It wouldn’t be fair or very legit to our readers if I left out the part about some problems I encountered when using the NVIDIA Forceware 163.44 Beta drivers. After removing the old drivers and rebooting my system I installed the Forceware 163.44 Beta drivers and again rebooted. The system came back up and after checking the driver version in device manager, I fired up FRAPS and Bioshock to continue on with benchmarking. I loaded the first benchmarking scene I was running and after two of the three benchmark runs the game suddenly exited and I couldn’t move my mouse. Then the little windows popped up on the lower right hand corner saying the display device is not responding (you’re screwed is what it should say). Right after that popped up I met the great Microsoft Blue Screen of Death, which isn’t what you want to see at 3:30am!
I luckly had my camera sitting on my desk, so I was able to capture this moment before all the physical memory was dumped and the system restarted. It looks like the nvlddmkm.sys was the issue and that is obviously a display driver issue. The strange part is after the system rebooted the system ran perfectly and we never encountered this BSOD again! So if you try out NVIDIA Forceware 163.44 Beta drivers and experience this BSOD, don’t freak out totally as we haven’t seen it again.
After doing some research on the BSOD that I remembered the two hot fixes that Microsoft released just over a week ago for DirectX 10 and Vista. One of these Hot Fixes improves stability for memory intensive DirectX 10 applications on graphics cards with greater than 512MB of memory. Since the XFX GeForce 8800 Ultra has more than 512MB of memory and didn’t have the hot fix this could have been the cause! Both of these hot fixes improve stability and performance, especially at high resolutions, so be sure to grab them if you are on Vista and playing Bioshock.
The first hotfix improves multi-GPU performance and can be found here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/936710
The second hot fix improves stability for memory intensive DirectX 10 applications on graphics cards with greater than 512MB of memory: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/940105
ARTICLE UPDATE: NVIDIA Contacted LR to let us know that there are not just two, but four Hotfixes that GeForce users with Vista should update with. They are listed here.
Final Thoughts and Conclusions
BioShock has amazing graphics that uses advanced smoke, water effects and soft shadows that really start to show off assets that DirectX 10 graphics cards can offer gamers. It is our understating that NVIDIA’s Developer Relations team has worked closely with the 2K during the development of the game to ensure optimal performance and image quality with their drivers. The NVIDIA Forceware 164.33 drivers are clearly developed with the game Bioshock in mind, so if you picked up a copy of Bioshock and haven’t updated your drivers you should as the scenes I tested showed between a 69-98% performance improvement when going from the 158.18 to 163.44 drivers!
If you already own a system that is running Microsoft Windows Vista and have a GeForce 8 series graphics card then pick up Bioshock and let your DirectX 10 video card stretch it’s legs. At $44.99 it’s just a fraction of what that DirectX 10 video card already cost you!
Legit Bottom Line: Before you play Bioshock make sure you install the latest Hot Fixes for Vista and use NVIDIA Forceware 163.44 Drivers.