New Nvidia drivers: Worth having.

I just installed the brand new v163.71 Nvidia drivers (the last non-beta release was v162.18), and benchmarked Supreme Commander before and after. There's a small but significant improvement.

I'm tired of seeing articles about AMAZING NEW DRIVER IMPROVEMENTS OMG and then discovering that there's only any difference if you're using a GeForce 8800 on Windows Bloody Vista.

I've got a 32-bit-WinXP computer with a 2.2GHz (at the moment) dual core Athlon 64 and a 256Mb GeForce 7900 GT.

That's probably still faster than the average, but it's pretty far from the current cutting edge. (Only two cores, dahling? However can you cope?)

Driver tweaks aimed at the super-expensive dual-slot super-cards won't help me at all. I'm guessing that they won't help most of you, either. Tweaks that help a GeForce 7900 ought to be some use for various other current affordable Nvidia cards, though.

I've also got an effing big monitor, so I ran the tests in 2560 by 1600 resolution. That's practical for fullscreen Supreme Commander if you've got some flavour of 8800 (ATI aren't really in the very-high-end race at the moment), but it's actually very playable if...

Supreme Commander at 2560 by 1600 split the monitor between the normal view and the easy-to-draw topographic-view map.

Running the standard "perftest" benchmark in that resolution guarantees, despite Core Maximizer, that the game will be video-card-limited most of the time.

The Supreme Commander benchmark reports total frames rendered, "sim" performance (how fast the game calculates everything-but-graphics), "render" performance (graphics alone) and a "composite" score that roughly represents overall performance.

In this graphics-heavy test, my "render" result increased by nineteen per cent with the new drivers. The giant resolution and less-than-incredible video card meant that, in the peculiar jargon of the perftest benchmark, the "render" score only improved from minus 1029 to minus 863. But trust me, that's still good.

The logged-frames difference was +0.7%, which probably means less than experimental error and definitely means nothing you'd ever notice. The sim score improved only slightly more, at +1.6%. But the composite score improved 4.7%, from 5794 to 6065.

You probably wouldn't actually notice that in play - it's a general rule of thumb that differences of less than ten per cent aren't noticeable. But almost five per cent is not a bad improvement to get for free.

Complex Supreme Commander games are almost 100% CPU limited. Smaller games, though - and even complex games when you can't see much of the enormous map you're playing on - don't give your graphics card much time to breathe, especially if you've taken advantage of SupCom's still-rare ability to make use of a second monitor. So I don't think I'm lying with statistics, here.

(I'm not, to be fair, actually playing much Supreme Commander at the moment. I got ETQW yesterday, and intend to Strogg 4 Life for a while before getting back to the direction of vast robotic armies.)

3 Responses to “New Nvidia drivers: Worth having.”

  1. reyalp Says:

    Just FWIW, the official etqw site is not the you linked above.

    main site is horrible flash garbage, but has some useful stuff

  2. one solitary guy Says:

    why $800 items are not ideal impulse buys

    Someday i’ll regret having no respect for my money in my 20s.
    I’ll enjoy it while it lasts, though.
    2407WFP-HC. 24″. 1920×1200. For $800, if you get a good deal.
    The question isn’t whether you want one. It’s what the...

  3. RichVR Says:

    And I just switched to ATI with my last major upgrade. My first PCI-E system... $1000US and I went Radeon HD 2600XT. Sigh.

    BTW. Since the Commando motherboard that I purchased has a small sound card that can only be plugged it to the "special" connector over the x16 PCI-E connector. And since the Radeon card that I ordered is the one with the passive heatsink that is HUGE. I have to plug the card in to the lower x4 slot. I would be using the SB Fatal1ty card for sound. But after a month of emails to Creative and a RMA that came up with "no faults found" on the card, it just doesn't work with my setup. So. Onboard sound. x4 PCI-E slot. Grrrrr!!!!

    Sorry for venting.

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