Updated – 20-June-2020 published in December 2014.
Let’s try to answer the question – Does updating graphics card drivers improve performance and by how much? Should You update graphics card drivers? What does updating the Graphics card drivers do?
We get every month new drivers from AMD and Nvidia and continue to upgrade the older versions. The activity has been going on for years. AMD and Nvidia claim with each driver update that gaming performance will increase significantly and they are right as well. We wanted to understand the real impact it brings to gaming performance.
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. We would like to put that claim to test.
Nvidia or AMD Graphics Driver Update Impact on Gaming Performance
Does Graphics Driver Update Improve Gaming Performance – Yes!
But How Much lets find out ?
Findings which we got are very interesting and will help Gamers estimate how much can they push there Graphics card Performance with Driver updates and overclocking. Last month we did a long testing session on the graphics card overclocking for both 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 as well as we will test it with overclocking. We, later on, plan to do a similar test with Nvidia GTX 970 or GTX 980 which is more likely to show the same impact on performance.
We used two different Version of AMD Drivers Here are the Details of Both the Versions:
|Driver Version Details||Release Date|
|Drives Version 14.07||18-Aug-14|
|Driver Version 14.11.20||12-Dec-14|
The software we are using for overclocking is Sapphire Trixx for measuring (Nvidia or AMD Graphics Driver Update Impact on Gaming Performance.)
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 we increased to 20% to get stable performance also we bumped up the voltage by a couple of points for stable performance.
For temperature measurement and other Parameters monitoring, we used GPU-Z.
Now we have established the basics, we will see the test results for games – BF3, Far Cry 3, Crysis 3 and Crysis 2 on next page to see how much all this help us gain in real-world gaming performance.
Nvidia or AMD Graphics Driver Update Impact on 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. All games are set to ultra or very high settings the game settings remain the same while testing it on both sets of drivers to get comparable results.
Starting with Battlefield 3 Gaming Performance on Ultra 1080p:
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 Max of 107 FPS. As we overclock the card avg moves up to 100 FPS with the old drivers. With the current Omega drivers average moves to a phenomenal 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 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 81 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 as well.
Crysis 2 is old but is a great game and graphics look good even compared to some of games released in 2014 as well.
Impact of Graphics card driver update in Crysis 3?
In Crysis 2 using old drivers and stock clock, we get Min 50 FPS, Avg 58, and Max of 73 FPS. As we overclock the card avg moves up to 67 FPS with the old drivers. With the current Omega drivers 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 which can push may smaller graphics card to their limit. We had some stuttering in the game when we overclocked our card above 1100 on the core clock in this game.
In Far Cry 3 using old drivers and stock clock we get Min 58 FPS, Avg 72 , and Max of 81 FPS. As we overclock the card avg moves up to 79 FPS with the old drivers. With the current Omega drivers 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 to 100 Avg FPS from 72 Avg FPS with the combined effect of overclocking and driver update.
It can melt your graphics card, it is true the game can push any hardware to limits. The most breathtaking graphics game from Crytek. The game is set to ultra on Full HD with AA on.
In Crysis 3 using old drivers and stock clock we get poor Min 20 FPS, Avg 27, and Max of 38 FPS. As we overclock the card avg moves up to playable 30 FPS with the old drivers. With the current Omega drivers average moves to good 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 %||BF3||Far Cry 3||Crysis 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 always was curious to map this driver update effect, hope you enjoyed the article, may not be suited for casual Gamers, Hardcore Gamers can add something below in comments to the story.
Also, if you are still facing issues with Graphics Card Performance – I wrote a guide on 9 useful tips to enhance GPU performance for free (read here).
Related Articles – How to Overclock AMD or Nvidia Card the Right Way.