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AMD vs Nvidia: Whose Driver Updates Improve Performance More?

The Witcher 3 (2015, DX11)

When our team picks games to test, we naturally gravitate toward popular titles relevant to our readers. However, we also try to mix in dissimilar genres, diverse API support, games that promote repeatability, and a variety of underlying game engines.

The Witcher 3 utilizes CD Projekt Red’s REDengine 3. Although its renderer supports DirectX 11 and is loaded with Nvidia GameWorks effects, AMD and Nvidia hardware are more evenly matched in this game.

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Small, steady gains give AMD’s Radeon RX 480 a 3% speed-up in today’s The Witcher 3 frame rates compared to June 2016.

The oldest and newest driver builds exhibit the greatest number of frame time spikes, though. This is evident in our frames per second by percentile chart, which shows the slowest 1% of frames falling off more slowly with Crimson ReLive Edition 17.7.2. A 99th percentile frame rate of 52.3 is almost 3% better than 16.6.2’s 50.8 FPS result.

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Next to no improvement over two years in The Witcher 3 suggests that Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 6GB was already well-optimized for this game when it launched.

Although average frame rates suggest a lack of variation from driver to driver, the latest 398.36 build suffers a worse 99th percentile frame rate than its predecessors. A peek at the FPS by percentile chart even shows how the slowest 5% of frames drop off faster.

In our launch coverage, GeForce GTX 1060 6GB led Radeon RX 480 8GB by about 5%. Today, the competing mid-range cards appear evenly matched, with AMD serving up a superior 99th percentile frame rate using the latest drivers from both companies.

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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.