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Catalyst 11.11 Windows 7 Driver Analysis

AMD has just released a new Catalyst 11.11 driver for Radeon graphics cards - we check out performance under Windows 7.
@ShawnBakerTW
Shawn Baker
Published Wed, Nov 16 2011 5:54 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:30 PM CDT
Manufacturer: Game.AMD

Introduction & Release Note Highlights

Catalyst 11.11 Windows 7 Driver Analysis

Introduction

This popped up a little out of nowhere. To be honest with how late we got the 11.10 Catalyst drivers from AMD last month, I'd figure we'd probably be getting these ones at the last minute as well. At the same time, it doesn't surprise me too much, though, that we're seeing them in the middle of the month.

No doubt AMD don't want to get into a pattern of releasing them at the absolute last minute of the month, especially more so with the next driver coming hopefully before Christmas next month, ideally before the 17th when I take my first holidays for the year.

When I saw the email come in that the driver was ready for download, one thing went through my head - another driver with no performance difference. Firing up the release notes, you'll quickly discover that my assumption was pretty much spot on.

Looking through the release notes, you're not going to see anything that really stands out with the main highlight for the drive being Flash Player 11 Support for GPU acceleration. Apart from that, there's not much else to say. Of course, that doesn't mean that there are no performance improvements, so let's look at the testbed and then get stuck into our lineup of benchmarks to see what's going on.

Test System Setup

Catalyst 11.11 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 11.11 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 11.11 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 21 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6970 - At the lower resolutions we can see movement is a little up and down.

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 11.11 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 11.11 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 11.11 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 24 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6970 - At 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050 we can see a little bit of a bump in performance.

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 11.11 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 11.11 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 26 | 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 - 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 11.11 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 27 | TweakTown.com
Catalyst 11.11 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 28 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6970 - AvP sees no real change, but Far Cry 2 falls back just slightly.

HD 6990 - AvP sees no real change, but Far Cry 2 falls back just slightly.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Well that's another month of Catalyst out and another month with no promises to performance. Saying that, there's a little bit of movement under Metro 2033, but apart from that we don't really see much change across the board at all.

It's going to be interesting to see what happens in December. We have to be honest, the last few months for Catalyst drivers have been pretty boring; this isn't the first time we've seen this from AMD, though, as sometimes we see this as they're building up to something bigger.

The big problem is that we haven't really heard about anything. Normally we would hear about a longer list of features coming in a future driver. This happened earlier in the year and it happened when we first saw Bezel Composition come in etc. Normally we'd be getting leaks about the improvements that are coming. It's been really quiet on the Catalyst front lately, however.

12 months ago we heard that Terry Makedon had left the Catalyst team and joined the Fusion one, and the other week I heard someone say that the Catalyst drivers just haven't been the same since he left. Normally I wouldn't like to agree with that, but if you really do look back at the drivers over the last few months, they just haven't been the same and while it has been 12 months since he left, no doubt the plans for drivers are probably a good six months ahead.

I've got our fingers crossed that we see something special for the last Catalyst driver of the year, but I'm not sure we're going to really see much. Like I said, if there was something major coming, we'd no doubt probably know about it by now.

The last thing I want to say, though, before we leave is, at what point will the Catalyst drivers stop installing to an "ATI" folder? - Surely it's not that hard to change it from ATI to AMD. It's been long enough now, I just don't get why every time we install the Catalyst driver it continues to install to the ATI folder.

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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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