NVIDIA 260.63 Beta Driver Performance Review

Author: Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig
Date: September 14, 2010
Product Name: NVIDIA 260.63 Beta Driver
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A New Installer & More Features

In the past, NVIDIA’s executable installer was quite basic. It extracted the files, automatically installed the driver components onto your system and finally prompted a reboot. Straightforward was the name of the game but as the features of NVIDIA’s cards have expanded the old “one size fits all” installation method just wasn’t enough. This is simply because the driver stack included quite a few more items along with an HDMI audio driver and PhysX system software.

It all starts and ends with the new driver front end which finally allows for the installation of individual components. The splash screen looks a lot like ATI’s own Catalyst Install Manager with separate selection boxes to allow for the removal or addition of items. As we have experienced with ATI, we recommend you only install the components you need in order to simplify uninstallation and avoid potential conflicts should they arise.

In addition to giving the user more control over exactly what is installed, this new process can drastically cut down on the time it takes to install the NVIDIA drivers. It can also come in handy for those of you who use modified HDMI or PhysX drivers as you can choose to avoid installing them over your current versions. 3D Vision is included which is a breath of fresh air since before this you needed to find a particular set of drivers on the NVIDIA site to ensure the latest profiles were uploaded. Now, they’re part of the main driver package and don’t need to be installed if you don’t need them.

Finally, there is a handy little box at the bottom of the screen that allows a clean install to be performed. This will uninstall every last portion of the previous drivers prior to installing the 260-series stack. An option such as this could come in handy if you have seriously messed up some settings and can’t seem to restore everything to their factory default values.

There are some bones thrown to Surround users as well and they happen to address some of the concerns we brought up in our original review of the technology. Gone is the clunky backwards and forwards screen switching in the NVIDIA control panel to figure out which resolutions were created when bezel correction is enabled. Now, all of the resolutions are clearly laid out in one screen with pictograms.

The 260.63 beta drivers also bring additional features to the 400-series GPUs. Support for 3D Blu-ray through the HDMI 1.4 connector on the GTX 460 and lower end cards and lossless HD audio playback have finally been added. Naturally, you will need supporting software like Powerlink’s newest PowerDVD to use these

Performance figures above are based upon testing @ 1920 x 1200 @ 4xAA

NVIDIA promises some far-reaching performance improvements with these new drivers but most of them seem geared towards the GTX 460 and slightly higher resolutions as the higher end cards received gradual tweaks over the last few months. Could these benefits cascade down into games not listed? We’re about to find out.

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