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Catalyst 11.8 Windows 7 Driver Analysis

AMD has just released a new Catalyst 11.8 driver for Radeon graphics cards - we check out performance under Windows 7.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Sat, Aug 20 2011 4:52 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:01 PM CST
Manufacturer: Game.AMD

Introduction & Release Note Highlights

Catalyst 11.8 Windows 7 Driver Analysis

Introduction

As we're rolling towards the second half of August, we saw the other day that AMD released its Catalyst 11.8 driver suite a bit quicker than when I initially thought it would be. To be honest, though, if you think about the fact that when we saw the release of the WHQL 11.7 driver suite we also saw the beta preview of the 11.8s, AMD no doubt were getting close to having the 11.8s ready, so again, the fact that they're a little earlier than normal doesn't come as too much of a surprise.

I was a little slower this month than previous months due to the fact that I didn't expect the drivers so early, but even more so due to the fact that everything had to be retested as we move over to our new testbed and benchmark line up.

While our games might not always be specific to the performance highlights, with so many games using similar engines we quite often find that a gain promised in one area can also be shown in another. Of course, there's always the opportunity to drop us a line and let us know your own experience, good or bad.

So with that all that said and done, let's take a look at some of the release note highlights before we take a closer look at our testbed and get into the performance side of things.

Release Note Highlights

New Features

AMD Overdrive has been enhanced to include both CPU and GPU over-clocking controls within the AMD Vision Control Center

CPU over-clocking is only supported on AMD Black edition CPUs

Performance Highlights

Improves performance up to 10% in Crysis 2 DirectX 11 version for both non-Anti-Aliasing, and application enabled Anti-Aliasing cases on the AMD Radeon HD 6000 and AMD Radeon HD 5000 Series

Improves performance up to 8% in Fear 3 DirectX 11 version with application enabled Anti-Aliasing on the AMD Radeon HD 6000 and AMD Radeon HD 5000 Series

Improves performance up to 30% when AMD's Morphological Anti-Aliasing (MLAA) is enabled through the Catalyst Control Center on the AMD Radeon HD 6000 and AMD Radeon HD 5000 Series

Improves performance up to 20% in Call of Duty Black Operations for single GPU and Multi-GPU configurations on the AMD Radeon HD 6000 and AMD Radeon HD 5000 Series

Test System Setup and Overclock

Catalyst 11.8 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, ASUS, MSI, Western Digital and Corsair.

Why do you use a Z68 platform with x8 / x8 instead of an X58 one with x16 / x16? Z68 vs X58 - Which is The Better Gaming Platform?

We're today of course using our new Z68 testbed that you may have seen us use in the past week or two. At 5.2GHz the 2600k performs stronger than our previous X58 platform and if you're interested in finding out more, I recommend that you check out the article above.

As for the card and benchmark line up, we've gotten rid of the HD 5870 which we've been using for the past few months and included the HD 6990. With word that stock is going to become available again soon, it's a worthy addition to the lineup. Along with that, though, it also helps us implement CrossFire testing into the lineup.

The benchmark line up is also modified and offers a spread of really intensive games like Lost Planet 2 and Metro 2033 while including old favorites like Far Cry 2. Like we've already mentioned, our line up doesn't always include games that are targeted in the Performance Highlights, but we use a broad range of engines and hopefully some of the gains are seen in the lineup.

Let's get started!

The FPS Numbers Explained

When we benchmark our video cards and look at the graphs, we aim to get to a certain level of FPS which we consider playable. While many may argue that the human eye can't see over 24 FPS or 30 FPS, any true gamer will tell you that as we climb higher in Frames Per Seconds (FPS), the overall gameplay feels smoother. There are three numbers we're looking out for when it comes to our benchmarks.

30 FPS - It's the minimum number we aim for when it comes to games. If you're not dropping below 30 FPS during games, you're going to have a nice and smooth gaming experience. The ideal situation is that even in a heavy fire fight, the minimum stays above 30 FPS making sure that you can continue to aim easily or turn the corner with no dramas.

60 FPS - It's the average we look for when we don't have a minimum coming at us. If we're getting an average of 60 FPS, we should have a minimum of 30 FPS or better and as mentioned above, it means we've got some smooth game play happening.

