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AMD Catalyst 11.1 Windows 7 Driver Analysis

AMD has just released a new Catalyst 11.1 driver for Radeon graphics cards - we check out performance under Windows 7.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Thu, Jan 27 2011 9:32 PM CST   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Manufacturer: Game.AMD

Introduction


CATALYST 11.1 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS




As we roll into another year and the first month comes to a close, it comes as no surprise that we begin to see a new iteration of the Catalyst driver suite. As you would've guessed, we're dealing now with the 11 series driver and being both the first one and the January one, the exact name is the 11.1 driver.

This has been a little weird this time around, as AMD actually released a hot fix version of the driver before the official WHQL one. This is something we're seeing more and more from them and it will be interesting if over time we continue to see "monthly" WHQL drivers, instead of just "monthly" driver updates.

The thing is, over the recent months we've seen the official WHQL driver come followed by a bunch of non WHQL hot fix versions. We know the WHQL process takes time, and we would assume it also costs money, so it will be interesting to see if anything changes in 2011.

With that said, it's almost time to look at the performance the new drivers offer, but let's first just check out some of the highlights from the release notes.


Performance Improvements

F1 2010

- Performance increases up to 12% on AMD Radeon HD 6900 and AMD Radeon HD 6800 Series single card configurations with anisotropic filtering and anti-aliasing disabled.

- Performance increases up to 10% on ATI Radeon HD 5800 Series single card configurations with anisotropic filtering and anti-aliasing disabled.

Left 4 Dead 2

- Performance increases up to 17% on AMD Radeon HD 6800 Series single and Crossfire configurations with anisotropic filtering and anti-aliasing disabled.

- Performance increases up to 8% on AMD Radeon HD 6900 Series single configurations with anisotropic filtering and anti-aliasing disabled.

Test System Setup and 3DMark 11


AMD Catalyst 11.1 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 99 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 10 IMAGES


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

Being a new year, we've made a few little changes to our line-up with the games we test. Of course, we've added 3DMark 11 which will begin to hold more and more weight as time goes on. While it's not the best judge of how a card will perform across all areas, it does help give us a quick general idea of how it compares to other models. We also find that NVIDIA and AMD tend to concentrate a bit on the 3DMark benchmark, so it's always nice to see some gains there.

We've changed the game line-up a little as well, but nothing major, and nothing that you wouldn't have already seen in our standard video card reviews. Of course, the big thing to change, though, is the cards we're testing. We've of course kept the HD 5000 series representation present with the HD 5870, but we've officially added both the HD 6870 and HD 6970 now that they're both supported in the latest driver.

Let's get started!


3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/
Buy It Here




3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

AMD Catalyst 11.1 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 20 | TweakTown.com


HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 5970 - Here we see no real change.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark




Version and / or Patch Used: 2
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.

AMD Catalyst 11.1 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 21 | TweakTown.com


HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 5970 - Here we see no real change.

Benchmarks - Mafia II


Mafia II

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.2kczech.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.mafia2game.com/
Buy It Here




Mafia II is a third-person action-adventure video game, the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. It is developed by 2K Czech, previously known as Illusion Softworks, and is published by 2K Games. The game is set from 1943 to 1951 in Empire Bay (the name is a reference to New York's state nickname "The Empire State"), a fictional city based on San Francisco and New York City, with influences from Chicago and Detroit. The game features a completely open-ended game map of 10 square miles. No restrictions are included from the start of the game. There are around 50 vehicles in the game, as well as licensed music from the era.

AMD Catalyst 11.1 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 22 | TweakTown.com


HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 5970 - Here we see no real change.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2


Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
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. 2 is an arcade-style flight action game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft. The game is the sequel to Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., released in 2009.

The game begins with Colonel David Crenshaw participating in a routine patrol mission in the Middle East. After halting an insurgent attack, a volley of missiles is fired at the Air Force base that Crenshaw was stationed at, with one of the missiles disabling Crenshaw's aircraft, resulting Crenshaw being in enemy captivity. A joint strike force composed of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and a Ghost Recon squad executes an operation to rescue Crenshaw. In Scotland, Royal Navy Pilot Colin Munro encounters an unidentified passenger aircraft that explodes from an on-board bomb when undergoing training exercise. In Russia, an air force squadron led by Colonel Denisov and Captain Dmitri Sokov engages separatist aircraft but is ordered to retreat from the region after numerous Russian military installations have been attacked.

AMD Catalyst 11.1 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 23 | TweakTown.com


HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 5970 - Here we see no real change.

Benchmarks - Aliens vs. Predator


Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.rebellion.co.uk/
Product Homepage: http://www.sega.com/games/aliens-vs-predator/




Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

AMD Catalyst 11.1 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 24 | TweakTown.com


HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 5970 - 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.

AMD Catalyst 11.1 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 25 | TweakTown.com


HD 6970 - Here we actually see the new driver perform a little worse across the board. Only slightly, though.

HD 6870 - Here we actually see the new driver perform a little worse across the board. Only slightly, though.

HD 5970 - Here we actually see the new driver perform a little worse across the board. Only slightly, though.

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.

AMD Catalyst 11.1 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 26 | TweakTown.com


AMD Catalyst 11.1 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 27 | TweakTown.com


AMD Catalyst 11.1 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 28 | TweakTown.com


HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6870 - Aliens vs. Predator sees a slight increase, but nothing to get excited about as we're still at unplayable levels.

HD 5970 - Here we see no real change.

Final Thoughts




The 11.1 driver isn't the most exciting one and to be honest it doesn't come as a surprise. For starters, the 10.12 was a big one thanks to the introduction of that sexy new control center. The other reason is that January tends to be a fairly quiet month as we imagine the Catalyst driver team takes some much deserved time off.

To be honest, though, I think in the coming months we'll see some improvements since NVIDIA have become extremely aggressive, and that's best shown with the release of the new GTX 560 Ti which offers great performance, but more importantly at a great price.

We know that AMD are able to offer us extra performance from the drivers and the HD 6000 series have really only just hit us. In this case this is the first WHQL driver for the HD 6900 series.

The release of a dual GPU HD 6990 will mean strong concentration on Crossfire and tessellation performance is becoming a big thing. AMD have improved it a lot in the HD 6000 series, but I think we'll see them offer some fresh gains with the release of future drivers.

For now, though, it's hopes and dreams. It's probably worth the upgrade, though, for the most part because it's the first WHQL driver for the HD 6900s. There are of course always those little bug fixes that are addressed each month as well.

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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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