Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

Here’s why Nvidia’s shots against AMD drivers just don’t add up

Nvidia is no stranger to criticizing AMD, and more recently, Intel, as the three companies duke it out for the best graphics cards. Earlier this year, Nvidia jabbed at AMD for its drivers, claiming that optional or beta drivers (which AMD frequently releases) are “sub-par” and don’t provide a “smooth user experience.”

And Nvidia is at it again, shortly before AMD is set to release its new RX 7900 XTX graphics card.

For anyone keeping track of driver releases for gamers:#GeForce #GameReadyDrivers

— Sean Pelletier (@PellyNV) December 8, 2022

The crux of Nvidia’s argument, which you can discern from the chart above and a blog post Nvidia wrote in April, is that AMD and Intel provide far fewer certified drivers and instead rely on beta drivers in between major releases. That’s true, as Nvidia has continued to build its Game Ready Driver program over the past several years. But it doesn’t inherently mean Nvidia’s drivers are better by default.

Certification comes from WHQL, or Windows Hardware Quality Labs. In short, whenever a new driver is developed, Nvidia sends it through a rigorous test list from Microsoft to verify that it’s stable on Windows. It’s a seal of approval, but that doesn’t mean beta or optional drivers are automatically unstable.

If you track AMD’s driver history, most recent beta drivers are turned into WHQL-certified drivers a couple of weeks after being out in the wild. The most recent version 22.11.2 was released as a beta driver on December 1 as a beta driver and on December 8 as a WHQL driver. The same goes for the previous version which launch on November 16 as a beta driver and November 22 as a WHQL driver.

In addition, WHQL means the driver itself is stable, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the games supported are. Nvidia’s GeForce Game Ready driver 526.98 that included Game Ready support for Warhammer 40,000: Darktidefor example, launched alongside the game crashing with DLSS 3 or ray tracing enabled. That wasn’t on the driver, it was on the game itself, but it’s a good illustration of what “Game Ready” actually means.

New drivers can still cause issues on the Nvidia front, too. In October, Nvidia confirmed an issue with its WHQL driver inside Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, which it patched in a hotfix shortly after (what you might call a “beta” or “optional” driver). A few weeks after that, Game Ready support was included in a WHQL driver, which is very similar to how AMD has handled its driver rollouts recently.

Three RTX 4080 cards sitting on a pink background.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Nvidia’s Game Ready program relies on close developer interaction to fix driver-based issues before the game and driver are released, which allows Nvidia to add more “official” support for games as they’re released. That doesn’t mean games that aren’t explicitly listed won’t work. In years of having both an AMD and Nvidia machine close by, I’ve never encountered a game that worked on Nvidia that refused to work on AMD. That wasn’t always true in years past, which is a reality Intel is currently facing with its drivers.

Drivers are a vital part of GPU performance in games, but Nvidia’s claim that its drivers are better simply because they’re WHQL Certified doesn’t hold ground. The more important aspect is that drivers continue to deliver performance improvements and fix bugs over time, which is something Nvidia and AMD deliver on.

In July, AMD delivered a driver that could provide upwards of a 92% boost in some specific games. And in October, Nvidia released a driver that provided up to a 24% jump in a game as big as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. 

Third-party testing shows that AMD and Nvidia have both provided overall improvements over the year, delivering higher frame rates simply through driver optimization. That’s what’s important about new GPU drivers between AMD and Nvidia.

If you’re sitting on an old driver, make sure to follow our guide on how to upgrade your GPU drivers. You might be sitting on untapped performance, regardless of your GPU brand.

Editors' Recommendations

Jacob Roach
Senior Staff Writer, Computing
Jacob Roach is a writer covering computing and gaming at Digital Trends. After realizing Crysis wouldn't run on a laptop, he…
Nvidia and AMD GPU prices could skyrocket again in 2023. Here’s why
Three graphics cards on a gray background.

The price of both Nvidia and AMD GPUs could skyrocket in 2023, providing an extra incentive to order your new graphics card before the end of year. If the costs do rise, it won't be a conspiracy by Nvidia and AMD to make amore profit, but rather an unfortunate circumstance of U.S. import tariffs expiring.

The U.S. Trade Representative recently announced that tariff exemptions were extended for several products, but hasn't updated the exclusion for graphics cards. The exemption will expire on December 31, 2022, unless it's renewed in the next few weeks. This means we could see prices could jump by as much as 25% in 2023.

Read more
Are gaming PCs more expensive today? Here’s what $1,000 bought you 10 years ago
A close-up image of Nvidia's RTX 3080 Ti graphics card.

Say it with me: "Building a gaming PC is getting more expensive." Price is top of mind when building a gaming PC in 2022, and why wouldn't it be? Today, the best graphics cards will cost you well over $1,000, DDR5 is ungodly expensive, and CPU prices are double or even triple what they were a decade ago.

It's easy to add up the numbers and come to a conclusion, but that ignores game optimizations, falling prices of other components, and the various upscaling tools players have to squeeze extra performance out of their PCs. Instead of adding up what you could spend on a gaming PC, I added up what you would spend.

Read more
AMD rips melting RTX 4090 adapter as Nvidia faces down class-action lawsuit
A hand grabbing MSI's RTX 4090 Suprim X.

AMD took another jab at Nvidia's issues with melting 12-pin connectors following a dig Team Red made during its RX 7900 XTX announcement. It's not uncommon for AMD and Nvidia to spar during new product announcements, but this is happening under different circumstances. Nvidia is facing down a potential class-action lawsuit over the melting power connector.

Sasa Marinkovic, senior director of gaming marketing at AMD, tweeted: "Stay safe this holiday season" with an image of the dual 8-pin connectors on the upcoming RX 7900 XTX GPU. AMD made a similar comment when that GPU was announced on November 3, with AMD's Scott Herkalman saying "there’s no need for a new power adapter" for the card with a figurative smile and wink.

Read more