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ATI Catalyst 10.3 Windows 7 Driver Analysis

AMD has just released a new ATI Catalyst 10.3 driver for Radeon graphics cards - we check out performance under Windows 7.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Mon, Mar 22 2010 12:17 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:29 PM CDT
Manufacturer: AMD

Introduction

CATALYST 10.3 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS


Introduction

The Catalyst 10.3 drivers are really weird this month. What tends to happen is that we'll get the driver a few days before it goes up live on the ATI website. Once it goes live then we release our performance analysis comparing the latest version to the previous one.

This time around, though, it seems that ATI have ants in the pants and can't keep still because they chose to release a preview driver of the 10.3s which is essentially the driver you're going to see, except it's non-WHQL. In saying that, the WHQL driver will miss Eyefinity 6 updates and an Alien vs. Predator optimization. We're sure the 10.4s will include those updates, though.

Below is the full listing of new features and performance improvements you'll see in the 10.3s. Let's just let the list do the talking.


- New Features

ATI Catalyst Mobility - monthly updates for the mobile crowd

ATI Eyefinity Technology Bezel Correction - compensate for your bezels so objects in your game move from one display to the other smoothly

ATI Eyefinity Technology Per Display Control - adjust for differences in each individual displays brightness, color and contrast

ATI Eyefinity Technology Multiple Display Groups - more display groups to give further control of your desktop with three displays or more connected

ATI Eyefinity Technology Display Configuration Switching - easily switch from one display mode to another

3D Stereoscopic 3D driver hooks - enables 3rd party middleware vendors to bring more 3D stereoscopic gaming options


- Performance Improvements

3DMark Vantage

Overall scores increase by up to 8% with ATI Radeon HD 5970 graphics products
Overall scores increase by up to 4% on ATI Radeon HD 5800 Series products and up to 3% on ATI Radeon HD 5700 Series products

Aliens vs. Predator

Overall performance increases 5% on ATI Radeon HD 5000 Series products

Battleforge

Improves up to 8% on ATI Radeon HD 5000 Series products
Improves up to 3% on ATI Radeon HD 4800 Series products

Call of Duty: World at War

Improves up to 2% on ATI Radeon HD 5800 Series products
Improves up to 6% on ATI Radeon HD 4800 Series products

Company of Heroes

Improves up to 6% on ATI Radeon HD 5000 Series products
Improves up to 3% on ATI Radeon HD 4800 Series products

Crysis and Crysis Warhead

Improves up to 6% on ATI Radeon HD 5000 Series products
Improves up to 2% on ATI Radeon HD 4800 Series products

Devil May Cry 4

Improves up to 10% on ATI Radeon HD 5000 Series products
Improves up to 6% on ATI Radeon HD 4800 Series products

DiRT 2

Improves up to 30% on ATI Radeon HD 5970 graphics products
Improves up to 20% on ATI Radeon HD 5800 Series and ATI Radeon HD 5700 Series products
Improves up to 10% on ATI Radeon HD 4800 Series products

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars

Improves up to 5% on ATI Radeon HD 5800 Series products
Improves up to 3% on ATI Radeon HD 5700 Series products
Improves up to 2% on ATI Radeon HD 4800 Series products

Far Cry 2

Improves up to 6% on ATI Radeon HD 5000 Series products
Improves up to 4% on ATI Radeon HD 4800 Series products

Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2

Improves up to 3% on ATI Radeon HD 4800 Series products

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Call of Pripyat Benchmark

Improves up to 10% with Anti-Aliasing enabled on ATI Radeon HD 5000 Series products

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

Improves up to 2% with ATI Radeon HD 5970 graphics products
Improves up to 2% on ATI Radeon HD 5800 Series products

Resident Evil 5

Improves up to 5% on ATI Radeon HD 5000 Series products
Improves up to 3% on ATI Radeon HD 4800 Series products

