Later this morning NVIDIA will be releasing the first public beta of their 270 series GeForce drivers. NVIDIA is promising the usual spate of performance improvements that come from a new driver branch; notable improvements include Dragon Age 2 given the game’s poor performance on NVIDIA’s existing drivers, and 3D Vision/3D Vision Surround performance for some games. Of course driver performance gains rarely match what’s advertised, so your mileage may vary.

The more important bit of news coming with the release 270 drivers is that NVIDIA is going to be including a driver update notification service. Currently NVIDIA has a true auto update service for Optimus but nothing for the rest of their drivers; and meanwhile AMD launched their own notification service with the Catalyst 11.4 preview drivers earlier this month.

Unlike the Optimus service – which is a full auto update service – NVIDIA’s GeForce driver update service will be a notification service; driver updates are just a wee bit bigger and are more likely to go wrong than a simple profile update. As with the AMD’s notification service this is going to be enabled by default, as users most likely to encounter problems with out of date drivers are the most likely to pass over the option to enable driver update notifications. Meanwhile for power users the service will also have an option to poll for beta drivers as frequently as once an hour for the truly cutting edge. Notably, NVIDIA is going to be directing users to their download page rather than directly downloading the newest drivers, as they want users to be able to read the release notes first.

As with AMD's notification service we're a bit worried about this becoming another source of update spam for most users, but we'll see how things go. NVIDIA's less frequent WHQL release schedule should result in fewer updates over the period of a year than AMD's schedule, and as a result fewer update notifications. Meanwhile NVIDIA has not announced a release date for WHQL drivers, however we'd expect it to occur in April, meaning both NVIDIA and AMD will begin including update notifications with their public WHQL drivers at approximately the same time.

Update: 270.51 Beta has been posted

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  • xeopherith - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - link

    This is something I have been waiting for. Nobody wants to be notified 1000 times a day for updates like adobe products or java does. But, Video driver notifications are something I would welcome.
  • Pirks - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - link

    only the stupid people suffer from notifications, the others just use "autoruns" utility from sysinternals and voila - moronic adobe and oracle spam messages are plugged for life. learn the basics, son :P
  • AdamK47 - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - link

    Or you can manually kill these services. Learn the basics, son.

    This nVidia driver notification is just something else I'll have to disable.
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  • Wolfpup - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - link

    Yeah, I want to be running the newest drivers generally (until my GPU isn't really updated anymore, I guess...) and you can always turn it off.
  • UltraWide - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - link

    Why would NVIDIA not continue using Windows Updates. They should concentrate more on working closely with Microsoft to supply updates via Windows' built-in updating mechanisms.
  • Einy0 - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - link

    The Windows Updates drivers lag a bit behind the release drivers from what I've seen. I think for Joe Smoe the updater versions would suffice but for enthusiasts who want the latest and greatest this may be welcome. Personally I disable the tray icon, but when I open the the control panel if it told me an updated driver was available that would be nice.
  • nwrigley - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - link

    I actually think the lag can be a good thing. That way there is a buffer to weed out drivers with bugs. I recall people having issues with Nvidia drivers screwing up their fan speed and causing the cards to overheat - sometimes it's best that the average user not be fed the latest driver right away.

    The people who are going to appreciate the improvements that the latest/greatest driver update is going to give them probably don't need this feature either. Those people are going to hear about the new drivers on websites like this.
  • Taft12 - Thursday, March 31, 2011 - link

    No kidding! Remember this incident when an Nvidia driver update could lead to cooking your GPU?
  • Mr Perfect - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - link

    I really rather like that suggestion. Just about all of the current routers I've worked with do a similar thing and it works well. They run silently, but when you log into them to check logs or change a setting it will alert you to new firmware.

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