Behind the scenes here, we've been hearing whispers about a major driver update from Nvidia for quite some time now. These milestone updates come along every so often from each of the major GPU makers, bringing with them some notable performance increases and interface tweaks. AMD saw some nice gains in its drivers not long ago, and now it's Nvidia's turn. A first beta version of the Release 270 GeForce drivers is now available via the green team web site. Here's a direct link to the page for the Win7 64-bit version, and the 32-bit version is available right here.
Nvidia cites a number of (mostly) recent games as beneficiaries of performance increases in Release 270, including Call of Duty: Black Ops, Civ V, and benchmarking favorite Far Cry 2. The claimed increases range from 4-11% on the GeForce GTX 580 and from 4-19% on the GTX 560 Ti, and the claims apply in varying measure to both single-card and SLI configs.
More eye-popping are the numbers for Dragon Age 2, where Nvidia apparently had ample room for improvement. A single GTX 560 Ti is cited as "up to 241%" faster, while a pair in SLI can reach 461% faster. The GTX 580 benefits even more, with single-card gains of 326% and dual-card improvements of 516%. Sounds like some basic problems were worked out, no?
Release 270 also introduces a new feature called Nvidia Update, which will optionally harangue you to update your video drivers whenever a new revision is released. One may choose one's preferred level of nagging, nagging interval, and whether or not beta drivers should be included in the onslaught. Once you hear of the new drivers, you'll still have to download them via Nvidia's website and do the Windows installer dance, as always. True auto-updates are not one of Release 270's superpowers, sadly.
3D Vision, on the other hand... That particular ability is enhanced in Release 270 in several ways, including triple-display 3D Vision Surround frame rate gains of "up to 350%" and improvements of 1.2-8.3 times the prior release in select shooters (mostly Valve Source engine games, looks like) when the 3D Vison substitute crosshair is enabled. 3D Vision can now coexist with Windows Aero, so you can get that special feeling of nausea right on the Windows desktop, too.
There are a host of other improvements related to 3D Vision, including more game profiles, embedded drivers for the IR emitter that controls the glasses, and expanded support for HDMI 1.4 displays.
We're hoping to check out Release 270's performance improvements for ourselves. If you're a GeForce owner, you may want to do the same.