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Catalyst 11.12 Windows 7 Driver Analysis

AMD has just released a new Catalyst 11.12 driver for Radeon graphics cards - we check out performance under Windows 7.
@TweakTown
Published Wed, Dec 14 2011 5:03 AM CST   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Manufacturer: Game.AMD

Introduction & Release Note Highlights

Catalyst 11.12 Windows 7 Driver Analysis

I shouldn't be doing this at the moment; instead I should be packing for my holidays, but after discovering that we haven't missed a Catalyst Driver Analysis in seven years, I didn't want this to be the first one.

So with that said, we'll move with haste and just get stuck into the performance side of things to see what exactly is going on with the latest driver set from AMD - the Catalyst 11.12. Quickly before we do that, though, we need to check out the release notes.

To be honest, going through the release notes, you're not going to see anything that stands out too much. We've got some improvements in some areas and as always we find ourselves with a decent list of resolved issues, but on the performance side of things we're not seeing a whole lot.

Still, we never know, sometimes we get into our line-up and find the odd performance bump here and there, so with that all said and done, let's just get stuck into it and find out if we've got any performance increase since our last driver set.

Test System Setup

Catalyst 11.12 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.

Like our video card testing, we've also moved our Catalyst testing over to the new X79 platform. Before we move on, though, we'd normally do our testing with the HD 6870, HD 6970 and HD 6990.

Because nothing wants to go right just before I leave for my break, though, the HD 6990 is freezing up in many games etc. For that reason we've skipped it and just stuck with the two single GPU offerings.

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 11.12 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 20 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6970 - 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 11.12 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 21 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6970 - 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 11.12 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 22 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6970 - 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 11.12 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 23 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - A little bit of negative movement at the lower resolution, but nothing you should be worried about.

HD 6970 - 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 11.12 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 24 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Both resolutions see a slight drop with the higher 1920 x 1200 being slightly more noticeable.

HD 6970 - 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 11.12 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 25 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Here we see quite the drop with the new driver.

HD 6970 - 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 11.12 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 26 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - At the lower resolutions we actually see a slight drop in performance.

HD 6970 - 1920 x 1200 sees a little bit of extra performance; aside from that there's not much to get excited about, though.

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 11.12 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 27 | TweakTown.com
Catalyst 11.12 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 28 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - AvP sees no real change, but Far Cry 2 falls back just slightly in the average.

HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

Final Thoughts

Don't waste your time with them, honestly! You know that when AMD release the following months driver, the Catalyst 12.1 in a preview, they don't really want you to worry about the official new one. We know this, because this isn't the first time they've done it. The 11.12 driver is actually worse than the 11.11c driver that has more fixes in it.

The issue is that AMD have almost come to a point where they are just doing WHQL drivers monthly, simply because they said they would. It's great that they do it, but the issue is that the revisions of the WHQL that aren't WHQL end up being the better option and they can come literally days after the official one.

With it seeming pretty set that we're going to see the new HD 7000 series card in January, I can honestly understand why not much is going on with the last few sets of drivers. For that reason, though, they should just concentrate on releasing up to date drivers that fix stuff, more so than worrying about these WHQL drivers.

I really like AMD, I've made that clear so many times. The direction they take in some areas, though, confuses me. We're seeing more and more people ask why they're bothering with WHQL drivers when they release an improved BETA days later. Who knows? Ultimately, it doesn't really matter.

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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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