Hoping for optimized PC drivers that ensure Batman: Arkham Knight runs smoothly on day one? You’re in luck if you own a piece of NVIDIA hardware. Yesterday, the company released a new WHQL-certified driver, version 353.30, with a few title-specific tweaks for the blockbuster conclusion of developer Rocksteady’s Batman trilogy.
The driver, which carries NVIDIA’s Game Ready designation, focuses on performance and features. “Just in time for the highly anticipated title Batman: Arkham Knight, this new GeForce Game Ready driver ensures you’ll have the best gaming experiences,” a blog post on NVIDIA’s website reads. The driver adds SLI support for Arkham Knight and an “optimal settings” profile in NVIDIA’s GeForce Experience software.
That’s not all that’s in tow. Not a moment too soon, Windows 10 compatibility for the hot-off-the-presses GeForce 980 Ti has arrived. (Getting the card to work previously required modifying the install files of older drivers; a painful process). And the new driver adds DirectX 9 SLI for the other recent blockbuster game, Square Enix’s free-to-play Lord of Vermilion Arena.
Rocksteady’s Batman series has always been a bit of a showcase for NVIDIA’s proprietary graphics libraries, but Arkham Knight leans much more on them than any other entry before it. PhysX powers enhanced cloth, smoke, fog, and debris particles, and GameWorks adds advanced rain spray and Godrays to the mix. The former notably requires an NVIDIA GPU to work.
NVIDIA’s GameWorks and PhysX have long been a point of contention within the PC enthusiast community, with AMD’s chief gaming scientist Richard Huddy going so far as to call them “sabotage” efforts aimed at hindering competitors’ hardware. He points to lower-than-expected AMD performance in games with NVIDIA sponsorships — most recently Project CARS, Far Cry 4, and the Witcher 3 — as evidence, although others — including the developers of Project CARS themselves — have countered that AMD’s older architectures and unoptimized drivers are to blame.
Whatever the cause, AMD is responding in a big way this week. At a press conference during the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the company unveiled the Fury X, a powerful, $649 water-cooled graphics card based on the company’s new Fiji architecture. It’s the world’s first consumer card to pack HBM (high bandwidth memory), a component which appears to give it a decided performance advantage over NVIDIA’s top-of-the-line offerings. According to leaked benchmarks, the Fury X rivals the Titan X.