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Tuesday, May 22, 2012
NVIDIA GeForce 301.42 WHQL Drivers Released

The new NVIDIA GeForce 301.42 WHQL drivers are now available to download. Building upon the 301.24 beta release that enabled NVIDIA FXAA, Adaptive VSync, Frame Rate Target and Surround features on all GeForce 8-series and later GPUs, the 301.42 WHQL drivers add official 4-way GTX 670 support and smaller changes. The new 301.42 WHQL drivers also include performance improvements of up to 20% compared to the previous WHQL release, in addition to many new 3D Vision and SLI profiles.

NVIDIA FXAA Technology

The majority of today’s games allow players to enable Multisample Anti-Aliasing (MSAA), either as part of a preset as in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, or as an in-game option. Anti-aliasing is a GPU-powered technique used to remove jagged, distracting object edges, and to enhance overall image fidelity. Unfortunately, MSAA is a particularly demanding anti-aliasing technique, reducing frame rates by a significant degree.

With the release of the GeForce 301.42 WHQL driver, a high-speed, shader-based anti-aliasing technique can be applied directly to games through the NVIDIA Control Panel. Nvidia claims that the NVIDIA FXAA technique is up to 60% faster than 4xMSAA, and can produce results equal to or better than the anti-aliasing solution. Furthermore, FXAA is able to anti-alias increasingly-popular transparent textures.

To activate NVIDIA FXAA, go to the ‘Manage 3D Settings’ section of the NVIDIA Control Panel. Alternatively, enable it on a per-title basis using the ‘Program Settings’ tab. Note that Control Panel FXAA will not be used if a game already features built-in NVIDIA FXAA support. In these cases, the FXAA option will be greyed-out in the game’s profile in the Program Settings tab.

NVIDIA Adaptive VSync

Many gamers enable Vertical Synchronization (VSync) to prevent screen-tearing, an unsightly occurrence caused by frame rates exceeding a monitor’s refresh rate. The downside is the occasional and equally annoying stutter when frame rates drop below the locked VSync frame rate, and again when they return to the locked rate.To fix the problem, the GeForce 301.42 WHQL drivers come loaded with NVIDIA Adaptive VSync, an automated technique that disables VSync when frame rates fall below the locked rate, and re-enables it when they return to the locked rate, reducing stuttering whilst still preventing tearing.

To enable NVIDIA Adaptive VSync, open the NVIDIA Control Panel, browse to ‘Manage 3D Settings’, click the ‘Global Settings’ tab, and scroll down the list to the option. Alternatively, enable it on a per-profile basis through the ‘Program Settings’ tab.

NVIDIA Surround Enhancements

The GeForce 301.42 WHQL drivers also introduce several new NVIDIA Surround features for our multi-monitor users.

  • NVIDIA Surround Accessory Display: Enable a fourth ‘Accessory Display’ to check emails, browse the web, or access other applications while in-game. This feature is supported on the GeForce GTX 680. On prior generation GPUs, this feature is supported in NVIDIA Surround mode with a third graphics card.
  • NVIDIA Desktop Management: Maximize applications to a single physical display when in Surround mode.
  • NVIDIA Desktop Management: Confine the Windows Taskbar to the center display.
  • NVIDIA Bezel Peeking: ‘Peek’ behind monitor bezels to reveal obscured menus and game information.
  • NVIDIA Central Display Acceleration: Play single-screen games at full speed on Surround setups.
  • NVIDIA Custom Resolution Management: Add or remove Surround resolutions to improve compatibility in applications and games.

NVIDIA Frame Rate Target

Using third-party tools such as EVGA Precision X, all NVIDIA GPU users can now enable NVIDIA Frame Rate Target to limit application frame rates to a specific, pre-defined frame rate. Its uses are many - for example, frame rates in decade-old games can be limited to 30 to prevent incompatibility issues; frame rates in today’s games can be limited to 60, preventing the GPU from working to the max, reducing heat and noise output; and frame rates can be capped to the monitor’s refresh rate, preventing tearing without enabling VSync.GeForce GTX 680 owners get the added benefit of even greater power savings when using NVIDIA Frame Rate Target, as the card’s GPU Boost technology can work in concert with Frame Rate Target to dynamically overclock and underclock the GPU based on the pre-defined frame rate.

