ATI Catalyst 9.3 Analysis - XP & Vista

AMD has just released a new ATI Catalyst 9.3 driver for Radeon graphics cards - we check out performance under XP and Vista.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Sun, Mar 22 2009 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Manufacturer: none

Introduction


1ATI Catalyst 9.3 Analysis - XP & Vista



As the first quarter of the year comes to an end, we see the latest incarnation of AMD's ATI Catalyst drivers being released. To no surprise, we have the 9.3s which carry some more performance improvements in situations where CPU limitation is an issue.

Something worth mentioning about this driver is that the Windows Vista driver also offers support for Windows 7. With that said, though, that the driver under Windows 7 isn't supported by AMD as it hasn't been fully tested.


Performance Improvements

Catalyst 9.3 brings performance benefits in several cases where framerates are CPU limited. Some measured examples are:

Lost Planet: Colonies gains up to 20% on 4800 series products, and up to 50% on 4600, 4500 and 4300 series products.

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 9.2 and Catalyst 9.3


With new cards coming out, there's no doubt that we will see some changes in the Catalyst Performance Analysis over the next few months. But for now there aren't any changes, so let's just get stuck into it.


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 9.3 Analysis - XP & Vista


HD 4850: We see that performance is down on both configurations.

HD 4870: We see performance is slightly down on P, but slightly up on X.

HD 4870 X2: We see performance is a fair bit down on P and with no real change at X.

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 9.3 Analysis - XP & Vista


ATI Catalyst 9.3 Analysis - XP & Vista


HD 4850: As we climb up in resolution we see that performance is down on the new driver.

HD 4870: At 1920 we see performance is slightly down on the new driver.

HD 4870 X2: Across the board we can see the performance is up here at all resolutions.

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 9.3 Analysis - XP & Vista


ATI Catalyst 9.3 Analysis - XP & Vista


HD 4850: Performance is down at the highest resolution.

HD 4870: Here we see no real change.

HD 4870 X2: Across the board we can see performance is down.

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 9.3 Analysis - XP & Vista


ATI Catalyst 9.3 Analysis - XP & Vista


HD 4850: Performance is all over the place, but for the most part it doesn't look good for the new driver.

HD 4870: Here we see no real change.

HD 4870 X2: Performance is a bit all over the place, up in some bits while down in others.

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 9.3 Analysis - XP & Vista


HD 4850: We can see that the performance is slightly down.

HD 4870: Here we see no real change.

HD 4870 X2: Here we can see that the performance is actually up at the lower resolutions.

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 9.3 Analysis - XP & Vista


ATI Catalyst 9.3 Analysis - XP & Vista


HD 4850: Here we see performance is down.

HD 4870: Here we see performance is down.

HD 4870 X2: Here we see performance is down.


Left 4 Dead

ATI Catalyst 9.3 Analysis - XP & Vista


HD 4850: Here we see performance is down.

HD 4870: Here we see no real change.

HD 4870 X2: Here we see no real change.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2 - XP


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 9.3 Analysis - XP & Vista


ATI Catalyst 9.3 Analysis - XP & Vista


HD 4850: Launching a 3D application with the new drivers caused the system to reboot.

HD 4870: Here we see no real change.

HD 4870 X2: We've got a bit of movement here with the new drivers giving us a little boost in some sections, while other sections are a little lower.

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 9.3 Analysis - XP & Vista


ATI Catalyst 9.3 Analysis - XP & Vista


HD 4850: Launching a 3D application with the new drivers caused the system to reboot.

HD 4870: Here we see the performance is down.

HD 4870 X2: Here we see performance is down.

Final Thoughts




Right from the launch of the Catalyst 9.3 drivers, things weren't looking good with many people complaining about issues they had with the driver suite. We had two major problems; for the most part performance was down and the only time we saw performance being up was in Left 4 Dead using the HD 4870 X2 at the lower resolution. This is in line with the promise of performance improvements for CPU limited games.

The other issue we had was that as soon as we installed the driver on Windows XP with the HD 4850, we couldn't run any 3D applications. Loading one would cause our system to simply reboot.

It's clear, though, that by looking around at forums we're hardly the only person having issues with the driver. This will be the first time that we won't be using the new driver on cards that come in and will simply stick to the 9.2s.

Hopefully you have more luck with them, but for the most part we would recommend that you avoid this driver. The only other people who seem to be having some luck with this driver are users of Windows 7. With AMD taking the time to focus on the new operating system, it could mean that XP and Vista users are not going to get the attention they were up till now.

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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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