NVIDIA GeForce 306.23 WHQL Drivers: An Essential Upgrade For Every GeForce GTX User

Drivers

The new NVIDIA GeForce 306.23 WHQL drivers are now available to download. An essential upgrade for every GeForce GTX user, the GeForce 306.23 WHQL drivers enable high-quality TXAA anti-aliasing on GTX 600 Series GPUs, improve game performance by up to 17% on all GeForce 400, 500, and 600 Series GPUs, enhance seven top titles with NVIDIA Control Panel MSAA and Ambient Occlusion profiles, improve the overall user experience for all GPU users, and add SLI and 3D Vision profiles for new releases and upcoming titles, including Borderlands 2, Darksiders 2, Dishonored, End of Nations, F1 2012, Guild Wars 2, Max Payne 3, Orcs Must Die! 2, PlanetSide 2, Sleeping Dogs, The Secret World, The Walking Dead, Torchlight II, and World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria.

Furthermore, the GeForce 306.23 WHQL drivers ensure maximum GPU compatibility in the highly-anticipated Borderlands 2, and will update your PhysX software to version 9.12.0604, maximizing performance when the impressive hardware-accelerated PhysX effects are enabled. Similarly, the GeForce 306.23 WHQL drivers ensure maximum compatibility in World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, and maximize performance when utilizing immersive multi-monitor display modes.

Last but not least, the GeForce 306.23 WHQL drivers are a required download if you're intending to upgrade to a brand new GeForce GTX 660 or 650, which are detailed in depth in our launch article. There, you'll also find DIY system builds and recommended accessories that'll spice up your gaming life.

You can download the GeForce 306.23 WHQL drivers with one click from the GeForce.com homepage; Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 8 packages are available for desktop systems, and for notebooks there are Windows 7 and Windows 8 Verde downloads that cover all products, including the GeForce GTX 680M. If you have any feedback or comments, please drop us a note via the comments section or use the NVIDIA Display Driver Feedback Form.

For further details about the many additions and enhancements included with the GeForce 306.23 WHQL drivers, read on.

TXAA Anti-Aliasing

For years, Multisample Anti-Aliasing (MSAA) has been the de facto technique for removing jagged edges in games, but with the advancement of other features, such as deferred rendering, MSAA’s performance cost has increased. Furthermore, given its limited sample size, MSAA is incapable of tackling temporal aliasing, observed as shimmering on fine geometry and transparent textures, such as fences and corrugated doors when the camera is motion.

Recently, an alternate form of anti-aliasing called FXAA has become popular. A post-process anti-aliasing technique with minimal performance impact, FXAA is supported in many games, such as Batman: Arkham City and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and can also be applied to any title via the NVIDIA Control Panel. Detecting edges in a scene and smoothing them out via a post-process pixel shader, this technique has a minimal performance impact, typically in the range of 3-5%, compared to MSAA’s 40% or more. Unfortunately, FXAA also suffers from temporal aliasing, and may not anti-alias all edges in a scene.

With the launch of a recent update for The Secret World, gamers can now leverage TXAA, a new super high-quality anti-aliasing technique introduced alongside the latest Kepler GPUs. Designed specifically to reduce temporal aliasing, TXAA is a combination of hardware anti-aliasing, custom anti-aliasing resolves, and a temporal filter. To filter pixels, TXAA uses a contribution of samples both inside and outside of the pixel in conjunction with samples from prior frames to offer the highest quality filtering possible. In motion, TXAA approaches the quality of other high-end, professional-grade anti-aliasing algorithms, though it should be noted that the higher-quality filtering used by TXAA does result in a softer static image compared to the lower-quality filtering of traditional MSAA.

Using hardware MSAA in conjunction with the aforementioned temporal filter, TXAA provides a substantially higher level of fidelity, especially so in motion, for little extra in the way of performance compared to MSAA. In contrast to methods like FXAA, which attempt to maximize fidelity for a minimal performance cost, TXAA is an ultra-high-end option for gamers looking for the highest possible image quality to make games such as The Secret World look their absolute best.

As TXAA is best shown in motion we’ve created a HD comparison video to exemplify its benefits (click the arrows to view in fullscreen):

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The Secret World Tech Demo

To make use of TXAA Anti-Aliasing Secret World players must use the the latest drivers and have a Kepler-based, GeForce GTX 600 Series graphics card in their system.

For further information about TXAA in The Secret World please check out our dedicated article, and for info on future games with TXAA support stay tuned to GeForce.com.

Performance Improvements

The GeForce 304.48 beta drivers introduced over a dozen performance optimizations that gave all GeForce 400, 500, and 600 Series users faster frame rates in some of the most popular titles. With the launch of the GeForce 306.23 WHQL drivers, these optimizations are now available in a WHQL-certified package.

