RagingCain Investigates GTX 780 TI "End Of Life" Kepler Driver Scaling From 331.93 to 353.38

Do drivers cripple performance?

In a thread posted on our forums and sourced at ByteMeDev.com, RagingCain investigated the effect of Nvidia's driver releases on the performance as measured with 3DMark Fire Strike and Fire Strike Extreme. In total 18 drivers were tested with the GeForce GTX 780 Ti in both single GPU and SLI configuration.

In the conclusive lines RagingCain states: "The transitioning into 35x.xx family has caused a certain amount of performance penalty to some Kepler users, for example a loss of 4.05% in GPU score in Fire Strike, and 3.88% Fire Strike Extreme. A loss though should be read in context. The loss in performance since at least driver 347.25. I don't think there is a huge conspiracy to "withhold" performance as people speculate, but there is enough data to merit a review by nVidia. I don't expect major performance gains any more, now that we are EOL, but we shouldn't be going down in performance in a benchmark that even pre-dates this video card. The best driver currently for Kepler, in terms of 3DMark performance I have tested thus far is 347.25. If you must use a 35x.xx driver, I highly recommend the 350.12 or the 352.86. I have updated the charts and added the actual numbers."

For more information and details on the data-set, check out the thread posted on our forums or the original content at ByteMeDev.com


9

United States RagingCain says:

[SIZE=4]The GTX 780 TI & SLI - End of Life - Performance Analysis[/SIZE]

The point of this post / thread was to display some hard facts and anecdotal experiences with the GTX 780 Ti SLI.

[SIZE=4]Kepler Degradation In Performance:[/SIZE]
For something that could be tested, it seems like a lot of people have not taken the time, an arduous and tedious amount of time, to produce some tangible data regarding Kepler degradation in performance. Popular opinion even states that the last viable driver was 347.88. Well I am here to tell that I have data that may prove otherwise.

I am going to let you guys make your own conclusion, I have no interest in persuading opinion towards nVidia or even against nVidia. There are somethings that I feel should be corrected, because when people have all the facts, they can make informed opinions themselves.

My motivation is just help inform users and I feel obliged to do the testing since I own the two cards.

The list of drivers I have tested:
[LIST]
332.21
335.23
340.52
344.75
347.09
347.52
350.12
353.06
353.38
[/LIST]

Benchmark:
[LIST]
3DMark Fire Strike Extreme
[/LIST]

System Setup:



[SIZE=4]Overclocking Notes:[/SIZE]
[LIST]
002 - Didn't even make past the loading screen. No overclock, just a DirectX crash. PowerLimit seems to trigger it. Reset PowerLimit to default.
004 - http://www.3dmark.com/3dm/7484455?
006 - http://www.3dmark.com/3dm/7484642?
008 - http://www.3dmark.com/3dm/7484801?
010 - http://www.3dmark.com/3dm/7484960?
012 - Switched PrecisionX. Driver Crash.
014 - http://www.3dmark.com/3dm/7485797?
016 - http://www.3dmark.com/3dm/7486063?
018 - http://www.3dmark.com/3dm/7486237?
I expect new title support, but I don't expect the same level of focus on my GPU anymore.
[/LIST]

B.) Maxwell architecture is new.
[LIST]
Most claims that the GTX 780 Ti used to beat the GTX 980 / 970 are made based on launch reviews. Older drivers were used.
Benchmarks and titles where Tessellation are heavily taxed, Maxwell has 3x tessellation performance as Kepler.
AMD has one architecture to support. Optimizations for the biggest GCN card trickle all the way down to the smallest GCN card, or even older cards.
All architectures mature with driver releases. Even GCN will be tapped out at some point in the future.
[/LIST]

D.) The transition to the 35x.xx family has left us a little down in terms of performance.
[LIST]
They could have done a better job in merging the branch changes in the drivers.
[/LIST]

E.) All The Console Ports Have Been Virtually Terrible
[LIST]
Assassin’s Creed Unity – Appalling and terrifying release.
VRAM requirements have tripled over night with no perceivable increase in image quality.
Newer games simply will have a few more low level AMD optimizations at launch than nVidia ones.
[/LIST]

[SIZE=4]Conclusion (as of 7/3/2015):[/SIZE]
The transitioning into 35x.xx family has caused a certain amount of performance penalty to some Kepler users, for example a loss of 4.05% in GPU score in Fire Strike, and 3.88% Fire Strike Extreme. A loss though should be read in context. The loss in performance since at least driver 347.25. I don't think there is a huge conspiracy to "withhold" performance as people speculate, but there is enough data to merit a review by nVidia. I don't expect major performance gains any more, now that we are EOL, but we shouldn't be going down in performance in a benchmark that even pre-dates this video card.

