ATI Catalyst 7.9 Analysis - XP and Vista

For the first time ever we test the latest ATI Catalyst graphics driver under Windows XP (DX9) and Windows Vista (DX10).
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Sat, Sep 15 2007 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Manufacturer: none

Introduction





Running a little late again we have a good excuse this month with some test bed changes so we mixed the comparison graphics cards up again and we have introduced Windows Vista testing for the first time. This allows us to introduce DX10 testing and we feel now is a good time since there is a good selection of DX10 games out.

Let's have a quick look at the performance improvements and move straight onto the benchmarks.


Performance Improvements

Far Cry performance improves up to 14 % on the ATI Radeon HD2900XT CrossFire, ATI Radeon HD2600XT single card, and ATI Radeon HD2400XT CrossFire configurations

Call of Duty 2 performance improves as much as 12% with Anti-Aliasing enabled on the ATI Radeon HD2600XT CrossFire and single card configurations
Half-Life 2: Episode 1 performance improves at most 9% on ATI Radeon HD2600XT CrossFire and as much as 6% on the ATI Radeon HD2400XT CrossFire configurations.

Serious Sam 2 performance improves up to 46% on the ATI Radeon HD2400XT CrossFire and up to 27% on the ATI Radeon HD2600XT single card and CrossFire configurations with Anti-Aliasing enabled.

Quake 4 performance with Anti-Aliasing improves 9% or more on the ATI Radeon X1600/X1650Pro and ATI Radeon X1300/X1550 products in both single and CrossFire configurations



Performance Improvements Note

We receive the Catalyst drivers before they go up on the AMD website and before the release notes are written. While we don't always get the opportunity to test the particular applications that are mentioned in the release notes we try to cover all our bases by testing Synthetic, Real World, HDR, OpenGL, Direct3D along with AA and AF.

If there is an application improvement that we haven't tested feel free to use the forums and comment on anything you notice.


Moving on...

Benchmarks - Test System Setup and 3DMark05


Test System Setup

Processor(s): Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 3GHz (333MHz x 9)
Cooling: Corsair Nautilus500 (Supplied by Corsair) with Arctic Cooling MX-2 Thermal Compound (Supplied by Arctic Cooling)
Motherboard(s): ASUS Blitz Extreme P35 (Supplied by ASUS)
Memory: 2 X 1GB Corsair XMS3 DDR-3 1066MHz 7-7-7-21 (Supplied by Corsair)
Hard Disk(s): Hitachi 80GB 7200RPM SATA-2
Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2 and Windows Vista Ultimate
Drivers: Catalyst 7.8, Catalyst 7.9 and DX9c


We have gone through another over haul this month, instead of using the HD 2600 PRO we have moved back to the HD 2400 XT with the mid-range still being represented with the HD 2600 XT, we also continue to use the humble HD 2900 XT.

As for testing we had hoped to move our OpenGL testing from Prey to Enemy Territory: Quake Wars but thanks to the 7.8 drivers not actually supporting the game that simply wasn't going to happened this time around but next time it will.

What we have done though is added Vista benchmarking for the first time which is going to become a permanent fixture to our monthly driver analysis. Deciding which way to attack the added operating system was a bit of a dilemma but we felt the best thing to do was add 3DMark06 for comparison sakes and then simply use DirectX 10 only games, in this case: Call of Juarez, Company of Heroes with the 1.7 patch along with Lost Planet and its Cave demo.

Let's not ramble anymore and get stuck into our Windows XP benchmarks before we move onto our Vista tests.


3DMark05

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 130
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark05/
Buy It Here




3DMark05 is now the second latest version in the popular 3DMark "Gamers Benchmark" series. It includes a complete set of DX9 benchmarks which tests Shader Model 2.0 and above.

For more information on the 3DMark05 benchmark, we recommend you read our preview here.




Straight away across the whole board we don't see anything to get excited about, all tests seem to be sitting pretty close together.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06


3DMark06

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/
Buy It Here




3DMark06 is the very latest version of the "Gamers Benchmark" from FutureMark. The newest version of 3DMark expands on the tests in 3DMark05 by adding graphical effects using Shader Model 3.0 and HDR (High Dynamic Range lighting) which will push even the best DX9 graphics cards to the extremes.

3DMark06 also focuses on not just the GPU but the CPU using the AGEIA PhysX software physics library to effectively test single and Dual Core processors.




3DMark06 paints a similar picture with no real changes.

Benchmarks - Half Life 2 (Episode One HDR)


Half Life 2 (Episode One HDR)

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest from Steam
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com
Product Homepage: http://www.half-life2.com
Buy It Here




By taking the suspense, challenge and visceral charge of the original, and adding startling new realism, responsiveness and new HDR technology, Half-Life 2 Episode One opens the door to a world where the player's presence affects everything around him, from the physical environment to the behaviors even the emotions of both friends and enemies.

We benchmark Half Life 2 Episode One with our own custom timedemos as to avoid possible driver optimizations using the "record demo_name" command and loading the timedemo with the "timedemo demo_name" command - For a full list of the commands, click here.




