Nvidia’s Geforce 301.42 Driver up for grabs

But don’t download it if you’re on a Kepler-based card. I’m serious. If you’re running a Fermi-based graphics setup however, take a peek inside, you may like what you find. While there’s obviously nothing spectacular that you would expect, there’s a number of SLI improvements to a few AAA titles and Skyrim got some attention too.

What’s really interesting is that this driver now brings two things to much older cards starting from ones based off the G80 chip – Adaptive V-Sync and FXAA. The V-Sync addition isn’t new but was only shipped by default with Geforce 600 cards on their included driver CDs. FXAA, on the other hand, could help bring new life to Geforce 8000, 9000, GT-200 and GT-400 cards that have a 1GB or larger frame buffer. 

As it is though, you’ll only be playing modern games with G80-based cards at 720p (recommended) or 1080p if you’re insanely masochistic and want to see Battlefield 3 as a slideshow. This new driver release only concentrates on improvements to SLI and single-card performance for Fermi-based cards as the limits of older architectures are already stretched to their limits. FXAA is a welcome addition to lighten the load on GPUs using anti-aliasing to smooth out lines in-game, but will really only be used in cards that have a 1GB or larger frame buffer.

Also new are the improvements to Nvidia’s multi-display Surround software. You can now have a centered taskbar like AMD’s Catalyst 12.1 introduced, you can maximise an application to only the screen that its currently showing on and you can now have up to four displays with the fourth one being for something non-gaming related like e-mails, social networking or other programs that need to be monitored. There’s also bezel peeking using a key combination to see something that’s hidden behind the bezels in bezel-corrected games and full-surround apps. Nvidia Surround is only applicable to GPUs based on Fermi or Kepler and isn’t available for older SLI setups.

I see Nvidia’s also introduced a frame rate limiter to cap your games in case you don’t want to enable V-Sync. You’d have to enable it in the control panel and it will cap your frames to any limit you want, or that you card is capable of. Setting it too high will break your games and will introduce stuttering, so a 50fps limit should be what you should set for regular monitors.

Performance Boosts In-Game: (Results will vary depending on your GPU and system configuration)

GeForce GTX 570/580:
– Up to 23% in Just Cause 2 with SLI
– Up to 21% in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
– Up to 17% in StarCraft II with SLI
– Up to 14% in Far Cry 2 with SLI
– Up to 9% in Bulletstorm
– Up to 7% in Civilization V
– Up to 6% in Deus Ex: Human Revolution with SLI
– Up to 6% in Dragon Age 2 with SLI
– Up to 5% in Metro 2033 with SLI
– Up to 5% in Total War: Shogun 2
GeForce GTX 560/560 Ti:
– Up to 20% in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
– Up to 15% in Just Cause 2 with SLI
– Up to 13% in Far Cry 2 with SLI
– Up to 12% in Bulletstorm
– Up to 11% in Civilization V
– Up to 10% in StarCraft II with SLI
– Up to 9% in Batman: Arkham City
– Up to 4% in Deus Ex: Human Revolution with SLI
– Up to 4% in Dragon Age 2 with SLI
– Up to 4% in Metro 2033 with SLI
– Up to 4% in Total War: Shogun 2

New SLI Profiles for Various Titles:

– Alan Wake
– Call of Juarez: The Cartel
– Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
– Deus Ex: Human Revolution – The Missing Link
– Left 4 Dead
– Orcs Must Die!
– Portal 2
– Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City 
– Risen 2: Dark Waters
– The Darkness II
– Battlefield: Bad Company 2
– Crusader Kings II
– Max Payne 3 
– Sniper Elite V2
– Street Fighter X Tekken

Nvidia 3D Vision Profiles for Various Titles: (Ratings apply to how well 3D is handled)

– All Zombies Must Die! – rated Fair
– Ghosts ‘n Goblins Online – rated Good
– Oil Rush – rated 3D Vision Ready
– Postal III – rated Good
– Rayman Origins – rated Good
– SevenCore – rated Fair
– Stacking – rated Good
– Unigine Heaven Benchmark v3.0 – rated 3D Vision Ready
– Wargame: European Escalation – rated Good
– Warp – rated Good
– Wings of Prey – rated Fair
– Krater – rated Poor
– Adam’s Venture Episode 1- rated Poor
– Blacklight: Retribution – rated Poor
– The Darkness II – updated in-game recommended settings
– Depth Hunter – updated profile
– Dirt: Showdown – rated Good
– Passion Leads Army Benchmark – rated 3D Vision Ready
– Resident Evil: Operating Raccoon City – Rated Fair
– rFactor 2 – changed rating to 3D Vision Ready
– Trackmania 2: Canyon – rated Fair
– Unigine 3.0 Heaven Benchmark – updated profile
– World of Tanks – changed rating to Excellent.

Download it now: Windows Vista/7 32-bit or 64-bit, Windows XP 32-bit or 64-bit. Sorry for the Linux folks, you’re going to have to wait a while before any of these improvements reach you.

Just remember, if you’re using a Kepler-based card, this isn’t for you. Adaptive V-Sync problems with those cards using the non-supplied drivers are only going to be fixed in the next major driver release, 302 WHQL, for June.

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