Nvidia has released two massive software updates this morning: The GeForce 337.50 beta driver, offering a significant performance boost in DirectX games (anywhere from 5% to 50%), and a new version of the GeForce Experience software suite that debuts Battery Boost (prolonged gaming on Nvidia-powered laptops), and rolls out significant updates to both ShadowPlay and GameStream. Both the beta driver and the new GeForce Experience 2.0 should be available from the Nvidia website at the time of publishing.
GeForce 337.50 beta driver
The new 337.50 beta driver (download link at the end of the story), according to Nvidia, increases single GPU DirectX performance by up to 64% and SLI performance by up to 71%. Unfortunately, Nvidia’s own graphs don’t seem to bear this out. As you’ll see in the graphs below, the actual difference for single-GPU performance appears to be between 5% and 20%. We should stress that this data comes directly from Nvidia, and that we haven’t had the chance to run our own benchmarks — but even if the performance boost is on the low end, 5% from a free driver update is pretty darn good.
Yes, you would be right in thinking that it’s no mere coincidence that Nvidia’s slides focus on Battlefield 4 and Thief — two games with support for AMD’s Mantle.
Nvidia and DirectX 12
As part of the 337.50 beta driver announcement, Nvidia also spoke to journalists about DirectX 12. The company basically reiterated what we already knew: DX12 will be supported by all Maxwell, Kepler, and Fermi GPUs — or, in other words, about 65% of graphics cards currently in circulation.
The diagrams (below) are a bit convoluted, but I think Nvidia’s general gist is that, by the time DX12 launches late next year, it will have a lot more hardware support than AMD’s Mantle. Basically, if you’re currently in the market for a new graphics card, an Nvidia GPU gives you a better chance of taking advantage of these next-generation graphics technologies — or that’s what Nvidia wants you to believe, anyway. For more on this topic, you should read our hardware analyst Joel Hruska’s treatise on how the Nvidia/AMD spat could result in Balkanized gaming.
GeForce Experience, now with Battery Boost and other cool stuff
Also released today is a new version of GeForce Experience 2.0, which is basically the new and shiny version of the Nvidia Control Panel. On laptops, the Experience introduces Battery Boost (which does exactly what you think), and rolls out ShadowPlay (game encoding/uploading to Twitch) and GameStream (streaming games to your Nvidia Shield) to laptop users. With this new version, ShadowPlay can also now capture your entire desktop, which is useful if you play games in windowed mode.
With this new version of GeForce Experience, Nvidia is also trialing the ability to use GameStream to stream your PC games outside of your home — but as the Shield doesn’t have built-in 3G or 4G connectivity, this is probably of fairly limited use.
Head on over to the GeForce Experience website to download the new version — or pick up the GeForce 337.50 beta driver.