Moving to some real-world action, we can see that again there is nothing to really talk about, one FPS there in some tests but that's about it.

Benchmarks - Prey


Prey

Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: HardwareOC Custom Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.humanhead.com
Product Homepage: http://www.prey.com
Buy It Here




Prey is one of the newest games to be added to our benchmark line-up. It is based off the Doom 3 engine and offers stunning graphics passing what we've seen in Quake 4 and does put quite a lot of strain on our test systems.




While Prey performance managed to drop for the mid and lower end cards we can see that the HD 2900 XT managed to get a decent boost. No doubt this OpenGL optimization is due to the release of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars.

Benchmarks - Company of Heroes


Company of Heroes

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.7
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.relic.com
Product Homepage: http://www.companyofheroesgame.com
Buy It Here




Company of Heroes, or COH as we're calling it, is one of the latest World War II games to be released and also one of the newest in our lineup of benchmarks. It is a super realistic real-time strategy (RTS) with plenty of cinematic detail and great effects. Because of its detail, it will help stress out even the most impressive computer systems with the best graphics cards - especially when you turn up all the detail. We use the built-in test to measure the frame rates.






Company of Heroes performance is a bit up and down but only marginally and again nothing to get excited about.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF


High Quality AA and AF

Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.




Turning on the AA and AF sees no real difference - while the new drivers seem to be a little faster, 10 marks is more fluctuation than anything else.




No changes to Episode One like our non AA and AF tests.




Turning on the AA in Prey and we see performance actually take a step backwards which is disappointing.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06 - Vista


3DMark06

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/
Buy It Here




3DMark06 is the very latest version of the "Gamers Benchmark" from FutureMark. The newest version of 3DMark expands on the tests in 3DMark05 by adding graphical effects using Shader Model 3.0 and HDR (High Dynamic Range lighting) which will push even the best DX9 graphics cards to the extremes.

3DMark06 also focuses on not just the GPU but the CPU using the AGEIA PhysX software physics library to effectively test single and Dual Core processors.




On to our fist Vista test and like XP we see no changes across the board for 3DMark06.

Benchmarks - Call of Juarez (DX10) - Vista


Call of Juarez (DX10)

Version and / or Patch Used: DX10 Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.techland.pl/en/
Product Homepage: http://www.coj-game.com
Buy It Here




Call of Juarez is a Western-themed FPS from Techland. The North America release was one of the first games to utilize DX10.

Call of Juarez is loosely based on a number of Western movie hits from the last four decades, particularly the Spaghetti Westerns that became popular in the sixties and early seventies. The game features two different characters: Billy "Candle", a young fugitive accused of murder and the Reverend Ray, an ex-outlaw who turned to religion, believing that God Himself has chosen Ray to be the instrument of His wrath.






Call of Juarez DX10 performance seems to be up for the HD 2900 XT users while those with the HD 2400 XT will see performance taking a bit of a step backwards.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet (DX10) - Vista


Lost Planet: Extreme Condition

Version and / or Patch Used: Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com
Product Homepage: http://www.nzone.com/object/nzone_lostplanet_home.html




Driven to the brink of extinction on ice-covered wastelands, humankind fights to survive. From extreme conditions and insurgent Snow Pirates to hostile gargantuan alien Akrid, all that you can trust are your instincts.

Combining a gripping single player campaign and intense multiplayer modes with support for up to 16 players online, Lost Planet is an epic gaming masterpiece. Enormous world maps unfold as players' battle across vast snow fields and deserted cities either on foot or in armed, robotic Vital Suits.



Lost Planet DX10 doesn't really show us anything to get too excited about with the new drivers being pretty consistent with the old ones.

Benchmarks - Company of Heroes (DX10) - Vista


Company of Heroes

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.7
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.relic.com
Product Homepage: http://www.companyofheroesgame.com
Buy It Here




Company of Heroes, or COH as we're calling it, is one of the latest World War II games to be released and also one of the newest in our lineup of benchmarks. It is a super realistic real-time strategy (RTS) with plenty of cinematic detail and great effects. Because of its detail, it will help stress out even the most impressive computer systems with the best graphics cards - especially when you turn up all the detail. We use the built-in test to measure the frame rates.




Finally we finish up with Company of Heroes DX10 and we can see that again there is no difference in performance compared to the old drivers like our Windows XP tests showed us.

Final Thoughts




There we go - another month and a whole bunch of results. Unless you are planning on jumping into the Enemy Territory demo, it's not exactly a driver we would recommend.

The Catalyst Control Center also seems to have dramatically slowed down and feels very sluggish and the performance results are well... nonexistent.

We hope AMD are hard at work as we come into the fourth quarter of the year as it's going to be the holiday season in no time with many new games just around the corner.

Until next month Happy Gaming on the Catalyst 7.8 drivers unless you are playing ET:QW!

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

UKUnited Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk

AUAustralia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au

CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca

DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.
Newsletter Subscription

Latest News

View More News

Latest Reviews

View More Reviews

Latest Articles

View More Articles