ATI Catalyst 9.5 Vista Driver Analysis

AMD has just released a new Catalyst 9.5 driver for Radeon graphics cards - we check out performance under Vista.
| May 18, 2009 at 8:01 am CDT
Manufacturer: none

Introduction

CATALYST 9.5 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS
Introduction This is a bit of an interesting release. Another website late last week leaked the Catalyst 9.5 drivers out; these didn't seem to be a beta, though, for the plain fact that they seemed to be WHQL certified. It's also not that uncommon for WHQL drivers to show up a few days before they are seen on the Game.AMD website. With the drivers not showing on the Game.AMD website yet we don't have any release notes on what to expect from the latest driver release. So with that said, we'll be winging it a bit and just taking everything as it comes. So let's not delay any longer and check out the testbed then we'll get stuck into the performance side of things to see what exactly is on offer from the Catalyst 9.5s.

Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage

Test System SetupProcessor(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 Velocirapter (Supplied by Western Digital)Operating System:Windows Vista SP1 64-BitDrivers: Catalyst 9.4 and Catalyst 9.5As we mentioned just before, due to the drivers not being on the Game.AMD website yet we haven't got any release notes so let's just get stuck straight into the performance benchmarks and see exactly what we have going on here.3DMark VantageVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct 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.
CATALYST 9.5 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS
HD 4850: We can see performance is a bit down with the new driver.HD 4870 X2: Here we see no real change.HD 4890: Here we see no real change.

Benchmarks - Crysis Warhead

Crysis WarheadVersion and / or Patch Used: unpatchedTimedemo or Level Used: AirfieldDeveloper Homepage: http://www.crytek.comProduct 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.
CATALYST 9.5 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS
CATALYST 9.5 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS
HD 4850: Across the board we can see performance is down with the new driver. HD 4870 X2: Across the board we can see performance is down with the new driver.HD 4890: Here we see no change at all.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch LongDeveloper 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.
CATALYST 9.5 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS
CATALYST 9.5 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS
HD 4850: Across the board we can see performance is down with the new driver.HD 4870 X2: Here we see no real change.HD 4890: Here we see no real change.

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

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear SkyVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.5.07Timedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper 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.
CATALYST 9.5 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS
CATALYST 9.5 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS
HD 4850: Here we see a massive drop in performance at all resolutions.HD 4870 X2: Here we see no real change.HD 4890: here we see no real change.

Benchmarks - Left 4 Dead

Left 4 DeadVersion and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam UpdateTimedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper 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.
CATALYST 9.5 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS
HD 4850: Across the board we can see performance is down with the new driver.HD 4870 X2: We see a slight drop at all resolutions here.HD 4890: Here we see no real change.

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.Far Cry 2
CATALYST 9.5 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS
CATALYST 9.5 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS
HD 4850: We see a serious drop in the minimum department here.HD 4870 X2: We can see the minimum is slightly down.HD 4890: We can see the minimum is slightly down.Left 4 Dead
CATALYST 9.5 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS
HD 4850: We see a drop in performance here.HD 4870 X2: Here we see performance is slightly down.HD 4890: Here we see performance is slightly down.

Final Thoughts

Final ThoughtsThe latest drivers don't show a whole lot for the HD 4890 and HD 4870 X2. As for the HD 4850 we see performance drops in many games and by a good chunk. For the most part we wouldn't recommend HD 4850 users upgrade to the latest set of drivers.As we've mentioned a few times already, we don't have any release notes, but there's no doubt going to be the usual array of bug fixes in games and applications which is always a good reason to upgrade when we don't see a performance drop.With the driver being WHQL certified already we don't doubt that the 9.5s are going to show up in the next few days. For the most part it looks like they'll be worth the upgrade if you're sitting on a higher end ATI card.As always, we don't test all cards and games, so if you find any pros or cons with the driver suite make sure you leave a note in the forums.

Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:28 pm CDT

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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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