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The release notes for driver 296.10 mentioned that the driver "is a recommended upgrade for all GeForce users, especially those playing the latest hot PC games like....." and then it mentioned "Blacklight: Retribution", said the driver boosted its performance up to 1.8x, and I was wondering what the game was because I've never heard of it so I had to check it out. It's kind of a pleasant surprise. It's a first-person-shooter type game along the lines of Call of Duty and Halo and Unreal Tournament and runs on the Unreal engine. The most interesting thing that makes it stand out from those other games is that you can play it in DirectX 11 with Extreme Tessellation and with the MLAA (Morphological Anti-aliasing) built into the game and the MLAA seems to perform just as well for NVidia cards as NVidia's FXAA. I did not expect to see those graphics features perform so well in a fast-paced shooter game. Drivers have come a long way. Blacklight Retribution is in Open Beta at this time and has been for a couple of weeks. It's free, runs well, and it's interesting. The release date of the finished game is April 3, 2012. You can check out the game info and grab it over here: http://blacklight.perfectworld.com/
NVidia WHQL driver 296.10 was released today over on the NVidia site. Link: http://www.nvidia.com/Download/Find.aspx?lang=en-us GeForce.com says that compared to the Windows 8 driver 296.17 the version 296.10 WHQL driver is an equivalent driver, a quick refresh from the recent version GeForce 295.73 drivers, and are a must-have for gamers looking for the best experience in upcoming games like Blacklight: Retribution. Release Highlights: This is the second WHQL-certified driver from the R295 family of drivers (versions 295.xx to 299.xx). This driver is a recommended upgrade for all GeForce users, especially those playing the latest hot PC games like Battlefield 3, Blacklight: Retribution, Diablo III, Mass Effect 3, or The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and more. These drivers come packed with GeForce-exclusive performance and quality enhancements and are Microsoft WHQL-certified. New in Release 296.10 Adds support for the new GeForce GTX 560 SE GPU. Updates PhysX System Software to version 9.12.0213. Boosts SLI performance in the following games: Blacklight: Retribution – up to 1.8x performance increase DiRT 3 – updated DX11 profile to improve menu performance Dishonored Dungeon Defenders F1 2011 – improves performance with game patch 1.2 rFactor 2 [*]Adds 3D Vision support for the following games: Dear Esther – Rated Good Deep Black: Reloaded – Rated 3D Vision Ready [*]Includes numerous bug fixes. Refer to the release notes documentation for more details. Other Details Supports multiple languages and APIs for GPU computing: CUDA C, CUDA C++, CUDA Fortran, OpenCL, DirectCompute, and Microsoft C++ AMP. Supports single GPU and NVIDIA SLI technology on DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 11, and OpenGL, including 3-way SLI, Quad SLI, and SLI support on SLI-certified Intel and AMD motherboards. The following sections list the important changes and the most common issues resolved since version 295.73. This list is only a subset of the total number of changes made in this driver version. The NVIDIA bug number is provided for reference. Fixed Single-GPU Issues ? The NVIDIA Installer attempts to install the driver onto an incorrect or nonexistent hard drive.  ? [Diablo 3 Beta]: The game screen blurs when forcing AA from the NVIDIA Control Panel.  ? [GeForce GTX 560/GTX 550 Ti]: The NVIDIA Control Panel does not update the monitor name when a different monitor is hot?plugged.  ? [GeForce GTX 590] “No NVIDIA High Definition Audio” error occurs with Realtek889 codec.  ? [GeForce GTS 450][sIM2]: Display corruption occurs when entering a house that has a swimming pool.  Fixed Multi-GPU Issues ? [sLI] [GeForce 500/400 series][F1 2011]: Game performance with SLI enabled is lower after the game Patch version 1.02 is applied.  ? [sLI] [GeForce 500 Series][Dirt 3]: The game stutters within the menu and occasionally during a race.  ? [sLI][ GeForce 500 series][Mirror?s Edge]:”Driver not responding” error occurs when playing the game with SLI enabled. ? [sLI][GeForce GTX 580][Metro 2033]: The system hangs when launching the application in DirectX 10/11 mode if both SLI and 3D Vision are enabled.  ? [sLI][GeForce GTX 580][rFactor 2]: The games runs at a low frame rate when SLI is enabled.  ? [sLI] [GeForce GTX 470]: After the driver is instaled, SLI either cannot be enabled or causes screen corruption once it is enabled.  ? [3xSLI] [World of Warcraft:Cataclysm]: The character portrait flickers after loading an instanced map.
The anticipation and hype has been building. NVidia will soon release their next-generation video card code-named Kepler and most likely built-in FXAA will also be released at the same time with it. Recently at the Game Developers Conference they showed off the Samaritan game demo using a model of the Kepler card. They were touting the fact that when they demo'd the game one year ago it took three GTX 580's to run the demo but this time it only takes one Kepler card. But wait a minute. Haven't you heard about optimizing a game engine? Epic, the game developer, has had one whole year to optimize the game engine and that can make a huge difference in game performance. Then there's the FXAA (Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing) built into drivers. It is a post-processing Anti-aliasing technique and much faster than MSAA (Multisample Anti-Aliasing) commonly found in most games. It is of higher-than-usual benefit to the game Samaritan because Samaritan uses a lot more deferred shading than a game usually does. We have recently seen some Heaven benchmarks involving the NVidia 295.18 driver which has the FXAA feature. Tested on Win 7 64-bit with a GTX 580, 4x Anisotropic, Ambient Occlusion off, 1920 x 1080 resolution. Scores - Min FPS - Avg FPS - Max FPS 2331 ----- 46.7 ----- 92.6 ----- 192.2 ---> DX 9, driver 296.10, 4x MSAA 2333 ----- 47.8 ----- 92.6 ----- 192.1 ---> DX 9, driver 295.18, 4x MSAA 2625 ----- 50.3 ---- 104.2 ----- 204.7 ---> DX 9, driver 295.18, FXAA ON 1824 ----- 35.1 ----- 72.4 ----- 169.1 ---> DX 11, Norm Tess, driver 296.10, 4x MSAA 1817 ----- 34.7 ----- 72.1 ----- 169.7 ---> DX 11, Norm Tess, driver 295.18, 4x MSAA 2053 ----- 46.3 ----- 81.5 ----- 181.6 ---> DX 11, Norm Tess, driver 295.18, FXAA ON In DirectX 9 tests the Average FPS is improved by 12.6% when using FXAA rather than 4x MSAA. In DirectX 11 with Normal Tessellation tests the Avg FPS is improved by 13.5% and the Min FPS is improved by a tremendous 33.4%. That's big. So yeah, I think we're going to see the FXAA come with the release of the drivers that come with the release of the Kepler cards. I've seen some mention that the NDA on discussing the card and the driver is off on Thu March 22 and I've seen some mention that NVidia is holding a press conference on Wed Mar 28. There's a little bit of hype in it all but without question we're going to want the end result whatever it is. Screenshot: http://i.imgur.com/s5x3R.jpg FXAA option in the NVidia Control Panel. Note description at the bottom.