Comparing performance to that of the last WHQL driver, 301.42, we measured gains on the GeForce GTX 680 of up to 17.6% in Batman: Arkham City, 12.4% in Dragon Age 2, 4% in Lost Planet 2, and 9.8% in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat.

Detail Settings & Results:

  • Batman: Arkham City: 2560x1600, Very High detail level, Tessellation High, PhysX Off, FXAA Very High. Performance increased by 17.6% (17.1% with Tessellation and PhysX disabled, 9.7% with PhysX High, and 7.5% with both Tessellation High and PhysX High enabled simultaneously).
  • Dragon Age 2: 2560x1600, max settings, 4xMSAA anti-aliasing. Performance increased by 12.4%.
  • Lost Planet 2: 1920x1080, DirectX 11, max settings, 4xMSAA anti-aliasing. Performance increased by 4%.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat: 2560x1600, DirectX 11, Extreme settings, 4xMSAA anti-aliasing. Performance increased by 9.6%, and by 9.8% when anti-aliasing was disabled.

Using a second GTX 680 in SLI, we measured gains of up to 5.8% in Batman: Arkham City, 15% in Dragon Age 2, and 6.4% in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat.

Detail Settings & Results:

  • Batman: Arkham City: 2560x1600, Very High detail level, Tessellation High, PhysX Off, FXAA Very High. Performance increased by 5.9% (5.5% with Tessellation and PhysX disabled, 2.4% with PhysX High when using FXAA Very High, 4.3% with PhysX High when using 4xMSAA, and 4% with Tessellation High, PhysX High and FXAA Very High enabled simultaneously).
  • Dragon Age 2: 2560x1600, max settings, 4xMSAA anti-aliasing. Performance increased by 12.2%, and by 15% when anti-aliasing was disabled.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat: 2560x1600, DirectX 11, Extreme settings, 4xMSAA anti-aliasing. Performance increased by 6%, and by 6.4% when anti-aliasing was disabled.

On the GTX 560, we measured gains of up to 14% in Batman: Arkham City, 5.5% in Dragon Age 2, and 6.7% in Lost Planet 2.

Detail Settings & Results:

  • Batman: Arkham City: 2560x1600, Very High detail level, Tessellation Off, PhysX Off, FXAA Very High. Performance increased by 14% (12% with Tessellation High, 8% with PhysX High, and 10.1% with both enabled simultaneously).
  • Dragon Age 2: 1920x1080, max settings, no anti-aliasing. Performance increased by 2.8%, and by 5.5% at 2560x1600, using max settings and 4xMSAA anti-aliasing.
  • Lost Planet 2: 1920x1080, DirectX 11, max settings, no anti-aliasing. Performance increased by 6.7%.

Using a second GTX 560 in SLI, we measured gains of up to 11.9% in Batman: Arkham Asylum, 5.2% in Battlefield 3, 6.1% in Dragon Age 2, 4% in Lost Planet 2, 5.3% in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat, and 7.9% in The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.

Detail Settings & Results:

  • Batman: Arkham City: 2560x1600, Very High detail level, Tessellation High, PhysX Off, 4xMSAA. Performance increased by 11.9% (10.8% without Tessellation or PhysX, 4% with PhysX High, and 5% with both PhysX High and Tessellation High enabled).
  • Battlefield 3: 1920x1080, Ultra detail level, 4xMSAA anti-aliasing. Performance increased by 5.2%.
  • Dragon Age 2: 2560x1600, max settings, 4xMSAA anti-aliasing. Performance increased by 6.1%, and by 6.4% when anti-aliasing was disabled.
  • Lost Planet 2: 1920x1080, DirectX 11, max settings, 4xMSAA anti-aliasing. Performance increased by 4%.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat: 2560x1600, DirectX 11, Extreme settings, 4xMSAA anti-aliasing. Performance increased by 5.3%.
  • The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings: 1920x1080, max settings, Ubersampling Off, Anti-Aliasing On. Performance increased by 6.8%, and by 7.9% when anti-aliasing was disabled.

In addition to improving performance in the aforementioned titles, a bug introduced by a Shogun 2: Total War update, which reduced frame rates by up to 60%, has been fixed. If you were previously struggling for performance jump back in to Creative Assembly’s strategic masterpiece and give the game’s engrossing campaign and multiplayer mode another shot.

NVIDIA Control Panel Game Enhancements

The GeForce 306.23 WHQL drivers include a number of NVIDIA Control Panel enhancements that allow you to further increase in-game fidelity in games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Darksiders 2, Diablo III, and MechWarrior Online:

  • Added NVIDIA Control Panel ambient occlusion support to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
  • Added NVIDIA Control Panel ambient occlusion support and MSAA Anti-Aliasing support to Darksiders 2.
  • Added NVIDIA Control Panel antialiasing support to Diablo III.
  • Added NVIDIA Control Panel antialiasing support to L.A. Noire.
  • Added NVIDIA Control Panel ambient occlusion support to MechWarrior Online.
  • Added NVIDIA Control Panel antialiasing support to Rayman Origins.
  • Added NVIDIA Control Panel ambient occlusion support to Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Each enhancement is easily applied via the respective game's profile in the "Manage 3D Settings" section of the NVIDIA Control Panel. Simply select the desired values for "Ambient Occlusion", "Antialiasing - Mode", and "Antialiasing - Setting", and click "Apply" before launching the game and basking in the jaggie-free geometry and accurately-shadowed surroundings.