The best driver currently for Kepler, in terms of 3DMark performance I have tested thus far is 347.25. If you must use a 35x.xx driver, I highly recommend the 350.12 or the 352.86. I have updated the charts and added the actual numbers.

Updated to Conclusion:
The numbers since 340.52 only show a lost of 3.96% loss of performance in the GPU score, or 2.09% in overall score in Fire Strike. The latest hotfix driver 353.38 seems to be that nVidia is taking the issues serious and managed to resolve not only the performance issues but the vast majority of TDR crashing that was occurring.

[SIZE=3]Also note: The 353.30 is the worst driver I have ever used from nVidia and I have had Quad SLI and GTX 590s before.[/SIZE]

Anecdotal Comments:
I have greatly enjoyed my time with the GTX 780 Tis, even though they are not good overclockers. Out of all my nVidia experiences, they have been my favorite cards. nVidia driver stability has been usually good for me, that being said, the 353.30 is the worst driver I have ever used from nVidia and I have had Quad SLI and GTX 590s before.

I have been using the 780 Tis since November 2013. I did my testing in my configuration because this has been my experience with Kepler GPUs in SLI. To me there hasn’t been a mass reduction in performance, I have never felt this crushing ominous crippling of performance that so many people are claiming is happening. I don’t doubt there are issues, issues which seem to vary based on each user’s configuration (including driver issues) but as far as I can tell no one has taken the time to prove many of these claims. I recommend everyone, if they can, to use the 347.25 driver, it is a solid performer and very stable. Maxwell also predates this driver which refutes the whole “nerfing Kepler to make Maxwell shine” theory. Looking at the trend up to the 347.25 driver, performance has been consistent. I personally do not have the TDR bug in Windows 8.1, I did have it in Windows 10, it does look like they are working on a fix finally though.

The tests here are for a narrow premise and not all encompassing, I realize that. Again the point of this article is encourage neutral fact based discussion but also provide a reference to repeatable and reproducible tests. All my test results are under the user RagingCain at 3DMark Results, if you want/need that extra proof.

[SIZE=4]My Driver Recommendations In Order[/SIZE]
[LIST]
340.52 (For Non-SLI) – Performs slightly better in single GPU setups than 347.25, but not SLI.
350.12 – Had difficulties using Shadowplay.
[/LIST]

[SIZE=4]Article Source: ByteMeDev.com[/SIZE]

[SIZE=4]Coming Up Next
Grand Theft Auto V when they fix the latest performance issues.[/SIZE]

France dx4picco says:

wow crazy tests made here, thanks for sharing

Belgium leeghoofd says:

amazing work man, respect

Austria basco says:

thanks for taking the time to do this awsome test

Belgium Massman says:

Wow, this is great testing. I'll put this up on the front page once I get through all the data you posted! Awesome stuff!

Belgium Massman says:

Eteknix did a review of the GCN driver improvements a while back, comparing the performance of the release driver (11.12) and the at that moment latest driver (14.7) using the Radeon HD 7950. In Fire Strike the score went up from 5146 to 6731 points. That's crazy performance increase just with software. I feel like AMD isn't promoting this as much as they could, really. Source: http://www.eteknix.com/examining-amds-driver-progress-since-launch-drivers-r9-290x-hd-7970/3/

Indonesia Lucky_n00b says:

Inspiring and detailed work, well done RagingCain :D
Driver testing was usually forgotten, but indeed there's some interesting driver release lately, like the AMD Catalyst 15.7(not the 15.7.1) which during my test gives more performance to the discrete graphics, but lowers the game FPS on the APU :p.
I suppose I'll test drivers more often :)

Canada Trouffman says:

Impressive work !

United States RagingCain says:

Thanks guys!

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