ATI Catalyst 8.6 Analysis - XP & Vista

AMD has just released a new ATI Catalyst 8.6 driver for Radeon graphics cards - we check out performance under XP and Vista.
| Jun 21, 2008 at 11:00 pm CDT
Manufacturer: none

Introduction

IntroductionWe've been so busy with the new HD 4800 series of cards that I honestly thought I would never get the time to really look at what's going on with the latest Catalyst release. With some good performance promises this time around, we'll have to see how the new driver set goes on our mighty test bed.3DMark Vantage:10 to 15% gains across all Radeon™ HD 3xxx and HD 2xxx products, with larger gains in specific cases. Call of Duty 4: Performance increases across all Radeon™ HD 3xxx and HD 2xxx products, with gains as large as 35% in specific maps. Call of Juarez DX10: Performance increases between 2 and 9% across all HD 3xxx and HD 2xxx products Company of Heroes (DX10 version): Performance increases between 4 and 10% across HD 36xx and HD 34xx products. Lost Planet (DX10 version): Performance increases by 1 or 2 fps across all HD 3xxx and HD 2xxx products, creating in some cases up to 20% increase. Lost Planet (DX9 version): Performance increases between 2 and 20% across all HD 3xxx and HD 2xxx products Prey OpenGL:3-5% gains across HD 3xxx and HD 2xxx products. Quake 4 OpenGL:Up to 8% increase across all HD 3xxx and HD 2xxx products. Shadermark 2.1:Minor improvements across all HD 3xxx and HD 2xxx products, with the largest gains appearing on HD 3650 (up to 9%) ViewPerf 10:Substantial performance improvements across several of the sub-tests, with the largest gains in ugnx (up to 55%), catia (up to 17%) and tcvis (up to 10%) across all of the HD 3xxx and HD 2xxx products. Let's see if we get any gains in our test system here today.

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 8.5From next month we might have to begin to mix it up once again with the inclusion of the HD 4800 series, but for now let's see how the established HD 3800 series go.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 worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests.3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today.
While the HD 3870 and HD 3650 see no real changes, the HD 3870 X2 seems to take a bit of a hit across the board.

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).
Here we can see the HD 3650 doesn't really change while the HD 3870 goes a bit backwards and the HD 3870 X2 goes forward.

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.
Crysis shows some low resolution gains on the HD 3870 X2, but for the most part there isn't much of a performance change between the two driver sets here.

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.
Firing up UT3, the HD 3870 X2 seems to take a bit of a hit, the HD 3650 doesn't really change and at the higher resolutions the HD 3870 get some gains.

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
Getting into the AA department, we don't really see any 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 worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests.3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today.
Moving to XP, we see very much the same picture as Vista with the HD 3870 and HD 3650 showing no change and the HD 3870 X2 getting a little bit of a hit.

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 Vista, CINEBENCH performance across the board hasn't really changed.

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.
We again see the HD 3870 X2 take a little hit while the other cards don't really change.

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.
UT3, as with Vista shows us some gains; the HD 3870 at the higher resolution and HD 3870 X2 at the lower.

Final Thoughts

Final ThoughtsWhile in the applications we tested there hasn't been any notable gains with the HD 3870 X2 actually taking a hit in a few cases, the new drivers generally seem to be increasing performance in the promised sections for people. What's really interesting about this driver is if you take the time to read the performance improvements, they all revolve around DX10 improvements. It will be interesting to see if this is something we begin to see more of over the coming months; Vista has really picked up momentum in the gamers market with most people jumping onboard. Considering how hard at work AMD has been on the new HD 4800 series, it's surprising to see any real gains from this month's driver, but they've managed to do it. No doubt over the coming months AMDs focus will begin to move to the HD 4800 series of cards in a continuing effort to compete against NVIDIA.

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

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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.

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