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Appeared on: 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 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:

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: 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: 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: 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.

New & Updated 3D Vision Profiles

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

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

Fixed Single-GPU Fixes Fixed Multi-GPU Issues

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