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ATI Catalyst 7.12 Analysis - XP & Vista

AMD has just released a new ATI Catalyst 7.12 driver for Radeon graphics cards - we check out performance under XP and Vista.
@ShawnBakerTW
Shawn Baker
Published Thu, Jan 3 2008 11:00 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:26 PM CDT
Manufacturer: none

Introduction and Release Notes

IntroductionHo Ho Ho! We hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year, and if you have bought yourself a new Radeon based graphics card over the holiday period there is no doubt you want to see if it's worth jumping to the newer Catalyst 7.12 driver suite.Let's not delay as we have some performance improvements promised which you can see mentioned below.Performance Improvements Note3DMark2005: Performance improves 5% or more with largest gains noticed when Anti-aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering are disabled on systems containing either an ATI Radeon™ HD 2400 or ATI Radeon™ HD 2600 series of products Company of Heroes: DX10 performance improves up to 5% on systems containing an ATI Radeon™ HD38x0 series of product 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 SetupProcessor(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 VistaDrivers: Catalyst 7.11, Catalyst 7.12 and DX9cFortunately we test both 3DMark2005 and Company of Heroes so let's see if AMD come through with the goods as promised in their performance improvements note.3DMark05Version and / or Patch Used: Build 130Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct 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.
We can see that the HD 2600 XT gets a slight boost at the lower resolution, but nothing to get excited about.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06

3DMark06Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct 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.
Across the board we can see no real difference between the cards and resolutions.

Benchmarks - Half Life 2 (Episode One HDR)

Half Life 2 (Episode One HDR)Version and / or Patch Used: Latest from SteamTimedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com Product Homepage: http://www.half-life2.comBuy 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.
We continue to see similar results between the last driver set and the new one in our first real world test.

Benchmarks - Prey

PreyVersion and / or Patch Used: UnpatchedTimedemo or Level Used: HardwareOC Custom BenchmarkDeveloper Homepage: http://www.humanhead.com Product Homepage: http://www.prey.comBuy 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.
OpenGL performance hasn't managed to improve.

Benchmarks - Company of Heroes

Company of HeroesVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.7Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in TestDeveloper Homepage: http://www.relic.comProduct Homepage: http://www.companyofheroesgame.comBuy 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.
Apparently there has been COH improvements, but as we can see there isn't anything too exciting here; certainly nothing that is going to make a noticeable difference.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AFOur 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.3DMark06
Turning on AA and AF and we can see that there is no improvements.Half Life 2 (Episode One HDR)
The same can be seen in Episode One.Prey
Even in the OpenGL department we continue to see no improvements with AA/AF enabled.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06 - Vista

3DMark06Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct 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.
Moving to Vista we can see there are no real improvements under 3DMark06.

Benchmarks - Call of Juarez (DX10) - Vista

Call of Juarez (DX10)Version and / or Patch Used: DX10 Benchmark DemoTimedemo or Level Used: Built-in TestDeveloper Homepage: http://www.techland.pl/en/ Product Homepage: http://www.coj-game.comBuy It Here
Call of Juarez is a Western-themed FPS from Techland. The North Americarelease was one of the first games to utilize DX10.Call of Juarez is loosely based on a number of Western movie hits from thelast four decades, particularly the Spaghetti Westerns that became popularin the sixties and early seventies. The game features two differentcharacters: Billy "Candle", a young fugitive accused of murder and theReverend Ray, an ex-outlaw who turned to religion, believing that GodHimself has chosen Ray to be the instrument of His wrath.
We can see again there are no real differences at both the minimum and averages under COJ.

Benchmarks - Company of Heroes (DX10) - Vista

Company of HeroesVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.7Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in TestDeveloper Homepage: http://www.relic.comProduct Homepage: http://www.companyofheroesgame.comBuy 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.
We finally leave with COH which doesn't manage to show any real gains either.

Final Thoughts

Final ThoughtsI'm glad that I didn't spend too much time worrying about the latest driver suite from AMD. While we do see some performance increases it really isn't going to make much of an impact at all.We really thought that AMD would have pulled all the stops for the latest set but it doesn't seem like they have done so. It will be very interesting to see what they do in the new year; the recent news of R700 being ready to go is good news and if it offers the performance increase that they promise we don't have any reason not to be excited, but it will still be another month or two till we know for sure.

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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.

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.
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