Does Updating Graphics Card Drivers Improve Performance? Answered

Published in 2015, Updated in 2022.

Let's try to answer these questions - Does updating graphics card drivers improve performance, and by how much? Should You update graphics card drivers; Is it safe?

I ran some benchmarks before and after updating the drivers, and the gaming performance (FPS) gain was over 20% in some of the games!!!

AMD and Nvidia released new drivers, which has been going on for years.

AMD and Nvidia claim that the Gaming performance will increase with the GPU driver update, so I went ahead and tested the hypothesis.

Recently AMD released new Omega drivers, which AMD claims to bring huge improvements to the current game titles like Far Cry 4, Assassin's Creed Rogue, and Crysis 3 & Far Cry 3.

Nvidia or AMD Graphics Driver Update Impact on Gaming Performance
Nvidia or AMD Graphics Driver Update Impact on Gaming Performance

Performance Impact of Graphics Card Drivers

The findings I got are very interesting and will help Gamers estimate how much they can push their Graphics card Performance with Driver updates and overclocking. Apart from the Graphics driver update, I am also benchmarking the impact of overclocking the GPU, so stay with me to explore how you can increase your GPU performance.

Last month we did a long testing session on the graphics card overclocking for beginners and advanced users; you can read the Graphics Cards Overclocking Guide.

To Map Nvidia or AMD Graphics Driver Update Impact on Gaming Performance, we will use the following System :

Test Setup Gaming PC Build :

  • Processor – Intel Core i5 3570k.
  • Motherboard – Z77 Asrock Extreme 6.
  • Graphics Card – Sapphire AMD HD 7950 OC edition.
  • Operating System – Windows 8.1
  • Base clock 850 Mhz.
  • Boost Clock 925 Mhz.
  • RAM – Corsair Vengeance 8 GB.
  • Cabinet – HAF 912.
  • Monitor – Dell S2240 L
  • Hard Drive – Seagate Barracuda 7200 RPM.

The processor we are using for this test is at its base clock of 3.4 GHz. The Graphics card we will use both at the base clock, and we will test it with overclocking. We, later on, plan to do a similar test with Nvidia GTX 1060, which is more likely to show the same impact on performance.

We used two different versions of AMD Drivers. Here are the Details of Both Versions:

Driver Version DetailsRelease Date
Drives Version 14.0718-Aug-14
Driver Version 14.11.2012-Dec-14

The software we are using for overclocking is Sapphire Trixx.

Overclocked Setting
Overclocked Setting

Graphics Card Setting We used in Benchmarks.

Graphics Card Core/Memory Clock and Power Draw
Core Clock 925 Mem Clock 1250 PD 0% Old Driver
Core Clock 1050 Mem Clock 1350 PD 20% Old Driver
Core Clock 925 Mem Clock 1250 PD 0% New Driver
Core Clock 1050 Mem Clock 1355 PD 20% New Driver

*PD stands for Board Power Draw. In overclocked settings, we have increased the core clock from 925 to 1050 and the memory clock from 1250 to 1350. Board Power draw also increased to 20% to get stable performance. Also we bumped up the voltage by a couple of points for stability.

For temperature measurement and other Parameters monitoring, we used GPU-Z.

GpU Z overclock
Gpu Z temperature

Sapphire HD 7950

Games Tested With Different Driver Versions

I am testing - BF3, Far Cry 3, Crysis 3, and Crysis 2 to check gains in real-world gaming performance.

We tested the games first with the old drivers Aug'14 version 14.07 and were able to run all the games above 30 FPS on ultra or high setting on our FHD(1920*1080) monitor. Then we overclocked the GPU and ran the games, and after that, updated the drivers to the newer version and repeated the tests.

Starting with Battlefield 3 Gaming Performance on Ultra 1080p:

Nvidia or AMD Graphics Driver Update Impact on Gaming Performance

Graphics Card Driver Performance BF3

How Much is the Impact of Graphics card drivers on FPS and Gaming Performance?

