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What Drives You? - Investigating Graphics Card Driver Upgrades
By Kenny Yeo
Category : Graphics
Published by Vijay Anand on Sunday, 5th July, 2009

Drivers 101

What are drivers? In the simplest terms, drivers are software that tells your system how to utilize hardware. Components and peripherals such as your graphics cards, printers, keyboard and mouse all require drivers to operate correctly. Without the right drivers, the hardware won't perform at its optimum level or wouldn't even work properly.

In the realm of graphics cards, new drivers from ATI and NVIDIA are released nearly every month. And if you weren't a hardcore gamer or hardware enthusiast, you can be forgiven for wondering why. Typically, these new driver releases bring about improved compatibility with the various PC hardware configurations and software (such as improved support for running multi-GPU configurations). Occasionally, they even improve performance in games and bring about added features.

In the case of NVIDIA, their ForceWare 180 drivers were noteworthy because it added many new features for their cards such as multi-monitor support for SLI configurations, DisplayPort support and hardware video transcoding via CUDA. Additionally, it also brought about support for PhysX to its older GeForce 8 and 9 graphics cards.

ATI's Catalyst and NVIDIA's ForceWare driver packs are released nearly every month, with each new revision promising better overall performance.

Today, we are going to take a closer look at just how beneficial new drivers are. We are going to see what kind of performance gains can be had just by merely updating drivers. Of course, there are limitations to what updated drivers can do. After all, they are not miracle pills. What we hope to see, however, are some increases in performance and efficiency. Perhaps after this, you'll appreciate the importance of updating your graphics card drivers regularly.

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