NVIDIA GeForce 295.73 WHQL Drivers Released


February 21st, 2012

By Andrew Burnes

The new NVIDIA GeForce 295.73 WHQL drivers are now available to download. Recommended for all GeForce users, these drivers include the numerous game-changing, NVIDIA-exclusive improvements that have been introduced with our recent betas, plus a few other treats too.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Bethesda Softworks’ role-playing action game is Steam’s fastest selling and the most popular game ever, boasting a record-breaking concurrent user count that bested even Valve’s venerable titles. With PC players spending an incredible 75 hours in the world of Skyrim, on average, we’ve worked hard to enhance the experience for our users.

In December, the 290.53 beta driver introduced our first performance optimizations, helping improve frame rates by about 19% in Skyrim’s many shadowy dungeons, and 2.8% in its wide-open outdoor environments. For 295.73 we’ve delved back into our driver’s code and coaxed out even more performance, which should be especially helpful for GeForce GTX 560 and 560 Ti users who wish to increase the game’s graphics settings, make use of Bethesda’s high resolution texture pack, and install user-made mods from the Skyrim Workshop.

In the scene tested GTX 560 performance increased by an amazing 44.5%, allowing the mid-range card to make full use of Skyrim’s Ultra graphics options (285.62’s 27.6 frames per second rendered Ultra unplayable in indoor locations). In the other results, GTX 560 SLI performance is up 44.1%, GTX 580 performance by 36%, and GTX 580 SLI performance by 17.3%.

Outdoor performance tends to be CPU bound on higher end configs, though on the GTX 560 we did register a 16.2% improvement.

In November, we released the 290.36 beta driver, boasting exclusive GeForce-only Ambient Occlusion support, enhancing the shadowing of Skyrim’s immersive world. Users loved the addition, and following feedback we revamped the implementation in 290.53 beta, reducing the frame rate impact and improving the fidelity of the new shadows. With release 295.73, these enhancements are now brought to an official WHQL driver.

Click to view an interactive comparison.

To enable this must-have effect open your NVIDIA Control Panel, either via the desktop or the tray icon, and follow the steps below:

  1. Browse to 'Manage 3D Settings' and select 'Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim' in the drop-down. If you can't see it in the list, untick the 'Show only programs found on this computer' box and try again.
  2. Set the 'Ambient Occlusion' option to Performance or Quality.
  3. Click the Apply button.

And finally, for 3D Vision users there’s a new 3D crosshair that better matches the game’s default 2D crosshair, helping improve the 3D Vision experience. To enable it, use the Ctrl+F12 3D crosshair shortcut in-game, and then disable Skyrim's 2D crosshair in the Settings menu.

Diablo III Beta

If you’re one of the lucky hundred thousand players currently enjoying the Diablo III beta you’ll be pleased to hear that your GeForce graphics card can now be leveraged to add the same immersive Ambient Occlusion shadowing to Blizzard’s role-playing action game, as shown in the comparison image below.

Click to view an interactive comparison.

To enable Ambient Occlusion in the beta, open the NVIDIA Control Panel, browse to ‘Manage 3D Settings,’ locate the Diablo III profile in the list, and select one of the Ambient Occlusion quality settings before clicking ‘Apply'.

Mass Effect 3

The Mass Effect 3 demo made a big splash last week, arriving with a lengthy slice of single-player action and an extremely addictive multiplayer mode that’s been sampled by over 250,000 PC gamers to date.

Our release-day article revealed that the demo performs exceptionally well even on prior generation single-GPU solutions, and now, with the release of the 295.73 WHQL driver, the demo can make full use of SLI setups also, offering up to twice the performance.

At 1920x1080 SLI frame rates increased by 91.63% on the GTX 560, and 90% on the GTX 570. At 2560x1440, SLI frame rates increased by an astonishing 100.00% on the GTX 560, and 95.04% on the GTX 570.

