AMD Catalyst 11.4 Windows 7 Driver Analysis

AMD has just released a new Catalyst 11.4 driver for Radeon graphics cards - we check out performance under Windows 7.
| Apr 28, 2011 at 10:07 pm CDT
Manufacturer: Game.AMD

Introduction

CATALYST 11.4 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS


Introduction

Unless you've been living under a rock, you would know that the release of the Catalyst 11.4s has been anticipated as one of the most significant ones from AMD in many months. We've actually been using the 11.4 driver for months in the form of the HD 6990 Beta and new models that launched after the HD 6990 carried with them slightly modified versions of the 11.4.

Today, though, we've got a WHQL version and we'll of course be comparing it to the 11.3 driver which while we thought was better than the 11.2s, wasn't as much of a stand out as the 11.4 betas that we'd been using.

Before we get into the performance side of things, let's first check out what some of the new features are that AMD have implemented along with taking a closer look at the performance improvements that they're telling us we should receive.


New Features

Enhancements to the AMD VISION Engine Control Center / AMD Catalyst Control Center

New task based Display Management controls
Simplifies the configuration of displays and display settings
New Eyefinity setup group
Setting up an Eyefinity group has never been easier
AMD Catalyst update notification (found within the Information Center)
This feature notifies users that new AMD Catalyst software packages are available

GPU Compute enhancements

The OpenCL runtime (included in AMD Catalyst 11.4) includes performance enhancements supporting zero-copy on APUs and increased performance for PCIe transfers between a CPU and discrete GPU.


Performance Enhancements

A number of performance enhancements are seen with the AMD Radeon HD 6900 Series and AMD Radeon HD 6800 Series:

Call of Duty Black Ops - gains of up to 15% with Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering on single GPU configurations.

Battleforge - gains of up to 15% with Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering on single and multiple GPU configurations.

Batman Arkham Asylum - gains of up to 20% with Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering on single and multiple GPU configurations.

Aliens vs. Predator - gains of up to 8% with Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering on single and multiple GPU configurations.

Civilization 5 - gains of up to 15% on single and multiple GPU configurations.

Far Cry 2 - gains of up to 6% on single and multiple GPU configurations.

Just Cause 2 - gains of up to 9% on single and multiple GPU configurations.

Lost Planet 2 - gains of up to 10% on single and multiple GPU configurations.

Test System Setup and 3DMark 11

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.

Nothing has changed when it comes to the overall testbed, so we'll just get stuck straight into it and see what's going on with 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 11.4 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 20 | TweakTown.com


HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6870 - Here we see a slight boost in performance, but nothing major.

HD 5870 - Here we see a slight boost in performance, but nothing major.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

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 11.4 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 21 | TweakTown.com


HD 6970 - We see a really nice boost in performance here for the HD 6970.

HD 6870 - We manage to see a little bump in performance at both resolutions.

HD 5870 - 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 11.4 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 22 | TweakTown.com


HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 5870 - 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 11.4 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 23 | TweakTown.com


HD 6970 - Across the board we manage to see a really nice performance boost.

HD 6870 - Across the board we manage to see a really nice performance boost.

HD 5870 - 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 11.4 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 24 | TweakTown.com


HD 6970 - Across the board we see a little bump in performance. It's nothing too major, but when we're close to that 60 FPS average the extra FPS is indeed always appreciated.

HD 6870 - Across the board we see a little bump in performance. The increase at 1680 x 1060 to 60 FPS is the best, as we do see our HD 6870 hit that 60 FPS mark we want it to.

HD 5870 - 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 11.4 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 25 | TweakTown.com


HD 6970 - Across the board we see some strong performance gains at all resolutions. They're not too needed, but extra performance is indeed always appreciated.

HD 6870 - Across the board we see some strong performance gains at all resolutions. They're not too needed, but extra performance is indeed always appreciated.

HD 5870 - 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.

AMD Catalyst 11.4 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 26 | TweakTown.com


AMD Catalyst 11.4 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 27 | TweakTown.com


AMD Catalyst 11.4 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 28 | TweakTown.com


HD 6970 - We manage to see some extra FPS across the board; some games see more than others, though.

HD 6870 - We manage to see some extra FPS across the board; some games see more than others, though.

HD 5870 - While Mafia II and AvP don't see much, we do see a nice boost in Far Cry 2.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

This is a great driver and there's a reason we've been using it for the past few months in beta form. There's not really anything else that has to be said about it to be honest. There are some strong performance gains in the games we test and AMD promise more. We'd also tend to believe them, because with some strong gains under Heaven and HAWX 2 we believe that under tessellation heavy games like Lost Planet 2 the gains that AMD promise would also be present.

There's really no good reason not to be installing these drivers. If you're on the 11.4 betas like a lot of people have been for the past few months, you may as well move to the WHQL version that's out now. If you're on the 11.3s or older then you may as well upgrade, because this are just a better driver.

AMD have done a good job with the driver, but really it comes as no surprise to us, because as we said we've been using the beta for a while. It's indeed nice to see a proper WHQL hit the market and it will be interesting to see what AMD offer next month with the 11.5s. To be honest, I wouldn't expect much, but we'll of course see a little something from them with probably nothing more than some bug fixes in games. For now, I don't see us moving off the 11.4s any time soon.

Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:30 pm CDT

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR -

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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