The first thing we have to say is that the HD 4850 hated this driver, to make sure though it wasn't just a dodgy install we installed the drivers and rebooted the computer multiple times along with trying to run our benchmark programs in a different order. It wasn't just only the drop in FPS here though, at one stage Far Cry 2 would crash as we loaded it and Left 4 Dead froze half way during a test.
This isn't the first time we've seen a driver misbehave with the HD 4850, no doubts the issue will be fixed though come next month, which is what tends to happen. For the most part there isn't a whole lot to this driver, while we've got a consistent gain across the board under 3DMark Vantage the rest of the programs don't show much difference. It's not too much of a surprise though since there was nothing in the release notes about gains.
To be honest this is a pretty bad driver release from ATI and one of the worst I've ever tested. Not only are there no performance gains, but looking at the six pages of release notes, there's really very few fixes. This driver simply seemed like it was fast tracked so ATI could continue to offer the one every month deal that it has been doing for years and years.
To be completely honest though, I understand, Windows 7 is around the corner so there's no doubt that the driver team is really busy working on that. We've also got the 5800 series of video cards due out soon, which means that again the driver team are probably hard at work on that.
It seems like on the surface that the driver team put the interns on the 9.9s while the big boys and gals work hard on the 9.10s that are due out in October. Considering it's my birthday next month, I hope ATI are going to give me a good present with some kick ass performance from new and old graphics cards - hell, I don't care about old, as long as the 5800s rock I'll be happy.
Until next month happy gaming and benchmarking.