To see the benefit of SLI scaling above your monitor's refresh rate, Mass Effect 3's Vertical Synchronization must be disabled. A quick and easy tweak, simply open C:\Users\YourUsername\Documents\BioWare\Mass Effect 3 Demo\BIOGame\Config\GamerSettings.ini, and add useVsync=False and SmoothFramerate=False to the bottom of the [SystemSettings] section, each on separate lines. Save the file and SLI will now work to its full potential. The final version of the game, due out March 6th, will benefit from SLI also - just modify the GamerSettings.ini file located in C:\Users\YourUsername\Documents\BioWare\Mass Effect 3\BIOGame\Config\ in the same manner.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Activision’s Modern Warfare 3 was the best-selling game of 2011, and it too benefits from the addition of GeForce-exclusive Ambient Occlusion support.

Click to view an interactive comparison.

As with Skyrim and Diablo III, open the NVIDIA Control Panel, browse to ‘Manage 3D Settings,’ locate the Modern Warfare 3 profile in the list, and select one of the Ambient Occlusion quality settings before hitting ‘Apply'.

New SLI Profiles

Our engineers continue to create and improve SLI and 3D Vision profiles for the latest games each and every day. Take a look below at the latest additions, and ensure that you enable automatic profile acquisition in NVIDIA Update to receive the latest enhancements as soon as they're released.

  • 7554
  • Afterfall: InSanity
  • ArcheAge
  • Core Blaze
  • F1 2011
  • Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
  • Mass Effect 3
  • Oil Rush
  • Red Faction: Armageddon
  • The Darkness II
  • Trine 2
  • WRC 2: FIA World Rally Championship 2011

New & Updated 3D Vision Profiles

  • Afterfall: Insanity – Rated Fair
  • Alan Wake - Rated Poor
  • ANNO 2070 - Rated Not Recommended
  • Apache: Air Assault – Rated Fair
  • Black Prophecy – Rated Not Recommended
  • Chaos Online – Rated Fair
  • Choplifter HD - Rated Good
  • Cities XL 2012 - Rated Good
  • Da Vinci Online – Rated Fair
  • Dino D-Day - Rated Good
  • DotA 2 – Rating upgraded to Fair
  • Dungeon and Dragons: Daggerdale – Rated Fair
  • Edge - Rated Excellent
  • Ferrari Project – Rated Not Recommended
  • Fractal – Rated Excellent
  • FreeStyle 2 – Rated Good
  • Insane 2 - Rated Excellent
  • King Arthur II – Rated Not Recommended
  • Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning – Rated Fair
  • Kong Fu Ying Xiong – Rated Fair
  • Love Beat – Rated Good
  • Marvel Super Hero Squad Online – Rated Good
  • Microsoft Flight – Rated Fair
  • Perpetuum – Rated Fair
  • Post Apocalyptic Mayhem – Rated Fair
  • Prototype 2 – Rated Fair
  • Q.U.B.E. – Rated Excellent
  • Quan Qiu Shi Ming – Rated Excellent
  • Red Bull X-Fighters - Rated Excellent
  • rFactor 2 (mod mode) – Rated Good & Updated Convergence
  • Risen 2: Dark Waters - Rated Fair
  • Saints Row: The Third – Rated Not Recommended
  • Shadow Company: Left for Dead – Rated Not Recommended
  • Special Force – Rated Good
  • Tera – Rated Good
  • The Adventures of Tintin – Rated Good
  • The First Templar – Rated Fair
  • The Haunted Halls Reach – Rated Excellent
  • Top Gun: Hard Lock – Rated Not Recommended
  • Tropico 4 – Rated Good
  • Worms Blast – Rated Good

Other Miscellaneous Additions

  • 295.73 WHQL adds support for 3D Vision windowed mode on DLP HDTVs and on Optimized for GeForce passive 3D monitors.
  • Includes updated PhysX 9.12.0209 System Software for improved compatibility and performance in Alice: Madness Returns and Batman: Arkham City.
  • Enables WHQL-certified support for NVIDIA Surround on Intel X79 SLI-certified motherboards.
  • Fixes instances of texture corruption/artifacts in Battlefield 3 when memory constrained (typically on 1GB or less graphics cards running Ultra settings and high resolutions).

Click here to download the GeForce 295.73 WHQL drivers.