AMD Catalyst 12.2 Windows 7 Driver Analysis

AMD has just released a new Catalyst 12.2 driver for Radeon graphics cards - we check out performance under Windows 7.
@TweakTown
Published Thu, Mar 8 2012 11:32 AM CST   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Manufacturer: Game.AMD

Introduction and Release Note Highlights

Catalyst 11.12 Windows 7 Driver Analysis

Well it was only a matter of time until AMD missed a month in their monthly driver and while the Catalyst 12.2 driver today is the "February" driver, the bottom line is that it didn't come out in February, instead it came out this month - March.

I hate to say it, but since Terry Makedon left the AMD driver team it just hasn't felt the same and if there was any situation that would cause AMD to miss a month it was going to be that and while it's been a while since he left, they work so far ahead that it was going to take time for the cracks to begin to show.

This February the company also had an extra day thanks to the leap year, and they still didn't hit it. While AMD released a "Pre-Certified" version of the driver earlier in the month, which they say is exactly the same; it just doesn't have the Windows logo. The bottom line is they've prided themselves that for some odd 7 years they've offered a WHQL driver every month.

Word is we'll see the 12.3 driver towards the end of March which will probably put them back on track with the monthly releases - but now that they've missed one, who knows if it will happen again. Anyway that's enough of that, let's quickly check out the release notes highlights from the latest driver to see what's going on and then get into the performance side of things.

Release Notes Highlights

Windows 7 and Windows Vista support for the AMD Radeon HD 7900 Series and AMD Radeon HD 7700 Series

Enables support for Windows 7 64-bit/32-bit and Windows Vista 64-bit/32-bit.

- Super Sampling Anti-Aliasing is now available for DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 applications

- Supported on the AMD Radeon HD 7900 and AMD Radeon HD 7700 Series.

- Users can now enable Super Sample Anti-Aliasing and Adaptive Anti-Aliasing through the AMD Catalyst Control Center for DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 applications.

- Applications must support in game Anti-Aliasing for the feature to work (Forced on Anti-Aliasing through the Catalyst Control Center is not supported for DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 applications).

AMD Eyefinity 2.1 technology enhancements

- Custom resolutions - users can now choose from a much larger set of display resolutions for their AMD Eyefinity configurations.

- Dynamic Configuration Changes: Switching between different display configurations (when physically plugging/un-plugging displays) will occur automatically by loading the appropriate profile.

- HydraVision enhancements: The Windows Task bar can now be moved and resized based on users preference.

- Profile Manager improvements: Users can now create multiple Display profiles, enabling users to seamlessly switch between various AMD Eyefinity and Display Configurations.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup

AMD Catalyst 12.2 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.

With probably one of the bigger highlights being that this is the first WHQL driver to bring support to the HD 7900 series and the HD 7700 series, we've added the HD 7970 into our testing mix today alongside the HD 6970 and HD 6870.

Over the coming months we'll start to transition out of the HD 6000 series into the HD 7000 series as we see AMD shift focus to the new HD 7000 series.

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.

Benchmarks - 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.

AMD Catalyst 12.2 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 20 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 7970 - In both presets we can see a slight bump in performance. Nothing too major, though.

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."

AMD Catalyst 12.2 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 21 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - At 1680 x 1050 we can see a slight boost while 1920 x 1200 shows no change.

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

HD 7970 - We can see a little bit of fluctuation across the board with an extra FPS at the highest, a couple at the lowest and an FPS less at 1920 x 1200.

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 12.2 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 22 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Here we see no change.

HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 7970 - Across the board we can see a nice little boost with the latest driver which helps put us a single FPS away from that 60 FPS average at the highest resolution.

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.

AMD Catalyst 12.2 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 23 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 7970 - 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.

AMD Catalyst 12.2 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 24 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Here we see an extra couple of FPS across the board.

HD 6970 - Here we see an extra couple of FPS across the board.

HD 7970 - Across the board we can see an extra couple of FPS which helps bring us ever closer to that 60 FPS average we want at the highest resolution.

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.

AMD Catalyst 12.2 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 25 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 7970 - Across the board we again see a nice little bump in performance and it helps give us a bit more breathing room at the highest resolution.

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 12.2 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 26 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 7970 - Across the board we can see a bit of positive movements in all our numbers. We don't really need it under FarCry 2, but we're not going to complain.

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 12.2 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 27 | TweakTown.com
AMD Catalyst 12.2 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 28 | TweakTown.com

HD 6870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 6970 - We can see a little bit of a boost under FarCry 2, but nothing under Aliens vs. Predator.

HD 7970 - Nice boost in both our games here, but more importantly a boost that helps push our Alien vs. Predator AA / AF numbers over the 60 FPS mark. Something the launch driver didn't do.

Final Thoughts

The first thing I want to say is that this is a good driver and you should run out and install it as soon as possible. It doesn't even matter if you're on a HD 7000 series card or older HD 6000 series one, you can see performance improvements under both scenarios.

With that said, the same gains aren't being seen on the HD 6000 series and that's not a surprise as AMD are of course going to shift their focus over to the new HD 7000 series. For that reason you'll see us start to transition out of the HD 6000 series testing in the coming Catalyst tests and replace them with new HD 7000 series cards.

With that out the way, though, I still find myself so disappointed with AMD. Not only is the 12.2 driver over a week late, it's ruined the awesome driver hot streak that AMD was on and it gets detected as the 12.3 driver under GPUz. We're not sure if that's a GPUz issue or this is literally the 12.3 driver that is going to come out later this month.

Either way it's really disappointing and it feels like there's some cracks beginning to appear in the AMD driver team - a team that has been strong for years and such an important one for AMD. No matter what you said, you could always say that like clockwork AMD will release a WHQL driver that will fix current issues every month.

Well finally it's no longer like clockwork. Maybe AMD will hit every other driver release this month in that month, but at the end of the year, instead of doing it for eight years it would be for 10 months.

I know that AMD would also say that the pre-certified driver is exactly the same as what we're seeing today except the fact that it doesn't have the Windows logo. Well, that's not really the point, is it? This is a great driver none the less and again you should be installing it no matter what AMD Radeon video card you're on. For me, though, it's the February 2012 driver that didn't come out till March.

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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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