Performance Improvements

The new drivers also improve performance on GeForce 400 and 500-series GPUs in the two dozen games. The largest improvement was again found in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the world’s most popular role-playing game. According to Nvidia, performance increased by 17-20% at 2560x1600 using the most demanding game settings available (similar gains were recorded at 1920x1080). Using the less-demanding High detail preset, Nvidia recorded an indoor improvement of up to 23.5% at the same resolution, and in outdoor environments we saw improvements of up to 17.9% on High, and 16.8% on Ultra. These improvements apply to almost all 400 and 500-series GPUs, Nvidia claims.Other performance improvements were found in Batman: Arkham City, Bulletstorm, Civilization V, Just Cause 2, StarCraft II, and Shogun 2, to name but a few.

Detail Settings:

  • Batman: Arkham City: 1920x1080, Very High detail level, Tessellation High, PhysX High.
  • Bulletstorm: 2560x1600, max settings.
  • Civilization V: 1900x1200, 8xMSAA, DirectX 11, max settings.
  • Just Cause 2: 1920x1080, DirectX 10, max settings.
  • Shogun 2: Total War: 1920x1080, DirectX 11, max settings.
On the GeForce GTX 580, Batman: Arkham City performance increased by 3.46%, Bulletstorm performance increased by 8.86%, Civilization V performance increased by 7.13%, Deus Ex: Human Revolution performance increased by 4.30%, Just Cause 2 performance increased by 4.19%, and Shogun 2: Total War performance increased by 4.98%.Detail Settings:
  • Batman: Arkham City: 1920x1080, Very High detail level, Tessellation High, PhysX High, FXAA High.
  • Bulletstorm: 2560x1600, max settings.
  • Civilization V: 2560x1600, 8xMSAA, DirectX 11, max settings.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution: 2560x1600, DirectX 11, Tessellation enabled, max settings.
  • Just Cause 2: 1920x1080, 4xMSAA, DirectX 10, max settings.
  • Shogun 2: Total War: 1920x1080, DirectX 11, max settings.
In many of our benchmarks, performance improvements carried across to SLI configurations also. On a 2-Way SLI GeForce GTX 560 Ti system, Batman: Arkham City performance increased by 4.48%, Bulletstorm performance improved by 12.07%, Civilization V performance improved by 8.81%, Far Cry 2 performance improved by 12.63%, Just Cause 2 performance improved by 15.17%, and StarCraft II performance improved by 9.28%.Detail Settings:
  • Bulletstorm: 2560x1600, max settings.
  • Civilization V: 2560x1600, 8xMSAA, DirectX 11, max settings.
  • Far Cry 2: 1920x1080, DirectX 10, max settings.
  • Just Cause 2: 1920x1080, DirectX 10, max settings.
  • StarCraft II: 2560x1600, 4xMSAA, max settings.
Other GTX 560 Ti SLI improvements of note: up to 5.2% extra performance in Batman: Arkham City, up to 3.82% extra performance in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, up to 3.65% extra performance in Dragon Age 2, up to 3.15% extra performance in F1 2011, up to 4.33% extra performance in Metro 2033, and up to 4.15% extra performance in Shogun 2: Total War.On a 2-Way SLI GeForce GTX 580 system, Bulletstorm performance improved by 8.11%, Civilization V performance improved by 6.43%, Far Cry 2 performance improved by 14.12%, Just Cause 2 performance improved by 23.21%, and StarCraft II performance improved by 16.71%. Detail Settings:
  • Bulletstorm: 2560x1600, max settings.
  • Far Cry 2: 1920x1080, DirectX 10, max settings.
  • Just Cause 2: 1920x1080, DirectX 10, max settings.
  • Shogun 2: Total War: 1920x1080, DirectX 11, max settings.
Other GTX 580 SLI improvements of note: up to 5.79% extra performance in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, up to 3.91% extra performance in DiRT 3, up to 5.55% extra performance in Dragon Age 2, up to 3.75% extra performance in F1 2011, up to 4.41% extra performance in Hard Reset, up to 4.70% extra performance in Metro 2033, and up to 4.58% extra performance in Total War: Shogun 2.New & Updated SLI ProfilesThe new GeForce driver also includes new and updated profiles for today’s top titles, increasing performance and unleashing the full power of SLI systems.
  • Alan Wake
  • Battlefield: Bad Company 2
  • Call of Juarez: The Cartel
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution - The Missing Link
  • Left 4 Dead
  • Max Payne 3
  • Orcs Must Die!
  • Portal 2
  • Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City
  • Risen 2: Dark Waters
  • Sniper Elite V2
  • Street Fighter X Tekken
  • The Darkness II

New & Updated 3D Vision Profiles

New and updated 3D Vision profiles are also included in the GeForce 301.42 WHQL drivers.

