Nvidia has just released new R300 beta drivers in the form of 301.24 that bring most of the new features introduced with the GeForce GTX 680 GPUs to owners of older graphics hardware such as the GTX 580 or GTX 590 back to GeForce 8-series. This means you will get access to NVIDIA FXAA, NVIDIA Adaptive VSync, and NVIDIA Frame Rate Target and all NVIDIA Surround-capable GPUs now support the new NVIDIA Surround features, like the ability to use a fourth accessory display for example.
The new NVIDIA’s FXAA anti-aliasing technique can now be enabled for games that does not feature built-in support from the Nvidia Control Panel allowing better image quality at a reduced performance drop. FXAA can be up to 60% faster than 4xMSAA and provide similar or even better anti-aliasing, so definitely a better choice especially for more demanding games and especially when using AA in stereo 3D mode. It is of course not as good as what the latest TXAA technique can provide, but if you don’t have the latest GPUs, then even being able to enable FXAA is an improvement over the MSAA.
The new NVIDIA Adaptive VSync feature is an automated technique that disables VSync (Vertical Synchronization) when frame rates fall below the locked rate (60 or 120 for example), and re-enables it when they return to the locked rate resulting in significant reduction of stuttering whilst still preventing tearing. This means that you are going to be getting much less noticeable stuttering when the framerate drops while using Adaptive VSync, although it will not be completely gone, it will be much better than when using traditional VSync where the framerate might be constantly jumping between 30 and 60 fps trying to stay for as much as possible at one of these values resulting in micro stuttering.
The new NVIDIA Frame Rate Target will allow you to limit a game’s frame rate to a specific value and the video card will try to keep up that framerate, not trying to go over it. This feature requires some extra software such as EVGA Precision X and using it can help you resolve problems when playing old games by keeping them maxed out at a lower framerate than they may try to achieve, or even as an alternative to VSync by locking the maximum framerate to 60 or 120 fps (depending on your monitor) preventing tearing. The ideas behind this feature is that there is not much point for the GPU to render let’s say 2000 fps at a game’s menu or trying to achieve a higher framerate than you need – having some power and lowering the heat and noise level of the video card when there is no need for it to be maxed out for full performance. The owners of GeForce GTX 680 can benefit more as this function also takes advantage of the GPU Boost technology to dynamically overclock and underclock the GPU based on the performance level currently required.
The new NVIDIA Surround Enhancements features include: the ability to use of a fourth “Accessory Display”, the ability to maximize applications to a single physical display, the ability to have the Windows Taskbar to stay only on the center display, the ability to “Peek” behind monitor bezels, the ability to play single-screen games with full acceleration on Surround setups and the add or remove some of the extra Surround resolutions that you may or may not need. Of course on older generations of GPUs before GTX 680 you would still need to have either a multi-GPU video card or at least two cards in SLI in order to drive a Surround setup with three displays, only on the GTX 680 you can do it with a single card.
There are also some SLI profile updates as well as new and updated 3D Vision profiles included in the GeForce 301.24 beta drivers in order to get you better performance and thus an experience when playing in stereoscopic 3D mode:
- All Zombies Must Die! – Rated Fair
- Ghosts ‘n Goblins Online – Rated Good
- Krater – Rated Poor
- 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
Thanks Nvidia, now I have even less reason to upgrade my dual GTX 580 SLI setup to GTX 680s… ;)