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Improves up to 15% with ATI Radeon HD 5970 graphics products
Improves up to 20% on ATI Radeon HD 5800 Series products and ATI Radeon HD 5700 Series products
Improves up to 3% on ATI Radeon HD 4800 Series products

Unigine Tropics

Improves up to 5% on ATI Radeon HD 5000 Series products

World in Conflict

Improves up to 5% on ATI Radeon HD 5800 Series products
Improves up to 3% on ATI Radeon HD 5700 Series products
Improves up to 5% on ATI Radeon HD 4800 Series products

Wolfenstein

Improves up to 4% on ATI Radeon HD 5000 Series products
Improves up to 4% on ATI Radeon HD 4800 Series products

Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage

CATALYST 10.3 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS


We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASRock, Kingston, Western Digital, Noctua and Thermaltake.


This month we've added Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. to the benchmark line-up as ATI has promised some nice performance improvements.

We've also gone through a testbed upgrade which now contains a beautiful ASRock X58 Extreme3 and Intel i7-980X Extreme processor. For now it's clocked at the same 3.8GHz as our i7 920, but it will be heading further north later in the month.

For now, we'll see how the new and old driver sets are performing on our new testbed and hope that we can see the performance jump that ATI say is here.

Let's get started!


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 10.3 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 20 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 13 IMAGES


HD 5770 - In both presets we can see a nice bump in performance.

HD 5850 - In both presets we can see a nice bump in performance.

HD 5870 - In both presets we can see a nice bump in performance.

HD 5970 - In both presets we can see a nice bump in performance.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark (DX11)

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 1
Developer Homepage: http://www.unigine.com
Product Homepage: http://unigine.com/press-releases/091022-heaven_benchmark/



New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

DirectX 11

ATI Catalyst 10.3 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 21 | TweakTown.com


HD 5770 - In both presets we can see a nice bump in performance.

HD 5850 - In both presets we can see a nice bump in performance.

HD 5870 - In both presets we can see a nice bump in performance.

HD 5970 - In both presets we can see a nice bump in performance.

Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5

Version and / or Patch Used: Demo Benchmark
Developer Homepage: www.residentevil.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.residentevil.com/




Resident Evil 5 is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on September 18. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.

ATI Catalyst 10.3 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 22 | TweakTown.com


HD 5770 - Here we see a nice increase in performance.

HD 5850 - Here we see a nice increase in performance.

HD 5870 - Here we see a nice increase in performance.

HD 5970 - Here we see a nice increase in performance.

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 10.3 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 23 | TweakTown.com


ATI Catalyst 10.3 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 24 | TweakTown.com


HD 5770 - The minimum is a bit wobbly, but the average increase is nice.

HD 5850 - The minimum is a bit wobbly, but the average increase is nice.

HD 5870 - The minimum is a bit wobbly, but the average increase is nice.

HD 5970 - The minimum is a bit wobbly, but the average increase is nice.

Benchmarks - Darkest of Days

Darkest of Days

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.4
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.darkestofdays.com/index.php
Product Homepage: http://www.darkestofdays.com/index.php





Darkest of Days takes the player through time into historic battles in an effort to save key individuals from certain death. The battles range from Custer's Last Stand at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876 to fighting in Pompeii as ash and fire rain down from an erupting Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. Other locations include the battles of Antietam and Tannenberg, and a German World War II P.O.W. camp. There are different missions in every time period and the game takes about 4 hours to complete.

The game features over twenty weapons, both from the original time period as well as those brought back from the future. In addition, there are artillery weapons from different time periods to assist in battle.

Note: With the PhysX set to Medium or High Darkest of Days take advantage of the NVIDIA PhysX abilities. For that reason we will test ATI cards at the Low preset, NVIDIA based cards though will be tested at Low and High.

PhysX set to Low w/out PhysX based Card

ATI Catalyst 10.3 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 25 | TweakTown.com


HD 5770 - Here we see no real change.