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

Changes Since 301.24 Beta

Compared to Nvidia's 301.24 beta drivers or the releases specifically for the GTX 670, 680 or 690, the new 301.42 WHQL drivers fix bugs, improve functionality, add 4-way GTX 670 SLI support and improve Mass Effect 3 override anti-aliasing performance.

New 3DTV Play Display Support

  • Mitsubishi HC7800D Projector
  • Samsung UE40ES6530 3DTV
  • Samsung UE40ES6710 3DTV
  • Samsung UE46ES8000 3DTV
  • Samsung UN40ES6500F 3DTV
  • Sharp LC-70C7450U 3DTV
Fixed Single-GPU Fixes
  • GeForce 200 series: 3D Vision - The stereoscopic 3D image capture function (via hotkeys) does not work.
  • GeForce 400 series: There is no picture when using LAV DirectShow Filters on MPC-HC for MPEG4 video playback.
  • GeForce 400/400M series: HDMI displays - Changes made to the NVIDIA Control Panel->Adjust Desktop Color Settings->Content type (ITC) reported to the display setting are not preserved across system reboots or suspend/resume cycles.
  • GeForce 500 series: Mass Effect – Anti-aliasing turns off for some objects at various positions.
  • GeForce 500 series: NEC PA241W - The NEC MultiProfiler Calibration software is unable to communicate with the monitor.
  • GeForce 600 series: ASUS VE278Q - Upon bootup, the DisplayPort display resolution is set to 1680x1050 instead of its native 1920x1080.
  • GeForce 600 series: Bully: Scholarship Edition - The main game character is drawn incorrectly.
  • GeForce 600 series: Dragon Age 2 - Shadows randomly become corrupted as you move characters around.
  • GeForce 600 series: F1 2012 - The bottom edge of the screen eventually turns completely black.
  • GeForce 600 series: The NVIDIA Control Panel incorrectly reports DirectX support as DirectX 11.0 instead of DirectX 11.1.
  • GeForce 600 series: World of Tanks - Red-screen crash occurs when playing the game.
  • When setting a custom resolution on the secondary Dualview (extended mode) display, the display goes blank.
Fixed Multi-GPU Issues
  • 2-way/3-way/4-way SLI: GeForce 500 series, DiRT 3 - Stuttering occurs in the menus and loading screens, and occasionally during a race.
  • 3D Surround, SLI: GeForce GTX 500 series, Batman: Arkham City - There is heavy flickering in the cut-scenes with 3D Surround enabled.
  • 3D Surround: With four displays connected, the displays used for Surround may not match what the Wizard depicts.
  • 3-way/4-way SLI: GeForce 600/500 Series - Certain custom resolutions result in ‘Display Driver Not Responding’ errors when running DirectX 11 games.
  • SLI: GeForce 400 series - If SLI is enabled immediately after installing the driver, there is screen corruption upon system boot up. If SLI is not enabled, then there is no option to enable SLI after the system boots up.
  • SLI: GeForce 500 series, 3D Vision, ASUS VG278H - The 3D monitor does not return to 2D mode when exiting a stereoscopic 3D video or game.
  • SLI: GeForce 500/200 series, 3DTV Play: Black bars appear in the lower right portion of the screen of alternate frames in 3DTV Play for 720p @ 60 Hz.
  • SLI: GeForce 500/400 series - With SLI enabled, the motherboard remains powered on even after shutting down Windows.
  • SLI: GeForce 600 series - When shutting down the system with SLI enabled, the driver hangs and requires the system to be shut off using the power switch.
  • SLI: GeForce 600 series, 3D Surround - The Windows taskbar appears on top of games when viewed in windowed full-screen mode.
  • Surround: GeForce 600 series - The Confine taskbar feature fails when the accessory display is set as the primary display.

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