Nvidia is a chip making company that creates the GeForce, Titan, and Quadro line of graphics cards, as well as various in-home streaming devices under the Shield brand that allows streaming of PC games from a computer over the local network to the Shield device.
The Nvidia Control Panel is a tool created by Nvidia designed to allow you to customize various display driver settings for your Nvidia graphics card.
Nvidia Profile Inspector is a third-party tool created for pulling up and editing application profiles within the display drivers. Much like the 3D settings page in the Nvidia Control Panel, but more in-depth and exposes settings and functionality not exposed through the normal control panel for the display driver.
The GeForce line of graphics cards were introduced in 1999 with the GeForce 256.
Nvidia's companion tool for GeForce graphics cards, focusing on providing a central place for gamers to customize and access Nvidia/GeForce exclusive features, such as Shadowplay and FreeStyle.
With earlier series of cards the names are broken up into a 4 digit model number, with an occasional suffix on the end.
As an example we can use the GeForce 8600GTS.
The first digit is the series the card belongs to, in this case an 8 series. The second digit, the 6, is to signify the cards power range within that series. A 6 signifies a mid-range power, 8 for high end enthusiast card, and a 4/5 for low-end cards intended mainly for multimedia uses. The "00" are meaningless. The suffix can indicate minor changes from the base card, such as over-clocking or additional RAM. As in this example the 8600GTS comes with a 675mhz core, compared to the 8600GT with a 540 MHz core. The GS suffix indicates an inferior version of the base card (e.g. 7600 GS performs poorer than 7600 GT).
With the 100 series introduced in 2009 Nvidia changed their naming scheme for GeForce cards. This time they come with a small fixed prefix, and a 3 digit model number.
As an example we can use the GTX 460.
It is much the same as the older models, the first digit signifying the series, in this case the 400 series. The second digit signifies the power range, once again a middling card signified by the "6". And the "0" is once again meaningless, though may occasionally updates to a card may lead to a card coming with a 5 instead of the common 0. Though in this case the GTX465 is a weaker card.
Furthermore, there are only three prefixes:
GT (low end) < GTS (mainstream) < GTX (performance and high end).
As said, a card has now a fixed prefix, e.g. there is no GTS 460. Occasionally the suffix "Ti" can indicate a more powerful version (e.g. GTX 560 Ti > GTX 560).
The 10xx line-up is also known as the 10 series. Beyond that, they follow the same naming scheme as the rest of the 1xx-9xx series.
With the announcement of the 20 series (2070, 2080, etc.) in August 2018, Nvidia changed their naming scheme slightly. Instead of each new generation having a product name 100 above the previous one, the difference is now 1000 instead. On top of this the GTX prefix was also complimented with RTX to correlate with the new focus on real-time ray tracing.
Not to be confused with FreeStyle, a GeForce exclusive feature to add post-processing filters to games.
Ansel is Nvidia's exclusive photo mode for supported games, allowing the use of a free camera to take photos of a game. The mode is also able to crank up the graphical fidelity of a game so players do not have to change settings back and forth manually as they engage or disengage the photo mode. Games have to make use of the Ansel SDK to support this feature. Contrary to common belief, Ansel is currently not bundled in the GeForce Experience package, but is (un)installed with the regular display driver package, unless doing a stripped driver install excluding the NvCamera folder.
C:\Program Files\NVIDIA Corporation\Ansel\Tools
Not to be confused with Ansel, a GeForce exclusive photo mode.
FreeStyle is Nvidia's exclusive post-processing injector for supported games, allowing players to inject predefined post-processing filters to tweak the look and feel of the game.
Nvidia developed FreeStyle with the help of some of the Reshade developers and it uses the ReShade FX shader compiler to compile shaders written in Reshade FX.
Besides the official shaders that come with FreeStyle, it is also capable of running most other Reshade FX shaders as well.
Nvidia curates a collection of Reshade shaders that are known to work with FreeStyle.
Highlights is Nvidia's exclusive capture feature that is capable of automatically capturing and "highlighting" certain moments in games, such as the finishing move of an intense combat sequence, achievement unlocks, or similar events. Games have to make use of the Highlights SDK to support this feature. In the background, Highlights relies on Shadowplay.
Shadowplay is Nvidia's exclusive and generic gameplay recording and streaming feature bundled in GeForce Experience. This uses GPU hardware accelerated capturing and encoding to achieve a low overhead that does not impact gameplay as much as alternatives might do.
Nvidia's proprietary variable refresh rate solution, and a competitor to AMD's FreeSync solution.
Scalable Link Interface (SLI) is a brand name for a multi-GPU technology developed by Nvidia for linking two or more video cards together to produce a single output. SLI is an application of parallel processing for computer graphics, meant to increase the processing power available for graphics.
PhysX is a physics API originally created by Ageia and integrated into the GeForce line of cards from the 8-series onward. It allows the Nvidia CPU to perform physics calculations instead of the CPU, allowing for enhanced realism and CPU performance.
CUDA is a GPGPU API created by Nvidia for use in GeForce and Quadro range of cards. It allows common computer programs, such as Adobe Photoshop, to use the GPU card in your PC to boost certain parallel computing tasks.
Nvidia Optimus is an optimization technology created by Nvidia to save battery life by automatically switching the power of the graphics processing unit (GPU) off when it is not needed and switching it on when needed again. The technology mainly targets mobile PCs such as notebooks. When the GPU power is off, the driver redirects graphics commands to the integrated graphics chip (e.g. Intel GMA). Currently only Windows 7, 8, and 10 are officially supported, however the open source project Bumblebee brings support to Linux.
Several issues have been noted when it comes to using integrated Nvidia graphics cards alongside an integrated Intel GPU (Note: Some of these suggestions are difficult and may brick your computer. Perform them only if you know what you are doing)