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ATI Catalyst 9.8 Vista Driver Analysis

AMD has just released a new ATI Catalyst 9.8 driver for Radeon graphics cards - we check out performance under Vista.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Thu, Aug 20 2009 10:43 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:28 PM CDT
Manufacturer: AMD

Introduction

CATALYST 9.8 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS


Introduction

I have to say that when I saw the list of performance improvements on the latest set of Catalyst drivers I was shocked. What was even more interesting, though, was the fact that they're not a bunch of performance improvements that are aimed at Windows 7, but if you have a quick look at what exactly AMD are offering us it's also clear that they've helped remove an important problem that is seen on so many systems.

What we're seeing is that most gains are seen on big dual CrossFire X setups that find themselves CPU limited. Since graphics cards tend to move faster than CPUs, it's not uncommon for CPU limitations to be an issue. This is one of the main reasons we have our CPU overclocked at 3.8GHz, to give the graphics cards we test a fair and balanced scoring pattern.

Anyway, have a quick look below to see what exactly is on offer before we dive into the test setup and straight into the benchmarks.


Performance Improvements

Battleforge DirectX 10/DirectX 10.1 - performance improves up to 15-50% in CPU limited settings with the largest gains in CrossfireX configurations

Company of Heroes DirectX 10 - performance improves by up to 10-77% in CPU limited settings

Crysis DirectX 10 - Dual CrossfireX performance improves as much as 10% and Quad CrossfireX performance improves as much as 34% in CPU limited settings

Crysis Warhead DirectX 10 - Dual CrossfireX performance improves as much as 7% and Quad CrossfireX performance improves as much as 69% in CPU limited settings

Far Cry 2 DirectX 10 - Dual CrossfireX performance improves as much as 50% and Quad CrossfireX performance improves as much as 88% in CPU limited settings

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. DirectX 10/DirectX 10.1 - Dual CrossfireX performance improves up to 40% in CPU limited settings with Quad CrossfireX performance improving up to 60% in CPU limited settings

UnigineTropics OpenGL - performance improves 5-20%

UnigineTropics DirectX 10 - Quad CrossfireX performance improves 5-20% in CPU limited settings

World in Conflict DirectX 10 - performance improves by 5-10%

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 Vista SP1 64-Bit
Drivers: Catalyst 9.7 and Catalyst 9.8


As we already mentioned in the intro, a lot of the improvements are focused on removing CPU limitation on high end setups. With our overclock so high we shouldn't really see much movement in our benchmarks. With that said, though, let's find out what happens to be sure.


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.


CATALYST 9.8 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS


HD 4850: Here we see no real change.

HD 4870 X2: We can see in the performance preset there's some pretty good gains.

HD 4890: Here we see no real change.

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.

CATALYST 9.8 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS


CATALYST 9.8 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS


HD 4850: Here we see no real change.

HD 4870 X2: Here we see no real change.

HD 4890: Here we see no real change.

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.


CATALYST 9.8 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS


CATALYST 9.8 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS


HD 4850: Here we see no real change.

HD 4870 X2: There are some massive gains seen at the lower resolution for the HD 4870 X2.

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 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.

CATALYST 9.8 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS


CATALYST 9.8 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS


HD 4850: Here we see no real change.

HD 4870 X2: In the minimum department there seems to be a small drop.

HD 4890: Here we see no real change.

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.

CATALYST 9.8 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS


HD 4850: Here we see no real change.

HD 4870 X2: Here we see no real change.

HD 4890: Here we see no real change.

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

CATALYST 9.8 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS


CATALYST 9.8 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS


HD 4850: Here we see no real change.

HD 4870 X2: We can see a bump in performance in the minimum department.

HD 4890: Here we see no real change.


Left 4 Dead

CATALYST 9.8 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS


HD 4850: We can see a small bump in performance here.

HD 4870 X2: Here we see no real change.

HD 4890: Here we see no real change.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

We can see that there were some gains at the lower resolution in our tests. The reason for this is due to the fact that at the lower resolutions there can be more dependence on the CPU. With more of the CPU limitations removed we can see a gain in these areas.

With some good improvements in the performance department and the normal line-up of bug fixes, this is a good driver. If you've got yourself a nice expensive CrossFireX setup the chances are you're going to appreciate this driver more than someone who simply has a HD 4850.

With that said, though, make sure you drop us a line in our forums to let us know if you're able to see the performance improvements that are promised to us by the Catalyst driver team.

Until next month, happy gaming and benchmarking.

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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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