NVIDIA GeForce 378.78 Performance Driver Follow-Up

We will take the new NVIDIA GeForce 378.78 performance driver and add it to our NVIDIA Video Card Driver Performance Review graphs to see if this driver has improved performance. NVIDIA has made some very bold claims lately, so let's see if those come through as true gaming advantages.


In early February of this year we published a very in-depth evaluation of NVIDIA driver performance improvements over time in ten games. Our NVIDIA Video Card Driver Performance Review was to show if by how much drivers have improved video card performance in games spanning both Maxwell and Pascal GPUs.

We used ten games both older, and newer, mostly in DX11 but a couple in DX12 and in Vulkan. The intent was to offer a mix of games over the course of each video cards lifetime of driver updates. Our end conclusion was that for the most part driver gains in performance were very small and insignificant to the gameplay experience. Only in some specific DX12 or Vulkan titles were there the largest impact on performance experienced.

Today’s follow-up evaluation is to add one more driver set to the comparison. We are going to update our graphs with the brand new GeForce 378.78 WHQL driver, released on March 9th which specifically is described as a performance enhancing driver for Pascal GPUs.

The New GeForce 378.78 WHQL Game Ready Driver

Way back in February we got word of a new driver NVIDIA was planning that would contain some supposedly large performance improvements. We later found out this driver was going to be the Game Ready GeForce 378.78 driver releasing alongside the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti video card. In our launch evaluation of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti we used this very driver, GeForce 378.78 provided by NVIDIA. On March 9th this driver was made public, and WHQL certified.

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In the email from NVIDIA to the press you can see the specified improvements.

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You can also see all the new improvements from the actual Driver Release Notes. The specific update specifies DirectX 12 optimizations which provide additional performance increases for a variety of titles.

What This Evaluation Is Specifically Testing

We are going to spell this out very plainly, because we feel there may be some misunderstandings if we do not. We are certainly aware the driver update specifically mentions that performance has been improved in DirectX 12 games with this performance driver.

The goal of this specific evaluation is simply to follow-up from our initial driver evaluation we performed back in February. We are taking the exact same games, the same setup, the same video card (GeForce GTX 1080) and just adding on this new driver to the graphs.

The goal is to simply find out if there are any performance differences at all with this new driver compared to the previous driver in the games we already tested and used in our driver evaluation. Those games are a mix of older games, DX11 games, and a couple of DX12 games.

The main focus on this is not DX12 today, but rather to see if this new "Performance Driver" has helped any at all in any situation of old game, DX11 game or the DX12 games we used previously. It is strictly that, a test to find out if this driver has improved since the last one in other ways than simply DX12 and to provide a follow-up to our first driver article.

We fully understand there are many DirectX 12 games or games with DirectX 12 render paths that need to be re-evaluated under this new driver. We are planning just that in the future. In the future, at some point, we are going to go back through all the games with a DirectX 12 API path and re-evaluate DX12 versus DX11 performance in them using this newer performance driver. That will be a very fun and comprehensive evaluation to finally put the nail in the coffin on whether DX12 provides a performance impact in those games now.

That will be an upcoming article, planned for the future, it’s on the board but an exact ETA we do not have just yet, but it will come in time. Therefore, look forward to that re-evaluation of DX12 API games with this (or newer) driver performance. For now, today’s evaluation is just to see where this driver stands in relation to what we’ve already tested in terms of driver over time in January as a quick follow-up, nothing more. The format is staying the same from the original driver evaluation, we are using the same graphs and performance we are just adding one more bar to the graph with the new driver at the top.