User Experience Enhancements

The reaction to NVIDIA Control Panel FXAA has been fantastic. Gamers are enjoying jaggie-free games without the massive performance impact of MSAA, and are taking advantage of the feature in games that lack anti-aliasing options. However, when users enabled FXAA globally they found that certain applications, like Windows Live Mail, were being anti-aliased also, making text unreadable. To rectify this issue we are now disabling FXAA’s use in the programs identified, but if there are more that need blocking do let us know and we’ll add them to the exclusion list.

On the GeForce GTX 670, 680 and 690, some users identified an occasional micro-stutter when gaming with VSync or Adaptive VSync enabled. For most this wasn’t noticeable, but we take any issue that detracts from a user’s enjoyment of our products very seriously, and have introduced a fix that will improve the smoothness of VSync gaming.

When using GeForce 3xx drivers and factory-overclocked graphics cards from our partners, some users received poor levels of performance, a result of the graphics card’s clock speed being reduced to idle levels. As with the VSync issue above, this problem is also rectified by the new GeForce 306.23 WHQL drivers.

New & Updated SLI Profiles

As always, our new GeForce driver includes new and updated profiles for today’s top titles, increasing performance and unleashing the full power of SLI systems. Included in today's bumper crop of profiles is full support for Borderlands 2, End of Nations, F1 2012, PlanetSide 2, Torchlight II, and World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, top titles releasing in the coming days and weeks. Recently-released games aren't neglected either, as we have profiles for Darksiders 2, Guild Wars 2, Orcs Must Die! 2, Sleeping Dogs, The Secret World, and Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Future Soldier. Each profile was released before or at launch of each respective game via the NVIDIA Update application, and now they're part of the driver download, ensuring all users can make the most of their SLI systems.

  • Alan Wake's American Nightmare
  • Borderlands 2
  • Darksiders 2
  • End of Nations
  • F1 2011
  • F1 2012
  • Final Fantasy XIV
  • Guild Wars 2 (Guild Wars 2 is heavily CPU-bound, which may result in negative scaling on some systems. If this occurs please disable SLI usage in Guild Wars 2 via the NVIDIA Control Panel game profile. Advanced users may wish to consider CPU overclocking to help alleviate the issue, though this is undertaken at their own risk.)
  • Nexuiz
  • Orcs Must Die! 2
  • PlanetSide 2
  • Saints Row: The Third
  • Shogun 2: Total War
  • Sleeping Dogs
  • Spec Ops: The Line
  • The Secret World
  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Future Soldier
  • Torchlight II
  • Tornado Force
  • Tribes: Ascend
  • World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

New & Updated 3D Vision Profiles

New and updated 3D Vision profiles are also included in the GeForce 306.23 WHQL drivers, helping you get the best possible experience when playing in stereoscopic 3D.

  • A New Dawn – Rated Fair
  • Alan Wake's American Nightmare – Rated Not Recommended
  • All Zombies Must Die! Scorepocalypse – Rated Good
  • ARMA 2: Operation Arrowhead – Rated Fair
  • Bang Bang Racing – Rated Excellent
  • Brave – Rated 3D Vision Ready
  • Depth Hunter – Updated rating to 3D Vision Ready
  • Devil May Cry 4 - Rated Fair
  • Dishonored – Rated Good
  • End of Nations – Rated Good
  • London 2012 The Official Video Game – Rated Fair
  • Mad Doc Jr.'s Doom Rails – Rated Excellent
  • Mass Effect 3 – Updated in-game compatibility message and profile to be more compatible with community 3D mods
  • Max Payne 3 – Updated rating to Excellent and updated in-game compatibility message to inform players to use DirectX 11, to disable MSAA and use FXAA Very High instead, and to use SSAO instead of HDAO.
  • Raiderz – Rated Fair
  • Roller Coaster Rampage – Rated 3D Vision Ready
  • SCANIA Truck Driving Simulator – Rated Fair
  • Street Fighter X Tekken – Rated 3D Vision Ready
  • Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends – Rated Good
  • The Secret World – Rated Good
  • The Walking Dead – Rated Good
  • Tiger Woods PGA 12: The Masters – Rated Good
  • Tribes: Ascend – Rated Fair
  • World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria – Rated Excellent

You can download the GeForce 306.23 WHQL drivers with one click from the GeForce.com homepage. If you have any feedback or comments, please drop us a note below or use the NVIDIA Display Driver Feedback Form.

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