Video Games Tutorials and News - Can You Game Without Driver Updates



You will never forget your first GPU. All the good memories you had and the bad, but all good things must come to an end. I don't want to play with you anymore. Last summer, we looked at the eight-year-old 780 Ti shortly after Nvidia announced that they would drop driver support for it and found that it was still a pretty capable card.

It's far from the only GPU on the market that might have the grunt to play games but is no longer receiving active support. With most modern games now targeting the latest generation of consoles, we set out to find out just how screwed over you are if the last time you got a driver update, people other than your rear end still used Facebook, and to find out how screwed I would be if I didn't tell you about our sponsor, glasswire.

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Ground rules

Ground rules

We We began our investigation by plopping these five GPUs onto our Ryzen 5800x test bench and picking 25 AAA titles from the last few years, and boy did this ever get interesting fast. Some ground rules: when we call a title playable in this article, we mean that it runs at 1080p on the minimum settings available in the game without any hacky tweaks and with a stable average frame rate of greater than 30 FPS.

This means that we were able to launch the game but it walked rather than ran, and "red" means that it wouldn't launch or it would crash. Okay, we'll start by revisiting the 780 Ti that now has both of its feet firmly in the driver support grave.

Game compatibility results

Video Games Tutorials and News - 380x

Of the 25 games we tested, it was able to play 16 of them without issue, and except for Do Maternal in Dirt 5, all of the titles it couldn't run were from 2021 or later, so even though you aren't getting game-ready driver releases, you're actually still in a pretty good spot as long as you're not dying to play new hits like Halo infinite Elden Ring or God of War, but what if we go older?

The GTX 480 came out three years earlier in 2010, and it received its last driver in 2018 too. Out of the 25 games we tested, it only managed five of them, all of which were either amongst the oldest in our suite or more basic free-to-play and esports titles. I confess we included this one mostly out of morbid curiosity, but next up is the beastly power-guzzling Radeon HD 6990.

Despite being released 11 years ago, its paper specs indicate that it should have about the same horsepower as a 1050 TI. Unfortunately, it's just as bad as Team Green, worse since it can't really run Shadow of the Tomb Raider and draws almost 400 watts. Like in life, the older we get, the less we can play right.

How about we turn our gaze to something a little newer, like our new cable ties at lttstore, Com? So many pretty colors. right, and the R9 380x. A couple of months before Nvidia pulled support for the 780 Ti, AMD did the same for its substantially newer 200, 300, and Fury series GPUs. This caused quite a stir, given that the 380x in particular was released just in late 2015.

In fairness, I can kind of see why AMD didn't want to support it since not a lot of people bought it. It was priced as an upper mid-range card, and, honestly, the performance didn't make a ton of sense. The mid 2010s were pretty rough for poor old AMD, but look at this: for just three games, this thing rides, baby.

This card is only slightly more performant than a 1050 TI, just like the HD 6990. So why has the game compatibility been done on 180? They're both from AMD. Well, for two main reasons. One is that the 6990 is a whack-ass card, having two GPUs on the same PCB, but the bigger reason is that feature.

Directx 12

Directx 12

Sure, the 380x isn't getting new drivers, sure, but it does support DirectX 12, which is a requirement for many newer games, or at least it kind of does. We often talk about DirectX as if it's a single monolithic thing, but really it's more of a collection of APIs that Microsoft developed way back in 1995 to help with multimedia development, especially game programming.

It includes tools for developing sound 2D applications, text rendering, and maybe you've heard of X Input for controllers. They're all part of DirectX, and what's great about these industry-standard tools is that, barring any unforeseen bugs, a compliant piece of hardware running a compliant driver should be able to run a compliant piece of software or game without special tweaks within This suite of APIs is direct 3D.


Obviously, a game that has great 3D graphics but no sound and no controller support wouldn't be a very good game, so you can't say that one API is more important than the rest. Typically. Microsoft does align the naming of each version of DirectX with the accompanying version of Direct 3D, which is why our DirectX 12 380x handled newer DirectX 12 games so well, at least to the best of its geriatric abilities, but Linus You might notice that it says right here that the GTX 480 also supports DirectX 12.

What are feature levels

What are feature levels

Why can't it play all of my DirectX 12 games? Here's the thing: software development never really stops, and many of the APIs within DirectX 12 have received significant updates since they launched, and that includes Direct3D. These updates are called "feature levels," and they're a good thing because they provide new tools and new functions for developers to use and for gamers to enjoy.

But, while the newer feature levels are inclusive of the older levels, meaning that your new GPU can almost certainly run your older games, sometimes a new feature level will contain forward-looking functionality that requires new hardware in order to be effectively utilized or even run at all. This is where our soup gets a little murky.

DirectX 11 was released with Windows 7 as part of DirectX 11 and covers feature levels 9 1 to 12 1. DirectX 12 came with Windows 10 as part of DirectX 12 and spans feature levels 11-0 to 12-2 and beyond. So you see how there's a little bit of overlap there. That means that while the 480 is technically a DirectX 12 GPU, it only supports the most basic 11-0 feature level of Direct 3D.

That means anything that's been added in the four feature levels that have come since is unsupported and making matters more complicated. This card is so old that it doesn't actually have full support for the highest feature level of DirectX 11 either. So, in a nutshell, that DirectX number really matters.

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