In Battlefield 3, using old drivers and stock clock, we get Min 81 FPS, Avg 89, and a Max of 107 FPS. As we overclock, the card avg moves up to 100 FPS with the old drivers. The current AMD Omega driver's average is 120 FPS without overclocking the graphics card. Pushing the card with an increase of power draw and core clock, we set it to 1050 on the Core clock and 1350 on the memory clock reaching an impressive 133 FPS.

The increase is fantastic, and if you can push a card from 89 FPS to 133 Avg FPS, it is a healthy gain of almost 50% with a combined impact of overclocking and Omega Drivers.

The results were impressive, and it is wonderful that AMD has been able to increase the driver performance in the HD Series graphics cards.

Crysis 2

Nvidia or AMD Graphics Driver Update Impact on Gaming Performance

Crysis 2 is old but is a great game, and the graphics look good even compared to some of the recent games.

Nvidia or AMD Graphics Driver Update Impact on Gaming Performance

Impact of Graphics card driver update in Crysis 3?

In Crysis 2, using old drivers and a stock clock, we get Min 50 FPS, Avg 58, and a Max of 73 FPS. As we overclock, the card avg moves up to 67 FPS with the old drivers. The current Omega driver average moves to a decent 70 FPS without overclocking the graphics card. Pushing the card with an increase of power draw and core clock, we get an impressive 75 Avg FPS.

Far Cry 3

Far Cry 3 is a challenging game that can push many smaller graphics cards to their limit. We had some stuttering in the game when we overclocked our card above 1100 MHz on the core clock in this game.

Nvidia or AMD Graphics Driver Update Impact on Gaming Performance

In Far Cry 3, using old drivers and stock clock, we get Min 58 FPS, Avg 72, and a Max of 81 FPS. As we overclock, the card avg moves up to 79 FPS with the old drivers. The current Omega driver average moves to good 89 FPS without overclocking the graphics card. Overclocking the card with an increase of power draw and a slight bump in voltage, we get an impressive 100 Avg FPS.

The results were too good in this demanding game, and we reached 100 Avg FPS from 72 Avg FPS with the combined effect of overclocking and driver update.

Crysis 3

This game can melt your graphics card, and pushes any hardware to the limit. The most breathtaking graphics game from Crytek. The game is set to ultra on Full HD with AA on.

Nvidia or AMD Graphics Driver Update Impact on Gaming Performance

Graphics Card Driver Performance Crysis 3

In Crysis 3, using old drivers and a stock clock, we get a poor Min 20 FPS, Avg 27, and a Max of 38 FPS. As we overclock, the card avg moves up to a playable 30 FPS with the old drivers. The current Omega driver's average moves to 35 FPS without overclocking the graphics card. Overclocking the card with an increase of power draw and a slight bump in voltage, we get a playable 38 Avg FPS and a Max of 54.

The results were too good in the most demanding game, and we reached 38 Avg FPS from 27 Avg FPS with the combined effect of overclocking and driver update.

Concluding Thoughts: Should You update your Graphics card Drivers?

The effect of updating to the newer version of the graphics card driver makes a significant improvement in gameplay as the hardware and software work more effectively with the new set of drivers to deliver better gaming performance.

To put the growth we get in numbers, here is the FPS gain due to driver update: We have compared the Stock clock performance with old & new drivers and overclocked graphics card performance with new and old drivers.

Avg FPS Growth %BF3Far Cry 3Crysis 3 Crysis 2
Growth in Fps Due to Drivers(Stock Clock)34%23%33%20%
Growth in Fps Due to Drivers(with OverClock)33%27%28%13%

I have always been curious to map this driver update effect, hope you enjoyed the article.

Also, if you are still facing issues with Graphics Card Performance - I wrote a guide on nine useful tips to enhance GPU performance for free (read here).

Related Articles - How to Overclock AMD or Nvidia Card the Right Way.

Best Gaming PC Configuration for Rs. 60,000.

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Kanuj Sharma

Kanuj Sharma is the editor at Candytech.in for the last 8 years. He has been building Gaming PCs for more than two decades. Most of his time is spent trying, testing, reviewing new gadgets, mobiles, computer parts, and writing articles. His vast experience makes him a go-to expert on technology. He also has a product marketing experience in Telecom (Vodafone-Idea). Academically, he has done Mechanical Engineering and MBA. If you like my work connect with me on social.