GeForce v295.73 boosts Skyrim performance up to 44.5%, tons more

By on February 21, 2012, 4:00 PM

Thumbing its nose at AMD, Nvidia has announced a "game-changing" GeForce update with many "exclusive" improvements, including a substantial performance boost in Skyrim. Today's release expands on December's 290.53 beta drivers, which raised indoor frame rates by up to 25% in Bethesda's epic RPG (when compared against the 290.36 beta). The 295.73 WHQL drivers tout an even larger gain, with mid-range cards such as the GTX 560 witnessing up to 44.5% better performance (44.1% when SLIed).

Download GeForce 295.73 WHQL (release notes)
Desktop: Windows XP 32-bit | Windows XP 64-bit | Windows Vista/7 32-bit | Windows Vista/7 64-bit
Mobile: Windows Vista/7 32-bit | Windows Vista/7 64-bit

Nvidia notes this is particularly exciting because it doesn't simply bring the frame rates from "great" to "awesome" for mid-range users. When testing high-detail settings with 285.62 WHQL, the GTX 560 slips below 30fps, which most PC gamers deem unacceptable. The latest drivers push that up to about 40fps, allowing GTX 560 and GTX 560 Ti owners to experience Skyrim with "Ultra" graphical settings and high-res textures. GTX 580 owners should see a 36% bump from sub-60fps frame rates to around 70fps.

Again, we're strictly talking about indoor scenes, but that's where you'll spend a bulk of your time and Nvidia notes that outdoor performance tends to be CPU-dependent on higher-end configurations. Nonetheless, the company managed to squeeze a 16.2% boost out of the GTX 560 when comparing 285.62 WHQL with 295.73 WHQL in outdoor environments. Nvidia has also officially added Ambient Occlusion support for Skyrim, which was only previously available in the 290.36 and 290.53 betas.

Nvidia reportedly improved the frame rate impact of using Ambient Occlusion since its introduction, though the company didn't offer any specifics. The feature provides more realistic shadows and must be enabled through the Nvidia Control Panel ("Manage 3D Settings" > Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim in the drop-down > set "Ambient Occlusion" to "Performance" or "Quality" and click apply). We've created a quick GIF comparison of the feature on and off, but Nvidia offers several high-res interactive images.

Ambient Occlusion support is also now available for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, the Diablo III beta, and the Mass Effect 3 demo, which launched last week. Nvidia offers interactive screenshots for the first two, while ME3 is accompanied by a graph to illustrate how well the game already scales in SLI. The company reports a 91.63% improvement when playing ME3 at 1080p with two GTX 560s and 90% with GTX 570s. At 2560x1440, the SLIed GTX 560s improved 100% and the GTX 570s jumped more than 95%.

Version 295.73 WHQL adds SLI profiles for 12 games including Kingdoms of Alamur: Reckoning, The Darkness II and Trine 2, as well as new or updated 3D Vision profiles for 41 titles like Alan Wake and Dota 2. 3D Vision gamers also receive a new 3D crosshair for Skyrim that better matches the 2D version (enable it with CTRL+F12 and then disable the 2D crosshair in the game settings). Along with the obligatory bug fixes (complete list here), Nvidia mentions a handful of miscellaneous changes:

  • 295.73 WHQL adds support for 3D Vision windowed mode on DLP HDTVs and on Optimized for GeForce passive 3D monitors.
  • Includes updated PhysX 9.12.0209 System Software for improved compatibility and performance in Alice: Madness Returns and Batman: Arkham City.
  • Enables WHQL-certified support for NVIDIA Surround on Intel X79 SLI-certified motherboards.
  • Fixes instances of texture corruption/artifacts in Battlefield 3 when memory constrained (typically on 1GB or less graphics cards running Ultra settings and high resolutions).



User Comments: 27

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marinkvasina marinkvasina said:

I really want AMD to get better software aswell, i prefer them always have , always will even though my first gpu was an nvdia

Nice to see that they care for software aswell as for hardware

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Thanks Nvidia, I will give the ambient Occlusion a go, Currently playing through the orginal Mass Effect 1 & 2, we'll see if this impacts frames or not

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

Not sure Skyrim graphics performance improvements can be called "game changing" even if they are getting 60+% improvements. It can be played on very low hardware specs compared to some other new games such as BF3. If they can apply that same improvement to other games that really test hardware then that's a new ball game.

mikeusru said:

So do any of these new drivers improve anything for those of use who use older cards - such as the GTX 260? Do they just not advertise those results, or are they just trying to get me to buy their new cards by not supporting the older ones anymore?

adamantell said:

lets hope i can load skyrim with the drivers..

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Initial observations...

The driver fixes the memory leakage bug with hardware accelerated video playback (MPC-HC/VLC/WMP). Seems very stable and the expanded control panel options are very welcome.

lipe123 said:

When are we getting SLI support for minecraft :P

Timonius Timonius said:

What, no Old Republic love?

Guest said:

Welcome to Marketing 101 :-)

Guest said:

Things like that are what I want to see when I see a new catalyst anounced, not 2-3% imprevoments, at most, when we are lucky.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

Guest said:

Things like that are what I want to see when I see a new catalyst anounced, not 2-3% imprevoments, at most, when we are lucky.

40% improvement is another way of saying "We did a terrible job before and our previous drivers were rubbish" whereas 2-3% is "We've done some little bits of tweaking here and there".

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Darth Shiv said:

Guest said:

Things like that are what I want to see when I see a new catalyst anounced, not 2-3% imprevoments, at most, when we are lucky.

