Viper II Driver Comparison
S3 has stated with their drivers that they first work on stability and functionality, then speed.. So, I decided to see if they actually do mean what they say. Using my Diamond Viper II (150/175 Core/Mem) and 3DMark2000 Pro (registered), I ran 5 driver sets through the gauntlet. I used the 1.00 CD drivers (9.00.23). 9.01.09, 9.10.24, 9.10.30, and 9.10.34. I didn't use 9.01.12, because it didn't include a full set of drivers (it was bare-bones, core files only), and I didn't use 9.10.21 because pretty much everything in that driver is broken (D3D and TV-Out). The results will most definately suprise you! Let's take a look at the system setup. Also, in case you think I'm kidding of BS-ed the results, download the .3DB file here.
Now, let's take a look at the scores. All scores at 640x480x16 so the CPU would be the limit and the scores wouldn't neccessarily be equal.. Here's the benchmark results.
Suprised? I was too. It was amazing to me that the Viper II's best drivers were not the newest, since S3 claims they work on speed AFTER the actual features are included. Not only did 9.00.23 and 9.10.24 score much higher than the new drivers, the fill-rate and CPU scores went up as well, showing that these drivers are more effecient. I do have to mention that 9.00.23 did have very noticeable texture tearing and visual anomilies in 3DMark. For an example of these, click on the pics below. They're .JPGs so they are dithered badly, but the errors are very obvious regardless.
Because of the bad glitches contained in 9.00.23, the only driver with both speed and image quality is 9.10.24. This driver not only is faster than the others in D3D, it has the "4 textures in one pass" feature enabled, and the 9.10.32 OpenGL ICD can also be used with it for newer OpenGL support. In fact, I'm running it now. I did test to make sure D3D was usuable (9.10.21, it's closest compiled build available, crashed nearly every D3D game I tried). My game of test, TrickStyle, booted and ran fine. Therefore, Rizenet now recommends 9.10.24 for everyone with a Savage2000-based card and who is looking for speed. Enjoy!