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ATI Catalyst 8.12 Analysis - XP & Vista

AMD has just released a new ATI Catalyst 8.12 driver for Radeon graphics cards - we check out performance under XP and Vista.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Wed, Dec 10 2008 11:00 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:04 PM CST
Manufacturer: none

CATALYST 8.12 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS Introduction


ATI Catalyst 8.12 Analysis - XP & Vista

Introduction

I have to say, the Catalyst 8.12 is one driver set that I've been looking quite forward to; this for a few reasons. The first is that I will get to take my brand new testbed for a nice spin using a host of top ATI based graphics cards.

The second reason is that it was going to be interesting to see how ATI would respond to the ForceWare 180.47 drivers which had a huge focus on giving good performance to a lot of this holiday season's top games.

From a paper perspective, the driver doesn't look like it's going to disappoint with some big promises made. Let's have a look at what ATI say they're going to give us before we get stuck in to the performance side of things and find out for ourselves.


Performance Improvements

The following performance gains are noticed with this release of Catalyst

3DMark Vantage DX10 - performance gains of up to 5% for Single and
Crossfire mode. Performance gains were noticed on HD46xx, HD4550 and
HD4350.

Call of Duty: World at War DX9 - performance gains of up to 21% for Single
and Crossfire mode. Performance gains were noticed on all Radeon HD48xx.

Crysis DX10 - performance gains of up to 25% for Single and Crossfire
mode. Performance gains were noticed on all Radeon HD4xxx.

Crysis Warhead DX10 - performance gains of up to 13% for Single card
mode and up to 16% for Crossfire mode. Performance gains were noticed on
all Radeon HD4xxx.

Devil May Cry 4 DX10 - performance gains of up to 6% for Single and
Crossfire mode. Performance gains were noticed on all Radeon HD4xxx and
HD38xx.

Fallout 3 - performance gains of up to 15% for Single card mode.

Far Cry 2 DX10 - performance gains of up to 10% for Single card mode and
up to 57% in Crossfire mode. Performance gains were noticed on all Radeon
HD4xxx and HD38xx.

FEAR DX9 - performance gains of up to 6% for Single and Crossfire mode.
Performance gains were noticed on Radeon HD4870X2 and HD4870.

Hellgate: London DX10 - performance gains of up to 6% for Single card
mode and up to 10% for Crossfire mode. Performance gains were noticed on
all Radeon HD4xxx.

Left 4 Dead DX9 - performance gains of up to 10% for Single card mode and
up to 5% for Crossfire mode. Performance gains were noticed on all Radeon
HD4870 series.

Lost Planet Colonies DX10 - performance gains of up to 10% for Single and
Crossfire mode. Performance gains were noticed on all Radeon HD4xxx and
HD38xx.

Prey OGL - performance gains of up to 15% for Crossfire mode. Performance
gains were noticed on Radeon HD4870 1GB products, HD46xx,
HD45xx.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky - performance gains of up to 10% for Crossfire
mode. Performance gains were noticed on all Radeon HD4xxx and HD38xx.

Unreal Tournament 3 DX9 - performance gains of up to 18% for Single
card mode and up to 15% in Crossfire mode, especially in cases where AA is
enabled. Performance gains were noticed on all Radeon HD4xxx and
HD38xx

CATALYST 8.12 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage


Test System Setup

Processor(s): Intel i7 920 @ 3.8GHz (190MHz x 20)
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P (Supplied by Noctua)
Motherboard(s): GIGABYTE EX58-UD5 (Supplied by GIGABYTE)
Memory: 3 X 2GB OCZ Technology PC-12800 DDR-3 8-8-8-24 (OCZ3G1600LV6GK)
Hard Disk(s): Western Digital 300GB Velicorapter (Supplied by Western Digital)
Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista SP1 64-Bit
Drivers: Catalyst 8.11 and Catalyst 8.12


With our new testbed in gear along with some of ATIs top graphics cards and a new driver that is supposed to offer some serious performance improvements, it will be interesting to see what exactly the new 8.12 driver suite is capable of in our tests today.

