ATI Catalyst 9.9 Vista Driver Analysis

AMD has just released a new ATI Catalyst 9.9 driver for Radeon graphics cards - we check out performance under Vista.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Sun, Sep 13 2009 10:44 PM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Manufacturer: AMD

Introduction


CATALYST 9.9 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS




As we roll into September we find ourselves in the Catalyst for the year that will carry with it a single digit, as we roll out of this month and into October we'll find ourselves staring down the barrel of the Catalyst 9.10s.

The 9.10s should be a fairly exciting driver with it being the first official driver for the new HD 5800 video cards that are due out later this month, for now though we're still with our beloved HD 4800 cards and we'll find out just what's happening with the 9.9 drivers.

Normally we would get stuck into making note of what performance improvements are seen, but with nothing in the release notes this month, we'll get stuck straight into the benchmarking side of things and see if there's any surprises.

Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage


Test System Setup

Processor(s): Intel Core 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: Microsoft Windows Vista SP1 64-Bit
Drivers: ATI Catalyst 9.9 and ATI Catalyst 9.8


With no performance promises and a small list of bug fixes we're not expecting heaps from this driver release.

Windows 7 and the 5800 series are just around the corner so we hope that ATI's focus is on that at the moment.


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 9.9 Vista Driver Analysis 01 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 11 IMAGES


HD 4850: In our P test we can see a bump in performance.

HD 4870 X2: We see a small jump in the X test and a bigger one in the P test.

HD 4890: While we see a slight jump in performance in our X test we see a bigger one in our P test.

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 9.9 Vista Driver Analysis 02 | TweakTown.com


ATI Catalyst 9.9 Vista Driver Analysis 03 | TweakTown.com


HD 4850: The performance seems to be slightly down at all resolutions.

HD 4870 X2: Here we see no change.

HD 4890: Here we see no change.

Benchmarks - FarCry 2


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 9.9 Vista Driver Analysis 04 | TweakTown.com


ATI Catalyst 9.9 Vista Driver Analysis 05 | TweakTown.com


HD 4850: Performance again seems slightly down at all resolutions.

HD 4870 X2: Here we see no change.

HD 4890: Here we see a little bit of movement in the negative form at the lowest resolution in the minimum department, for the most part though there's no real changes.

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 9.9 Vista Driver Analysis 06 | TweakTown.com


ATI Catalyst 9.9 Vista Driver Analysis 07 | TweakTown.com


HD 4850: Performance is down and all over the place here. And no those minimum results aren't backwards.

HD 4870 X2: Minimum's seemed to have dropped off slightly.

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.

ATI Catalyst 9.9 Vista Driver Analysis 08 | TweakTown.com


HD 4850: We continue to see the HD 4850 give us lower performance with the new driver set.

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.


FarCry 2

ATI Catalyst 9.9 Vista Driver Analysis 09 | TweakTown.com


ATI Catalyst 9.9 Vista Driver Analysis 10 | TweakTown.com


HD 4850: Performance continues to be slightly down.

HD 4870 X2: Here we see no real change.

HD 4890: Here we see a slight bump in the minimum department.


Left 4 Dead

ATI Catalyst 9.9 Vista Driver Analysis 11 | TweakTown.com


HD 4850: We again see performance is slightly down.

HD 4870 X2: Here we see no real change.

HD 4890: Here we see no real change.

Final Thoughts




The first thing we have to say is that the HD 4850 hated this driver, to make sure though it wasn't just a dodgy install we installed the drivers and rebooted the computer multiple times along with trying to run our benchmark programs in a different order. It wasn't just only the drop in FPS here though, at one stage Far Cry 2 would crash as we loaded it and Left 4 Dead froze half way during a test.

This isn't the first time we've seen a driver misbehave with the HD 4850, no doubts the issue will be fixed though come next month, which is what tends to happen. For the most part there isn't a whole lot to this driver, while we've got a consistent gain across the board under 3DMark Vantage the rest of the programs don't show much difference. It's not too much of a surprise though since there was nothing in the release notes about gains.

To be honest this is a pretty bad driver release from ATI and one of the worst I've ever tested. Not only are there no performance gains, but looking at the six pages of release notes, there's really very few fixes. This driver simply seemed like it was fast tracked so ATI could continue to offer the one every month deal that it has been doing for years and years.

To be completely honest though, I understand, Windows 7 is around the corner so there's no doubt that the driver team is really busy working on that. We've also got the 5800 series of video cards due out soon, which means that again the driver team are probably hard at work on that.

It seems like on the surface that the driver team put the interns on the 9.9s while the big boys and gals work hard on the 9.10s that are due out in October. Considering it's my birthday next month, I hope ATI are going to give me a good present with some kick ass performance from new and old graphics cards - hell, I don't care about old, as long as the 5800s rock I'll be happy.

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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