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ATI Catalyst 8.8 Analysis - XP & Vista

AMD has just released a new ATI Catalyst 8.8 driver for Radeon graphics cards - we check out performance under XP and Vista.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Tue, Aug 19 2008 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Manufacturer: none

Introduction


ATI Catalyst 8.8 Analysis - XP & Vista



With the drivers coming in nice and early this month, I've been able to get stuck into the testing to see what the latest driver incarnation from AMD offer us. As usual, before we get stuck into the actual results let's see what kind of promises AMD have made for us this time around.

With new cards out and the year coming to an end extremely fast, it's time to ramp up the performance numbers so we can all sit back and enjoy a high FPS Christmas with all those new games coming out.

This month AMD haven't made any promises in the release notes, which is interesting as there have been rumors of big Crossfire improvements coming over the past month. With that said, though, they are just rumors, so you can't really take them for gospel. What there is in the release notes, though, is a mammoth amount of fixes for games; so make sure you check it out and see if some problems you're having have been delt with.

Test System Setup and 3DMark06


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): 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 Vista
Drivers: Catalyst 8.7 and Catalyst 8.8


This month, to keep everything moving nice and fast, we've dropped the HD 3650 as there are new mid-range ATI cards just around the corner. What we'll also do is test the new driver on the HD 4870 X2 and HD 4870 in Crossfire, but will leave that for a separate article if there are improvements present, since we don't actually have the release notes at the time of writing or initial testing.

Today, however, we will check out the new drivers on the HD 4870, HD 4850 and HD 3870. We will of course also compare them against last month's drivers, the Catalyst 8.7. Let's not delay any longer and just get stuck into the results.


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.


ATI Catalyst 8.8 Analysis - XP & Vista


Across the board we can see that there really is no change in performance at all resolutions with all cards.

3DMark Vantage




Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/
Buy It Here




3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.

3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.

ATI Catalyst 8.8 Analysis - XP & Vista


In the HD 4000 range, we can see that we have a boost in performance in both Extreme and Performance. We can see that the HD 3870, on the other hand, doesn't benefit from the same performance improvements.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10


CINEBENCH R10

Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10
Developer 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).


ATI Catalyst 8.8 Analysis - XP & Vista


Across the board, we can see the performance has wiggled up and down a little bit. The only place that notices anything, though, is the HD 3870 which gets a bit of a boost.

Benchmarks - Crysis


Crysis

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom time demo
Developer 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.


ATI Catalyst 8.8 Analysis - XP & Vista


Across the whole line-up we can see performance has dropped ever so slightly yet consistently in Crysis. In most tests we seem to lose an FPS here and there.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3


Unreal Tournament 3

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo 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.


ATI Catalyst 8.8 Analysis - XP & Vista


Across the board performance is a bit all over the place. Looking into it carefully, you would have to say on a whole there has been some performance gains across the board, especially at the 1920 range with the HD 4000 series.

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.


3DMark06

ATI Catalyst 8.8 Analysis - XP & Vista


Turning on AA and AF under 3DMark06 yields no performance increases with all cards.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06 - XP


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.


ATI Catalyst 8.8 Analysis - XP & Vista


Under XP we see no real gains with the new driver, nor any decrease. Across the board we see the scores are very similar between the two driver sets.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10 - XP


CINEBENCH R10

Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10
Developer 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).


ATI Catalyst 8.8 Analysis - XP & Vista


Under CINEBENCH we again see performance is a bit all over the place. There's no real change across the board, though, with the biggest difference being less than 100 on the HD 3870.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict - XP


World in Conflict

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer 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.

ATI Catalyst 8.8 Analysis - XP & Vista


ATI Catalyst 8.8 Analysis - XP & Vista


In the HD 4000 series we again see that some improvements can be seen at all resolutions. The gains are mainly seen in the averages more so than the minimums.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3 - XP


Unreal Tournament 3

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo 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.


ATI Catalyst 8.8 Analysis - XP & Vista


UT3 doesn't really see any change in scores across the board. We see the new drivers sneak ahead at some points while just falling behind at others.

Final Thoughts




It was interesting to find that AMD hasn't promised any performance improvements, yet we did see some in place. WIC performance is slightly up while UT3 performance under Vista also seems to be up a little. There are also extremely obvious gains under 3DMark Vantage for the HD 4000 series cards.

It seems mainly that the latest driver release was all about bug fixes, though, as the list for fixes in both XP and Vista are actually quite extensive. It also seems clear that AMD have adjusted their focus to the HD 4000 series of cards, which doesn't really come as a surprise.

Really, the only thing we need to look at now is if Crossfire gains are present. But since the driver doesn't mention anything about it, we would be surprised to see any gains apart from Vantage, perhaps.

What we'll do is place the HD 4870 X2 in our testbed along with a pair of HD 4870s in Crossfire. If we see some improvements that are worth mentioning, we will be back with another performance analysis. If we don't, though, we'll no doubt see a new set of drivers next month which will hopefully boost the performance of the newly released HD 4000 series cards.

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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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