120 FPS - The new number that we've been hunting down over recent months. If you're the owner of a 120 Hz monitor, to get the most out of it you want to get around the 120 FPS mark. Moving from 60 FPS / 60 Hz to 120 FPS / 120 Hz brings with it a certain fluidity that can't really be explained, but instead has to be experienced. Of course, if you're buying a 120 Hz monitor to take advantage of 3D, an average of 120 FPS in our benchmark means that in 3D you will have an average of 60 FPS, which again means you should expect some smooth gameplay.

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1

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.

Catalyst 11.8 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 20 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6990 - Here we see no real change.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Test A Scene 1

Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.lostplanet2game.com/

Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition which is also made by Capcom, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. The story takes place back on E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. The snow has melted to reveal jungles and more tropical areas that have taken the place of more frozen regions. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates. After destroying a mine, the Mercenaries continue on to evacuate the area, in which a Category-G Akrid appears and attacks them. After being rescued, they find out their evacuation point (Where the Category-G appeared) was a set-up and no pick up team awaited them. The last words imply possible DLC additions to the game, "There's nothing to be gained by wiping out snow pirates... unless you had some kind of grudge."

Catalyst 11.8 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 21 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6990 - 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.

Catalyst 11.8 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 22 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6990 - Here we see no real change.

Benchmarks - Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.2

Timedemo or Level Used: Dark Tower

Developer Homepage: http://www.eidos.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.justcause.com/

Just Cause 2 employs the Avalanche Engine 2.0, an updated version of the engine used in Just Cause. The game is set on the other side of the world from the original Just Cause, on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. Panau has varied terrain, from desert to alpine to rainforest. Rico Rodriguez returns as the protagonist, aiming to overthrow the evil dictator Pandak "Baby" Panay and confront his former mentor, Tom Sheldon.

Catalyst 11.8 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 23 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6990 - Here we see no real change.

Benchmarks - Metro 2033

Metro 2033

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.4a-games.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.thqnordic.com/

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.[3] In March 2006, 4A Games announced a partnership with Glukhovsky to collaborate on the game.[4] The game was announced at the 2009 Games Convention in Leipzig;[5] a first trailer came along with the announcement.[6] A sequel was announced, currently titled Metro: Last Light.

Catalyst 11.8 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 24 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6990 - Here we see no real change.

Benchmarks - Dirt 3

Dirt 3

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.codemasters.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.dirt3game.com/

DiRT 3 boasts more cars, more locations, more routes and more events than any other game in the series, including over 50 rally cars representing the very best from five decades of the sport. With more than double the track content of 2009's hit, DiRT 3 will see players start at the top as a professional driver, with a top-flight career in competitive off-road racing complimented by the opportunity to express themselves in Gymkhana-style showpiece driving events.

Catalyst 11.8 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 25 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6990 - 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.

Catalyst 11.8 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 26 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - We can see a little bit of movement, but nothing that will actually effect performance.

HD 6970 - We can see a little bit of movement, but nothing that will actually effect performance.

HD 6990 - We can see a little bit of movement, but nothing that will actually effect 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.

Catalyst 11.8 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 27 | TweakTown.com
Catalyst 11.8 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 28 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6990 - Here we see no real change.

Final Thoughts

While AMD promise us some changes, we unfortunately don't see them here today in our benchmark line up which is a little disappointing. We only have so much time to do our testing, though, and there's always such a variance in the games that are concentrated on when it comes to adding more performance.

As we mentioned in the introduction, if you experience a boost in some games, or even a drop, make sure you drop us a line below in the comments so other readers can see what they should be expecting.

Outside of the performance promises, though, we've got some feature improvements which include some changes to overdrive. As you saw on the first page, AMD have added the ability to also overclock your CPU via the Catalyst Control Center. Before you think you will jump in now, though, and overclock your 2600k, it's worth noting that the feature is of course not only limited to AMD CPUs, but also Black Edition versions.

While a little limited with what can be done here, it's a good move and I think we'll see the Catalyst Control Center become more and more useful as time goes on. With the introduction of the new Bulldozer platform, the push to put people in the CCC more is going to be a good thing.

Again, while we don't see the performance boost today, the new Catalyst 11.8 set looks to be a good one. Outside of the performance improvements and the new CCC features, there's also going to be the normal array of bug fixes and if you've been having trouble with a previous driver set, it's worth checking out the release notes.

To be honest, though, I think that a lot of people would already be on the 11.8 Beta and if that's running fine, you could well skip the official WHQL version and just see what the 11.9 series will bring out next month which will mark the end of Q3.

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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.

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