ATI Catalyst 7.10 Analysis - XP & Vista

AMD has just released a new ATI Catalyst 7.10 driver for Radeon graphics cards - we check out performance under XP and Vista.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Mon, Oct 15 2007 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:04 PM CST
Manufacturer: none

Introduction





Performance is the name of the game this month, performance increases are what AMD have promised with Catalyst 7.10. Labeled as the "Shoot em' Up Driver" we have a huge line up of improvements.

Unfortunately while we don't test all of the programs there are a number that we do.

You want to read this as much as I want to write it so let's not ramble on and just get straight into it.


Performance Improvements

Battlefield 2142: CrossFire performance improves 5-23% on ATI Radeon HD2600, HD2400 and ATI Radeon X1300/X1550

BioShock DX10 CrossFire performance improves 70% or more on all ATI Radeon HD2x00 series of products

Call of Duty 2: performance improves up to 6.7% on both single card and CrossFire ATI Radeon HD2600 and ATI Radeon HD2400 configurations

Call of Juarez DX10: CrossFire performance improves up to 42% and single card performance improves up to 34% on all ATI Radeon HD2x00 series of products

Company of Heroes DX10 CrossFire performance improves up to 80% on all ATI Radeon HD2x00 series of products and single card performance improves as much as 31% on ATI Radeon HD2900 and ATI Radeon HD2600 products

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars CrossFire performance improves as much as 23% on ATI Radeon X1x00 series products and single card performance improves as much as 23% on both ATI Radeon HD2x00 and ATI Radeon X1x00 series of products

FEAR CrossFire performance improves as much as 16% on ATI Radeon X1950XTX, X1650XT, HD2400 and X1300/X1550

Lost Planet DX10 CrossFire performance improves 20% or greater on all ATI Radeon HD2x00 series of products

Supreme Commander CrossFire performance improves up to 30% on all ATI Radeon HD2x00 and ATI Radeon X1x00 series products. ATI Radeon X1650 and X1300/X1550 see even greater improvements of 82% or more

World In Conflict DX10 CrossFire performance improves 14-67% or more and single card performance improves 20% or more on ATI Radeon HD2900XT and ATI Radeon HD2600 products

World in Conflict DX9 CrossFire performance improves up to 70% or more on all ATI Radeon HD2x00 products 470



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...

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 (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, Windows Vista
Drivers: Catalyst 7.9, Catalyst 7.10 and DX9c

There's only one change to our array of benchmarks this month, the removal of Lost Planet. Everything else is the same. Why the removal? Well, the latest drivers saw us get a grand total of three resolution choices in Lost Planet on all the cards; and let me give you a tip, none of them where what we always test at.

Due to time constraints we didn't replace it this month, we'll have something new next month though.


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.




There seems to be a small increase across the board, but nothing to get excited about. Let's quickly look at 3DMark06 before we jump head first into our real world tests.

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.




We again see no real difference, though no performance increases where mentioned for 3DMark06 so it's okay.

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 into the real world department we can see across the board we have increases. The biggest increases are seen at the higher resolution settings on both the HD 2600 XT and HD 2900 XT. We do see some increases at the lower resolutions as well, especially on the lower end cards.

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.




Prey performance hasn't really changed with the only noticeable situation being the 10FPS drop at the highest resolution for the HD 2900 XT. Apart from this, OpenGL performance in general doesn't seem to have changed much.

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.






COH performance is way up across the board both in the minimum and average department.

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.


3DMark 06



Not much change here, but like before we didn't expect anything.


Half Life 2 (Episode One HDR)



A small increase is seen in performance here, but nothing to get excited about. With that said though, an increase is an increase.


Prey



While we didn't see a performance increase in our normal Prey test we did under our AA/AF conditions. The HD 2900 XT actually saw quite an impressive increase in performance.

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.




Like XP there were no gains 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 saw gains across the board from every card to every resolution.

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.




COH performance under Vista remains almost identical to the previous driver.

Final Thoughts




We have only scratched the surface of the latest drivers but gains are clearly there. In a perfect world we would test all the games along with Crossfire and single card solutions. We don't doubt though that AMD have delivered on the promise, as the games we did test saw some decent increases.

This is clearly a driver worth updating to, especially if you're running a Crossfire setup it would seem. If you haven't already downloaded it we recommend that you head over to the AMD website and grab it now.

We're not sure how much more performance we will see this year. It's possible we will see a speed bump in the December driver like we have seen the past two years, but it's probably safe to say that next month will be nothing more than some fixes. Who knows though, AMD may surprise us.

Until then - Happy Gaming!

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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.

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