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Further Nvidia driver ‘optimisation’ detected – report

Aniso filtering improved if 3DMark03.exe renamed

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Nvidia has been accused - again - of using its Detonator FX graphics card drivers to reduce image quality in order to inflate its products' 3DMark 03 scores.

Tests carried out by web site The Tech Report found that anisotropic filtering operations carried out on GeForce FX 5200, 5600 and 5800 chips yield worse 3DMark 03 scores when the test software was renamed '3dmurk03.exe' rather than '3dmark03.exe'.

Overall, the FX 5800 scored 4029 with 3DMark but only 3295 with 3DMurk, a drop of 18.2 per cent. The FX 5600 and FX 5200 saw dips of 14 per cent and 8.8 per cent, respectively, between the two executables. Switching off anisotropic filtering yielded almost identical scores for both binaries.

Tech Report's tests are in addition to the eight instances of cheating... sorry, driver optimisation that FutureMark, developer of 3DMark 03, recently revealed.

The latest tests don't yield such obvious image degradation as some of the 'optimisations' found by FutureMark. Peering at two screen grabs - one from 3DMurk, the other from 3DMark - we found it hard to tell the two apart. But Tech Report's fairly simple image analysis - essentially subtracting one image from the other in Photoshop - revealed differences between the two executables' output.

In short, this latest tweak results in a fairly minor image reduction for a double-figure increase in performance. But it's neither an across-the-board improvement nor something that the user has any control over. It seems specifically targeted at this one benchmark application, and that's a no-no.

According the The Tech Report, the issue was revealed by ATI, which of course has no axe to grind in all this. Ahem. The testing was conducted independently by the web site, however, using Detonator FX 44.03 and 3DMark03 Build 330. ®

Related Link

The Tech Report: Further Nvidia optimisations for 3DMark03?

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FutureMark: Nvidia didn't cheat
ATI admits it 'optimised' drivers for 3DMark 03
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