HD 5850 - Performance here is either the same or slightly up.

HD 5870 - Here we see a nice bump in performance at the lower resolutions.

HD 5970 - Here we see no real change.

Benchmarks - BattleForge

BattleForge

Version and / or Patch Used: Auto Patched at Load
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.battleforge.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.battleforge.com/





The Gods have disappeared and the old sun has died, letting a vile twilight engulf the world of Nyn. In exchange for all treasures the mortals possessed, the evil giants agreed to forge a new sun and hurl it into the sky.

But the deal was betrayed, the treasure stolen and now the mortals flee the wrath of the giants. Under the light of a new sun the mortals stumble into a world changed and twisted by an age of twilight. The long journey home has become a conquest of survival.

Note: Supporting DirectX 11 we have seperated the graphs for NVIDIA and ATI cards. While the numbers between the two brands can be compared you have to make note that ATI based HD 5000 series cards are running DirectX 11.

DirectX 11 (ATI HD 5000 Series Only)

ATI Catalyst 10.3 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 26 | TweakTown.com


HD 5770 - Here we see a small bump in performance.

HD 5850 - Here we see a nice bump in performance at the lower resolutions.

HD 5870 - Here we see a nice bump across the board.

HD 5970 - Here we see a nice bump across the board.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Version and / or Patch Used: Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/UK/default.aspx
Product Homepage: http://www.hawxgame.com/



Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X is an arcade-style flight simulator video game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and iPhone OS.

The fundamental gameplay mechanics are similar to those of other console-based flight series. Players take on enemies with over 50 aircraft available. Each mission is at real world locations in environments created with commercial satellite data. A cockpit, first person, and third person view are selectable. The third person view gives the player an external view of both their plane and the target.

Set above the skies of a near-future world, increasingly dependent on private military companies with elite mercenaries who have a relaxed view on the law. As these non-governmental organizations gain power, global conflict erupts with one powerful PMC attacking the United States.

ATI Catalyst 10.3 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 27 | TweakTown.com


HD 5770 - Here we see a really nice increase in performance.

HD 5850 - Here we see a really nice increase in performance.

HD 5870 - Here we see a really nice increase in performance.

HD 5970 - Here we see a really nice increase in performance.

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.


Resident Evil 5

ATI Catalyst 10.3 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 28 | TweakTown.com



HD 5850 - Here we see a small bump in performance.

HD 5870 - Here we see a small bump in performance.

HD 5970 - Here we see a small bump in performance.


Far Cry 2

ATI Catalyst 10.3 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 29 | TweakTown.com


ATI Catalyst 10.3 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 30 | TweakTown.com



HD 5850 - The minimum has dropped slightly, but with these settings it makes no difference to the card.

HD 5870 - We've got a nice bump in the minimum; unfortunately we're still far away from that 30 FPS minimum we need.

HD 5970 - Here we see a small bump in performance.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

ATI has delivered the goods. Speaking to a few people, they wondered if ATI had been holding the driver back for the release of the GTX 400 series. To be honest, I think what we're seeing today is months of hard work finally coming to show. You combine these performance improvements with the new features mentioned on the front page and you've got one of the best driver sets we've seen to date from ATI.

I think you can also probably thank NVIDIA for these drivers as well. The constant delays, rumors of bad yields, rumors of poor performance and more have given ATI the time to really improve on the HD 5000 series products. They haven't needed to work on new products which is great.

ATI has done a fantastic job and it's nice to see that even lower end models like the HD 5770 series receive improvements. Looking at the notes as well, we see that they've even given some love to the HD 4800 series which is great for people on older cards. It's clear that ATI has harnessed not only more power from the HD 5000 series, but some from your system or the games on offer to be able to offer improvements in the older models.

If you want to get in on the 10.3 action now you can head over here or you can simply wait for the WHQL driver due out early next week.

Until next month, may all your frame rates be high and your games good fun!

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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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