ATI Catalyst 8.5 Analysis - XP & Vista

AMD has just released a new ATI Catalyst 8.5 driver for Radeon graphics cards - we check out performance under XP and Vista.
| May 26, 2008 at 11:00 pm CDT
Manufacturer: none

Introduction

IntroductionWe're not far away from going 'out with the old and in with the new' as the launch of the 4k series of AMD graphics card close in upon us. This month, looking through the release notes for the latest incarnation of Catalyst drivers we see that a few performance increases have been promised. Maybe AMD are hard at work on the 4k series of cards and have figured out how to extract some more power out of the aging 3k ones in the process.Call of Juarez DX10: Performance increases up to 12% on systems containing an ATI Radeon™ HD 3xx0 series of product Halo: Performance increases by 10-30% across all of the supported ATI Radeon™ series of products Lost Planet DX10: Performance increases from 5 to 35% on systems containing an ATI Radeon™ HD 3xx0 series of product Stalker DX9: Performance increases by 20-50% when HDR is enabled in the game; across all ATI Radeon™ HD38x0 series of products World in Conflict DX10: Performance increases up to 25% on systems containing an ATI Radeon™ HD36x0 and/or an ATI Radeon™ 38x0 series of product. Higher performance gains are noticed on systems containing an ATI Radeon™ 3870x2 series of productWe'll see if these performance increases translate to any of the games we use.

Test System Setup and 3DMark06

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): GIGABYTE X48-DQ6 (Supplied by GIGABYTE)Memory: 2 X 1GB Kingston PC6400 DDR-2 3-3-3-10 (KHX6400D2ULK2/2G) (Supplied by Kingston)Hard Disk(s): Seagate 250GB 7200RPM SATA-2 7200.10 (Supplied by Seagate)Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows VistaDrivers: Catalyst 8.4 and Catalyst 8.5As usual, we will be checking out the HD 3870, HD 3870 X2 and the lower end HD 3650 to see how the last set of Catalyst drivers compare to the newly released set.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.
In our first test we can see the new driver suite doesn't give us any real form of increase.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10

CINEBENCH R10Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net
CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).
Moving over to CINEBENCH we can see the HD 3650 manages to get a small bump in performance while the HD 3870 X2 actually takes a bit of a hit.

Benchmarks - Crysis

CrysisVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.1Timedemo or Level Used: Custom time demoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.crytek.com/ Product Homepage: http://www.ea.com/crysis/Buy It Here
From the makers of Far Cry, Crysis offers FPS fans the best-looking, most highly-evolving gameplay, requiring the player to use adaptive tactics and total customization of weapons and armor to survive in dynamic, hostile environments including Zero-G.Real time editing, bump mapping, dynamic lights, network system, integrated physics system, shaders, shadows and a dynamic music system are just some of the state of-the-art features the CryENGINE™ 2 offers. The CryENGINE™ 2 comes complete with all of its internal tools and also includes the CryENGINE™ 2 Sandbox world editing system.
While both the HD 3650 and HD 3870 seem to get a decent performance increase, the HD 3870 X2 takes a hit across the board in Crysis.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3

Unreal Tournament 3Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1Timedemo or Level Used: Developer Homepage: http://www.epicgames.com/ Product Homepage: http://www.unrealtournament3.com/Buy It Here
Following the formulae that made Unreal Tournament so great the third installment to the series has hit us recently with better than ever graphics. The games uses the latest Unreal Engine which like most modern day games when maxed out puts the pressure on our lineup of graphics cards.
Checking out Unreal Tournament 3 we can see that the HD 3870 X2 gets a gain across the board, and so does the HD 3870 at the lower resolution. Apart from this there isn't much difference between the others, apart from a bit of fluctuation.

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
Tuning on AA and AF under 3DMark06 and we continue to see the cards get no real gains.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06 - XP

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.
With Vista out the way it's time to check out XP performance, and like we saw under Vista there doesn't seem to be any real performance gain under 3DMark06.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10 - XP

CINEBENCH R10Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net
CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).
Unlike Windows Vista, the performance isn't up and down under CINEBENCH here. All cards show very close scores to each other.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict - XP

World in ConflictVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in TestDeveloper Homepage: http://www.massive.se Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com
World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10) and the Xbox 360.The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.
WIC performance moves a little bit for the HD 3870 X2, but on a whole there isn't a whole lot going on between the different cards and resolutions.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3 - XP

Unreal Tournament 3Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1Timedemo or Level Used: Developer Homepage: http://www.epicgames.com/ Product Homepage: http://www.unrealtournament3.com/Buy It Here
Following the formulae that made Unreal Tournament so great the third installment to the series has hit us recently with better than ever graphics. The games uses the latest Unreal Engine which like most modern day games when maxed out puts the pressure on our lineup of graphics cards.
Unlike Vista we can see that the performance seems to be a bit lower on the higher end cards here.

Final Thoughts

Final ThoughtsWhile there were some performance increases promised, we didn't really see much across the board. Crysis performance actually took a bit of a hit with the HD 3870 X2. We wouldn't be in a huge hurry to upgrade to the latest set of drivers unless there were some fixes in the release notes for you.The chances are the AMD team are hard at work making sure that come June 16th the HD 4850 performance is up to spec and can outperform the competition. There is no denying that this release from AMD is going to be important. I have to say I'm looking forward to next month to see what both AMD and NVIDIA have up their sleeves for gamers and enthusiasts alike. Hopefully NVIDIA offer us something a bit more exciting then what the 9800 was, and hopefully AMD can create a new competitive card at a good price point.We should see a new set of Catalysts come out around the 16th with the launch of the new series of cards from AMD. Till then, have fun gaming.

Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:27 pm CDT

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR -

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.