Since we created a new testbed, we thought that it was also time to look at our benchmark suite. We've removed some of the older games and added in some new ones. As usual, due to the massive amount of testing the Catalyst benchmark suite is cut down. With that said, though, we're happy with what we've put together which comprises some of this year's hottest games.

What we've also done is really shift the graphics cards we use to the higher end game oriented cards; the HD 4850 and HD 4870 represent the top single GPU solutions on offer from ATI at the moment and we've also added the HD 4870 X2 which not only gives us the top ATI card currently on offer, but also the ability to test CrossfireX thanks to its dual GPU design. What these higher end cards let us do is not only benchmark up to higher resolutions like 1920 x 1200, but also that ultra high 2560 x 1600 resolution for 30" owners.

When it comes to talking about the performance of the cards, we've also decided to mix it up there as well. We'll now talk about each card individually very briefly. So if you have a HD 4870 X2 and they're the only results you care about, you can quickly go through and read our thoughts on that card in that game.

Onto the testing, we go!


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 8.12 Analysis - XP & Vista


HD 4850: Here we see no real change.

HD 4870: As you can see here, the new driver does very little for performance in both P and X settings.

HD 4870 X2: We see a small increase in our X test, but nothing to get excited about.

CATALYST 8.12 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS Benchmarks - Crysis Warhead


Crysis Warhead

Version and / or Patch Used: unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Airfield
Developer Homepage: http://www.crytek.com
Product Homepage: http://crysiswarhead.ea.com/
Buy It Here




Crysis Warhead updates and refines the gameplay of the original game through a sidestory plot involving Psycho, one of previous protagonist Nomad's allies. The game is a parallel story that follows Sergeant Michael "Psycho" Sykes, a character from the original Crysis, as he faces his own trials and challenges on the other side of the island during the time period of the first game.

It also showcases a new, enhanced and optimized version of CryEngine 2 using full DX10 extensions and is the first game developed by Crytek's Budapest studio.

ATI Catalyst 8.12 Analysis - XP & Vista


ATI Catalyst 8.12 Analysis - XP & Vista


HD 4850: Apart from one result, performance is exactly the same.

HD 4870: Up to 1920 x 1200 we see performance gains in place, but at 2560 x 1600 performance is down a little.

HD 4870 X2: Performance is a bit up and down with this card; minimums are down but averages go up.

CATALYST 8.12 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS Benchmarks - Far Cry 2


Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/
Buy It Here




The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

ATI Catalyst 8.12 Analysis - XP & Vista


ATI Catalyst 8.12 Analysis - XP & Vista


HD 4850: We see the averages have gone up slightly while the minimum for 2560 x 1600 has gone down a little.

HD 4870: Here we see performance gains across the board in the average department. As far as the minimum goes, the only real gain is seen at 2560 x 1600.

HD 4870 X2: The issue we had with FC2 previously seems to be fixed with excellent performance seen from the new driver.

CATALYST 8.12 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS Benchmarks - S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky


S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.5.07
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.gsc-game.com/
Product Homepage: http://cs.stalker-game.com/en/
Buy It Here




S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, is the stand-alone prequel for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, a first-person shooter computer game by Ukrainian developer GSC Game World.[3] The game consists of a roughly 50/50 mix of new areas and old, remodeled areas from the previous game. The X-ray graphics engine has been updated to version 1.5 and includes DirectX 10 support (later patch 1.5.06 included DirectX 10.1). Additionally, the AI received an overhaul to accommodate the new faction wars feature.

ATI Catalyst 8.12 Analysis - XP & Vista


ATI Catalyst 8.12 Analysis - XP & Vista


HD 4850: A boost can be seen in the minimum department at 1680 x 1050, but apart from that there's not a whole lot of movement.

HD 4870: While the 2560 x 1600 minimum is down (even after trying a reboot and a few other things), averages are slightly up with a big minimum boost at 1920 x 1200.

