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AMD Catalyst 11.6 Windows 7 Driver Analysis

AMD has just released a new Catalyst 11.6 driver for Radeon graphics cards - we check out performance under Windows 7.
@ShawnBakerTW
Shawn Baker
Published Thu, Jun 16 2011 1:53 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:30 PM CDT
Manufacturer: Game.AMD

Introduction

Catalyst 11.6 Windows 7 Driver Analysis


Introduction

As we roll into the halfway mark for 2011, we see the latest iterations of the Catalyst drivers from AMD come in the form of the Catalyst 11.6. A little earlier than expected, the latest drivers seem to bring some nice features to the table as well as some promises of extra performance.

With a fair bit on offer from the latest drivers, we won't spend any more time blabbing on about them and instead we'll just get into some of the highlights from the release notes; then we'll take a quick look at our testbed and check out the performance of the latest drivers.


New Features

AMD Steady Video

- Steady Video is currently an AMD exclusive feature based on AMD APP Technology
- By applying advanced algorithms behind the scenes, users do not have to deal with shaky or unstable video ever again!
- Capabilities scale with hardware and are end user controlled

Image Stabilization brought to YouTube!

Decode Acceleration of MPEG-4 part 2 content

- AMD has enabled decode acceleration of MPEG-4 part 2 content in Microsoft video player applications (through MFT support) for all AMD Radeon 6000 Series

Performance Enhancements

Crysis - of up to 7% on AMD Radeon HD 6000 series single card configurations.
F1 2010 - of up to 8% in DirectX 11 mode on AMD Radeon HD 6000 series products in single and Crossfire configurations.
Far Cry 2 - of up to 5% on AMD Radeon HD 6000 series products in single and Crossfire configurations.
HAWX - of up to 8% on AMD Radeon HD 6000 series products in single and Crossfire configurations.
Unigine - OpenGL tests of up to 10% on AMD Radeon HD 6000 series single card configurations.

Test System Setup and 3DMark 11

AMD Catalyst 11.6 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.

Nothing has changed since the last time we looked at the Catalyst drivers, so there's really not much that has to be said. So let's just get into the performance side of things and see how the new 11.6s compare against the 11.5s we looked at last month.

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 11.6 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 20 | TweakTown.com


HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6870 - You can see a clear boost in performance with the new 11.6 release from AMD. Hopefully these gains translate into some extra performance in games as well.

HD 5870 - Here we see no real change.

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 11.6 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 21 | TweakTown.com


HD 6970 - At both resolutions we can see a slight boost in performance when comparing the latest 11.6 driver to last month's 11.5.

HD 6870 - Just like 3DMark 11, we can see a clear boost 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 11.6 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 22 | TweakTown.com


HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6870 - Across the board we can see an extra couple of FPS with the latest Catalyst release.

HD 5870 - Performance seems to be just down slightly; nothing too major, though.

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 11.6 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 23 | TweakTown.com


HD 6970 - Across the board we can see a nice little performance increase from the latest drivers.

HD 6870 - Across the board we're able to see some really good gains with the latest 11.6 driver.

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 11.6 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 24 | TweakTown.com


HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6870 - We continue to see that nice boost in performance and you can see that the extra couple of FPS helps boost our 1680 x 1050 average to the minimum 60FPS we love to see.

HD 5870 - Across the board we've got an FPS or two. At 1920 x 1200 we can see that the extra FPS helps us move from that 59 FPS average to the magical 60 FPS we always aim for.

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 11.6 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 25 | TweakTown.com


HD 6970 - Under Far Cry 2 we can see some really strong performance gains at 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050. At the highest resolution they drop off a little, but we do see a slight boost to the average.

HD 6870 - Again across the board we see some really nice gains. While we've already got good FPS coming from the HD 6870, more performance is always appreciated.

HD 5870 - Across the board we can see some really strong performance gains from the latest driver. The best gain is seen at the higher 2560 x 1600 resolution with a big jump in the minimum.

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 11.6 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 26 | TweakTown.com


AMD Catalyst 11.6 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 27 | TweakTown.com


AMD Catalyst 11.6 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 28 | TweakTown.com


HD 6970 - We can see a couple of extra FPS here; the best gains come under Far Cry 2 which doesn't surprise us as it saw some great gains in our non AA tests.

HD 6870 - Turning on AA and AF, we can see across the board we've got a couple of FPS here and there. It's good to see the positive FPS trend is seen when we really crank up the detail.

HD 5870 - Apart from a bit of positive movement in Far Cry 2, we don't see too much change with the latest driver.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

The new Catalyst 11.6 driver from AMD was a lot better than I thought it would be. I thought much like the 11.5 driver we'd have some bug fixes and not much else. Along with some new features that help improve your videos by fixing camera shake, we've got some awesome performance improvements with the HD 6000 series cards.

Getting a bit more specific on the improvements, it's clear that they seem to mainly benefit the HD 6000 cards. While we did see some gains for the HD 5870, for the most part they weren't as strong as the gains we saw from the HD 6970, but probably more so the HD 6870 which sees some really good gains and sees the FPS pop into that 60 FPS realm that we like to see.

Outside of what we've just seen here today, users are already reporting increased stability with games that were having issues last month along with more performance. Normally when we see such a major driver like the 11.4 it takes months before we see something that comes close to wowing us, but this is a fantastic driver that has come just two months after the much loved 11.4 suite.

For the most part I can't see a reason not to move to the latest version. It's getting positive feedback from us and it seems that a lot of users who have jumped straight on them are also happy with them.

So with that all said and done, let's leave it at that and see what the next Catalyst set brings us in July as we hit the second half of the year.

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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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