Sit down for this, we have some shocking news. Are you ready for it? An independent testing firm hired by AMD to evaluate the stability of GPU drivers has determined that AMD builds the most stable graphics drivers in the industry. Through a series of tests, AMD's GPU drivers were shown to fail far less than frequently than NVIDIA's drivers.
AMD commissioned QA Consultants, a software testing and quality assurance solutions company based in Toronto, Canada, to evaluate the graphics drivers of both companies in a sort of head-to-head match up. Obviously there is cause to raise an eyebrow when a company with vested interests in the results is the one paying for the analysis.
That doesn't necessarily mean the conclusion is wrong, it's just obviously subject to increased scrutiny and skepticism. As it was performed, the test compared a dozen graphics cards split evenly between AMD and NVIDIA, running on 12 identical machines configured with Windows 10 running the April 2018 Update. The cards included a mix of gaming and professional SKUs.
Each graphics card was subject to 12 days of 24-hour stress testing using CRASH from Microsoft's Windows Hardware Lab Kit (HLK), which is a test framework Microsoft provides to test hardware devices for compatibility with Windows 10. CRASH is a specific tool within the framework that is designed to stress test GPUs in 4-hour blocks. It captures test cases covering S3, display resolution changes, display orientation changes, content protection, and rendering.
"While 4 hours of stress testing is a good indicator of prominent quality issues, it does not suffice in capturing intermittent stability failures or glitches. Therefore, we ran this test back-to-back around the clock for 12 days for each GPU. This accounts for 288 hours of non-stop stress in a test designed to make the GPU driver fail," QA Consultants explained.
The aggregate results of all that testing showed that AMD's GPUs remained stable 93 percent of the time, versus NVIDIA's GPUs passing 82 percent of the scheduled tests.
Results varied by GPU, and interestingly it was the professional graphics cards that seemed to struggle the most, including AMD's Radeon Pro WX 3100 and NVIDIA's Quadro P600. Among gaming cards, NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1060 failed more often than the rest.
So what does it all mean? That depends on how much stock you put into the circumstances surrounding the tests. The methodology has its pros and cons, and of course the biggest red flag is that AMD bought and paid for this study. Even the video with the cheesy music in the background feels less-than-scientific, and more like an infomercial (not surprisingly, comments on the video are disabled).
Would the testing procedure and results have been different if NVIDIA commissioned the study? Debate away, if you feel like it. In the meantime, you can check out the full study on AMD's website (PDF).