HD 4870 X2: 1920 x 1200 manages to see some gains, while not a whole lot is seen at our other two resolutions.

CATALYST 8.12 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS Benchmarks - Left 4 Dead


Left 4 Dead

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.l4d.com/
Buy It Here




Left 4 Dead uses the latest version of Valve's Source engine, with improvements such as multi-core processor support and physics-based animation to more realistically portray hair and clothing, and to improve physics interaction with enemies when shot or shoved in different body parts. Animation was also improved to allow characters to lean realistically when moving in curved paths.

Rendering and artificial intelligence were scaled up to allow for greater number of enemies who can navigate the world in better ways, such as climbing, jumping or breaking obstacles. Lighting has been enhanced with new self-shadowing normal mapping and advanced shadow rendering that is important to convey information about the environment and player actions.

ATI Catalyst 8.12 Analysis - XP & Vista


HD 4850: Here we so no real change.

HD 4870: Across the board we see slight gains with this card.

HD 4870 X2: 2560 x 1600 shows a little decrease in performance, but 1680 x 1050 shows some impressive gains while 1920 x 1200 manages to show some smaller ones.

CATALYST 8.12 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS 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.


Far Cry 2

ATI Catalyst 8.12 Analysis - XP & Vista


ATI Catalyst 8.12 Analysis - XP & Vista


HD 4850: Here we see no real change.

HD 4870: No real change seen from this card either.

HD 4870 X2: While we see nothing in the minimum department here, we do see a nice jump in the average department.


Left 4 Dead

ATI Catalyst 8.12 Analysis - XP & Vista


HD 4850: Here we see no real change.

HD 4870: Much of a muchness here.

HD 4870 X2: No real gains seen here either.

CATALYST 8.12 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS Benchmarks - FarCry 2 - XP


FarCry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/
Buy It Here




The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

ATI Catalyst 8.12 Analysis - XP & Vista


ATI Catalyst 8.12 Analysis - XP & Vista


HD 4850: We see performance is a bit all over the place here; there isn't anything that really grabs our attention, though.

HD 4870: Here we see no real change.

HD 4870 X2: We see a bit of up and down movement, but nothing that really stands out.

CATALYST 8.12 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS Benchmarks - S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky - XP


S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.5.07
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.gsc-game.com/
Product Homepage: http://cs.stalker-game.com/en/
Buy It Here




S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, is the stand-alone prequel for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, a first-person shooter computer game by Ukrainian developer GSC Game World.[3] The game consists of a roughly 50/50 mix of new areas and old, remodeled areas from the previous game. The X-ray graphics engine has been updated to version 1.5 and includes DirectX 10 support (later patch 1.5.06 included DirectX 10.1). Additionally, the AI received an overhaul to accommodate the new faction wars feature.

ATI Catalyst 8.12 Analysis - XP & Vista


ATI Catalyst 8.12 Analysis - XP & Vista


HD 4850: Here we see no real change.

HD 4870: Nothing special from the new driver here.

HD 4870 X2: Same ole' same ole' here.

CATALYST 8.12 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS Final Thoughts


Final Thoughts

So, that's the new driver set from ATI. What can we say about it? On a whole performance is pretty good and we do see gains in a lot of places. We can't quite see those 10% and 20%+ gains that we saw mentioned in the release notes, but they really are best case scenario and may impact different in-game settings more than others.

Apart from performance, ATI have now implemented the use of Stream technology; this is designed to compete against NVIDIA and its CUDA technology. What will be interesting is how it compares to NVIDIAs technology and how much people will use it over the coming months.

While it seems some people have reported issues with the new driver when it comes to installing, we have to say that across all the cards we used we didn't run into any problems.

As usual, if you test the new drivers in some other games or different cards, please don't forget to to our forums and let us know your thoughts on the latest driver release.

Until next year, we hope everyone has a great Christmas and New Year which should allow you some time to play all those games you're been dying to get into!

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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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