40% improvement is another way of saying "We did a terrible job before and our previous drivers were rubbish" whereas 2-3% is "We've done some little bits of tweaking here and there".

Oh, Mr. Read, what brings you around here today?

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

40% improvement is another way of saying "We did a terrible job before and our previous drivers were rubbish" whereas 2-3% is "We've done some little bits of tweaking here and there".

Conversely it could say that driver optimization on a relatively new game adds substantially to frame rate increases. Then again, you could be right:

[link]

[link]

[link]

So if by your reckoning, Nvidia and AMD can't get the job done I presume you are using the mighty Intel graphics?

p3ngwin said:

dividebyzero said:

Initial observations...

The driver fixes the memory leakage bug with hardware accelerated video playback (MPC-HC/VLC/WMP). Seems very stable and the expanded control panel options are very welcome.

thanks for the confirmation about the previous memory-leak, that was really annoying.

will give these drivers a try-out.

Marnomancer Marnomancer said:

Of course Nvidia is the undisputed king of the arena, but what I didn't like is that some new drivers (even non-beta) actually degraded performance. That happened with the 270.xx release. My fps in all games plummeted, lowest being CS:S @ 29 fps. The 285 release solved the problem.

And before anyone asks, I made sure it was due to the drivers. Because nothing else had been changed.

Anyway I surely am going to give this a try.

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

dividebyzero said:

40% improvement is another way of saying "We did a terrible job before and our previous drivers were rubbish" whereas 2-3% is "We've done some little bits of tweaking here and there".

Conversely it could say that driver optimization on a relatively new game adds substantially to frame rate increases. Then again, you could be right:

[link]

[link]

[link]

So if by your reckoning, Nvidia and AMD can't get the job done I presume you are using the mighty Intel graphics?

I actually chuckled a little at "mighty."

Twixtea said:

Actually Nvidia always did a great job with drivers.

Marnomancer Marnomancer said:

After my experience, I've come to hate all Intel products and love Nvidia GPUs and AMD CPUs.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

dividebyzero said:

So if by your reckoning, Nvidia and AMD can't get the job done I presume you are using the mighty Intel graphics?

No certainly not supporting Intel here... anyone who games knows that Intel solutions are relatively poor for graphics next to an AMD or NVIDIA solution. I'm just saying the drivers don't appear to be mature yet. You don't just magic up 40+% performance gain out of nowhere.

Capaill said:

Why do these updates take so long? The game has been out for 3 months and I've already put over 200 hours into it. I have finished almost every storyline and am now frankly bored with it. It was the same with the recent high-res texture pack that Bethesda released. Thanks but I've moved on.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Capaill said:

Why do these updates take so long? The game has been out for 3 months and I've already put over 200 hours into it. I have finished almost every storyline and am now frankly bored with it. It was the same with the recent high-res texture pack that Bethesda released. Thanks but I've moved on.

I like it taking a while, People like myself who wait for a game to drop to around £20-£30 get the better smoother graphics and most the bugs get sorted out when i eventually get round to buying it.

Thank you Bethesda and thank you Nvidia

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

You don't just magic up 40+% performance gain out of nowhere.

The "out of nowhere" is four months.

If you'd bothered to read the release notes:

[link]

GeForce Forceware 285.62 (last whql) launched 24 October, 2011 (note that this is before Skyrim's launch)

Skyrim launched November 11, 2011

And, no, before you head off on a tangent. Nvidia like AMD measure performance gains from WHQL to WHQL driver release....and a second no, to anticipate the next tangent, Nvidia have in the interim launched 285.64, 285.79, 290.36, 290.53 and 295.51 beta's.

treetops treetops said:

I had a feeling this was going to happen, with bf3 as well. But then again it usually happens whether I have that feeling or not. Does the refrigerator light really turn off

?!?!

lol im jolly today

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

dividebyzero said:

You don't just magic up 40+% performance gain out of nowhere.

The "out of nowhere" is four months.

But that's my point. The *hardware* hasn't changed. Physically the card is the same as before. The software did change. So what they did in 4 months was they got more out of the hardware than they were getting previously. So the software was not previously near optimal - it was at least 40% off.

Guest said:

I personally have no problem with 40% off. Why? Because their initial (and up until now) prices reflected their "previous" performance. This patch is literally a free performance boost, and a large one at that.

It's not as if their prices up until now have been too high, matching what their performance was SUPPOSED to be, and just now the price has finally matched up. You'd have to be a ***** to complain about this, unless you're an AMD fanboy in denial or something.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

So what they did in 4 months was they got more out of the hardware than they were getting previously

You don't think it likely that the previous driver issued three weeks before the actual game launch wasn't as optimal as it could have been? Are you somehow expecting 97+% of final performance from drivers for games yet to be released?

So for instance-in your idealized world, this driver and Catalyst 12.2 should provide ~97% of the atttainable performance for Borderlands 2, Mass Effect 3, etc. Seems fairly unrealistic to expect a driver team to nail down anything approaching that number with limited access to the code and/or exhaustive beta testing.

It also seems unrealistic to lambast a driver with "We did a terrible job before and our previous drivers were rubbish", when 1. It presents a corner case in one game, and 2. is obviously, like all driver release game gains, a measure of hyperbole, and 3. is certainly no more outrageous- and in some cases much better (see the Catalyst links I posted) than anyone else in the industry.

Seems odd that in all the years here you decide to deride a driver that is certainly nowhere near the levels of bombast found in my others, and choose to highlight a number that makes a comparison from a pre-release driver to (fairly) mature one

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Disappointed that Optimus for mobile is still having issues .

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