When we were testing the new Radeon X1800XL from Sapphire, we tried to install the driver that came with our X1800XT reference sample directly from ATI to compare the performance numbers.
Low and behold, it worked and we noticed some extra performance gains in the Radeon X1800XL, compared to the drivers that shipped with the reference card that went out to all other website reviewers. This should indicate that we'll see the new VPU from ATI performing better next month in the Catalyst 5.11 (November 2005) drivers which should officially support ATI's new X1K series of graphics cards.
We suppose you could consider this article a prelude of our upcoming Cat 5.11 performance analysis which will be posted around mid next month.
The two drivers that we will be testing are the 18.104.22.168-050921a-027133C and the 8.173.1-050921a-026915E which both seem to have been created on the same day (21st September 2005) but one is WHQL and the other isn't. We won't be hosting these drivers for download as they aren't publicly available and ATI probably wouldn't like us letting them out to the public.
We ran a few of our regular benchmarks and we manage to pull more performance out of the X1800XL - and we don't need to explain how much we love free performance... Let's begin and examine our testing results.