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FPS Impact: NVIDIA Forceware 175.16 vs 175.19 E-mail
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Written by Olin Coles   
Thursday, 26 June 2008
Table of Contents: Page Index
FPS Impact: NVIDIA Forceware 175.16 vs 175.19
Newer is better, right?
Is 175.16 better than 175.19?
3dMark06 Differences
Crysis Benchmark Tests
Video Card Testing Methodology
Final Thoughts on Forceware

NVIDIA Forceware Driver Updates

Most people would think that when NVIDIA, who is the world-class leader in graphics technology, releases a new driver to the public that performance would either remain the same with some stability improvements, or that both performance and stability would increase. As a hardware enthusiast for over a decade, I know that this isn't true. Very recently NVIDIA updated their Forceware driver from version 175.16 to 175.19. Anyone familiar with their updates would agree that the version number difference is so small that it would suggest nothing has really changed. But did NVIDIA take two steps backward instead? Benchmark Reviews offers this small article to demonstrate what we discovered while testing the GeForce 9800 GTX and 9800 GX2 video cards.

With the recent launch of NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 280 behind me, I began setting my sights on testing AMD/ATI's counter-offer to the market. Having just spent the better part of a week with a fresh new test system and about a dozen new video cards, our benchmark results were consistent and complete. This meant that I had to do little more than uninstall the Forceware driver and use Driver Cleaner Pro to remove the leftover traces, and then install ATI's Catalyst 8.6 to test the Radeon HD 4850.


Normally, this would be the end of the story. There would be another round of tests for the new card, and I would write my story and move on to the next project. Not this time. As it turns out, NVIDIA updated their Forceware driver from version 175.16 to 175.19. I didn't think anything of it at first, but since I must keep everything documented I decided to give the new updated Forceware driver a test.

The GeForce 9800 GX2 was awaiting my direction so a new driver could be found and installed, and like always I use the "Have Disk" option to manually select the nv4_disp driver. Keeping in mind that my test procedure has been repeated about a dozen times each day for almost a month, it goes without saying that this has become second nature to me. My natural reflex had developed an uninstall Forceware > Driver Cleaner > restart Windows XP routine in my muscle memory.

So would you think that I noticed any real differences? I figured that a wide variety of concentrated stresses would give me the tale of the tape in short order; but I had no idea that my results were about to become so different that I would postpone my review to write this article. Benchmark Reviews tests Crysis, Unreal Tournament 3, Lightsmark 2007, and 3dMark06 in this article to show how three tiny version steps forward would make a video card produce two completely different results. Read on for the big surprise, and be prepared to go backwards.


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