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Catalyst 11.9 Windows 7 Driver Analysis

AMD has just released a new Catalyst 11.9 driver for Radeon graphics cards - we check out performance under Windows 7.
@ShawnBakerTW
Shawn Baker
Published Thu, Sep 29 2011 10:29 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:30 PM CDT
Manufacturer: Game.AMD

Introduction & Release Note Highlights

Catalyst 11.9 Windows 7 Driver Analysis

Introduction

Talk about cutting it fine this month. Literally just days before the end of the month, AMD finally release the latest Catalyst driver release. The worst thing is, like me, most people probably don't really care about it as just a few days earlier a pre-release 11.10 driver came out which brought with it a focus on Battlefield 3.

What makes the driver probably not stand out even more is the fact that when you fire up the release notes, we've got no mention of any kind of performance increases on offer. As always, though, we take the time to go through the latest driver on a couple of cards and see just what kind of performance we get from the driver when compared to the previous month's one.

There's really not much more that needs to be said. We'll check out the testbed we're using today before we just get stuck straight into the performance side of things then wrap everything up.

So with that all said and done, let's not delay any longer and just get into it to see what's happening.

Test System Setup

Catalyst 11.9 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?

With no changes to the testbed from last month, let's just get into the testing of the latest driver.

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

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 11.9 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 20 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6970 - In both presets we see a slight bump in performance.

HD 6990 - In the Performance preset we see a slight bump in performance here.

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 11.9 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 21 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6970 - Across the board you can see we've got some extra FPS on hand.

HD 6990 - We can see at all resolutions there's a little bit of movement.

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 11.9 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 11.9 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 11.9 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 24 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6970 - At the lower resolution we can see a couple of extra FPS, but nothing major.

HD 6990 - At the lower resolution we can see a couple of extra FPS, but nothing major.

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 11.9 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 25 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6970 - Across the board we can see a couple of extra FPS.

HD 6990 - At the lower resolution we can see a couple extra FPS, but nothing much as we move up the resolution table.

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 11.9 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 26 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - We can see a bit of a boost at 1920 x 1200, but across the board there's mainly just some fluctuation.

HD 6970 - At the higher resolutions we can see a bit of a boost in performance.

HD 6990 - 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.

Catalyst 11.9 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 27 | TweakTown.com
Catalyst 11.9 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

Final Thoughts

For the most part there isn't much to see with this driver except for the fact Lost Planet 2 managed to see some good gains in certain areas - especially when looking at 1680 x 1050. Outside of that, though, there's really nothing else much here.

If there was ever a driver that was released to just give you the impression that AMD are releasing particular versions of the driver to keep up with the whole "WHQL Driver Monthly" thing, then this is one of them.

If you're going to jump on the BF3 Beta bandwagon which is now officially open to everyone, you're going to get yourself the new preview driver as it has a couple of extra optimizations for the game. It also should carry any of the improvements we see here today alongside the fixes that are on offer.

The 11.9 is a good driver set, but the problem is it's made almost completely redundant with the 11.10 beta that has shown up. If you prefer to stick to the WHQL side of things, sure, make the jump. If you want to get the best AMD driver available at the moment, especially when it comes to BF3, then just skip this one and go straight for the 11.10.

To be honest, half of you have probably already done that anyway. So, it's time to get back to the BF3 beta and own some noobs....or at least try.

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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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