if the game developers are working on future updates and future DLC content that alters the game's programming.

Stability Testing and a Quick Jab at AMD

Nvidia's testing methodology for its Game Ready drivers sounds incredibly extensive. It involves over 4,500 system configurations with hardware dating back as far as 2012 (i.e. Intel Sandy Bridge days). In a single day, Nvidia says its Game Ready drivers are involved in over 1,000 different tests across a wide variety of upcoming and already launched titles. For context, Nvidia did over 1.8 million hours of testing in 2021 alone.

Finally, once the Game Ready driver is polished by Nvidia, it gets sent over to Microsoft for Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL) testing purposes. This test includes over 1300 tests, covering as much of the driver's functionality as possible. Testing is done with Microsoft's own Windows Hardware Lab Kit (HLK). Once completed, the driver gets a WHQL certification, verifying that the driver is ready and fully operational.

Nvidia really prides itself on its in-depth testing procedures, noting that it does not release "sub-par" beta drivers with minimal testing. It's a quick jab at AMD for creating beta drivers, which the company has been doing for years now.

In reality, Nvidia's bantering doesn't really hold up. Nvidia has created beta drivers in the past, and occasionally has to release "hotfix" drivers to address specific issues. AMD has certified Radeon Adrenalin graphics drivers ready for use as well, just like Nvidia, though it doesn't submit every driver release to the WHQL process. Practically speaking, that probably doesn't matter much, as WHQL testing focuses on core Windows functionality rather than on gaming performance and thus doesn't change much over time. AMD typically releases beta drivers for those playing a major new game, who may want to try additional features or bug fixes ahead of schedule.

Game Ready Driver 512.59

Not coincidentally, Nvidia also released a new Game Ready driver alongside its driver creation video and article. The new driver is version 512.59 and includes support for new games, G-Sync compatible displays, and bug fixes as usual.

As far as the games go, this is a Game Ready driver for Dune: Spice Wars, a just-released real-time strategy game based on the Dune novels by Frank Herbert. The driver updates also target Chernobylite's ray tracing Upgrade, JX3 Online's DLSS update, and Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodhunt's early access launch.

Three additional G-Sync Compatible monitors have been added as well: the Asus ROG XG259CM 25-inch IPS 1080p 240Hz monitor, Galaxy VI-01 27-inch IPS 1440p 165Hz display, and the Samsung G95NA 49-inch VA 240Hz doublewide 5120x1440 gaming panel.

The 512.59 drivers also have several bug fixes:

  • [RTX 3050] Driver may randomly timeout and recover while using Google Chrome
  • [MSI GT83VR 6RF/GT83VR 7RF/GT83 Titan 8RG] Internal notebook monitor displays black screen after driver update.
  • Event ID 14 error when logging into Windows if Digital Vibrance setting is adjusted
  • [Vulkan]: Derivative TouchDesigner may crash processing OpenColorIO work
  • [Vulkan]: Enscape may not render correctly
  • IntelliCAD may experience instability issues
  • [Siemens Teamcenter / Siemens Tecnomatix]: resolves rendering issues when using older versions of GLSL
  • [Adobe Premiere Pro]: DirectX related crashes with recent drivers.
Aaron Klotz
Aaron Klotz

Aaron Klotz is a freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US, covering news topics related to computer hardware such as CPUs, and graphics cards.

  • -Fran-
    I mean... If they barely give any actual functionality to the drivers and separate some of the actual interesting things on that garbage that GFE is, then it's not surprising.

    Using AMD, now at least, you don't really need 3rd party applications for monitoring, tweaking and configuring like nVidia does, so this is very disingenuous to state and kind of funny as it points out their lack of spine.

    As a general thing, I see as many issues with nVidia drivers as I see with AMD, while they're way way less "feature rich" than them, so...

    Regards.
    Reply
  • blppt
    Meh, AMDs drivers are light years better than they used to be. Maybe not quite to Nvidia's level, but they've made big progress.

    AMDs main problem is having to individually optimize DX11 and earlier games because they've never been able to match Nvidia's superb DX11 optimization globally.
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    Honestly having beta drivers to begin with is just asking for trouble from people who don't know any better. Especially when people are conditioned to think that the latest driver version is always the bestest version.

    blppt said:
    AMDs main problem is having to individually optimize DX11 and earlier games because they've never been able to match Nvidia's superb DX11 optimization globally.
    They could do that by implementing driver wide support for DX11 deferred contexts. But for some reason they never did.
    Reply
  • setx
    hotaru.hino said:
    Honestly having beta drivers to begin with is just asking for trouble from people who don't know any better.
    If you think that "Game Ready", "WHQL" or something drivers are better in general than "beta" – you are mistaken. Sure, they likely test it more with games that I'm never going to play but that's completely useless (to me).
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    setx said:
    If you think that "Game Ready", "WHQL" or something drivers are better in general than "beta" – you are mistaken. Sure, they likely test it more with games that I'm never going to play but that's completely useless (to me).
    WHQL is a formal qualification test from Microsoft that every driver must go through, regardless of what it's for.

    I think that makes them objectively better than beta drivers.
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    I have to say that with my 15 years with AMD I did have numerous driver issues over the years which required rolling back to the previous month's release, and sometimes couldn't use newer drivers for months on end because they would introduce some game breaking or system breaking issue, I have not experienced this yet with my two years of using an nVidia card.
    Reply
  • King_V
    In 25 years, I haven't had problems with ATI/AMD drivers. The vast majority of my cards have been ATI/AMD.

    I've had only a few Nvidia cards, and I have had issues with their drivers in the past, but not a lot. One that was unsolvable, though. This one particular EVGA Nvidia card did NOT want to work on this one system that had a motherboard with an Nvidia chipset. Ironically, an ATI card worked in it just fine.

    Still, my thought is that maybe Nvidia felt the need to try and reinvigorate that dying group that insists that "Oh, AMD drivers are unreliable" because of some issue from years ago, that they might not have ever personally experienced, but only read about. Gotta get them to start making those claims again online whenever someone asks "should I choose this Nvidia card, or that AMD card?"
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    King_V said:
    Still, my thought is that maybe Nvidia felt the need to try and reinvigorate that dying group that insists that "Oh, AMD drivers are unreliable" because of some issue from years ago, that they might not have ever personally experienced, but only read about. Gotta get them to start making those claims again online whenever someone asks "should I choose this Nvidia card, or that AMD card?"
    I mean, AMD RTG's marketing group doesn't have their hands clean either.

    But I don't condone NVIDIA stooping to their level.
    Reply
  • magbarn
    blppt said:
    Meh, AMDs drivers are light years better than they used to be. Maybe not quite to Nvidia's level, but they've made big progress.

    AMDs main problem is having to individually optimize DX11 and earlier games because they've never been able to match Nvidia's superb DX11 optimization globally.
    It’s why I’m returning my 6700xt and keeping 3060ti. Although the 6700xt should be faster than the 3060ti, it’s significant slower in the dx11 game that I play, FFXIV. The 3060Ti able to do 4K easily at 60 fps on max settings, I have to significantly lower settings in order to keep above 60 fps.
    Reply
  • blppt
    They could do that by implementing driver wide support for DX11 deferred contexts. But for some reason they never did

    I thought they decided that their GPU architecture would not benefit from that? I remember the whole reason they spent money on Mantle was that the way they designed that current GPU made it very tough to multithread pre-DX12 APIs universally, or something along those lines.
    Reply