AMD Catalyst 12.3 Windows 7 Driver Analysis

AMD has just released a new Catalyst 12.3 driver for Radeon graphics cards - we check out performance under Windows 7.
| Apr 1, 2012 at 10:21 am CDT
Manufacturer: Game.AMD

Introduction and Release Note Highlights

Catalyst 11.12 Windows 7 Driver Analysis

I think the first thing we can say is that it's nice to see that AMD got the Catalyst out on time this month and it did indeed come out during March unlike the Catalyst 12.2 which fell into March.

The second thing is that this is a weird driver release. The Catalyst 12.2 was labeled as 12.3 and it made us wonder a bit. Was AMD just throwing an earlier version of the 12.3 drivers out there to keep up with the monthly schedule? In the end we'll probably never know the truth.

Before we cover the performance side of things, though, with the new drivers let's quickly just look at some of the release note highlights below.

Once that we'll quickly cover our test system and get into our typical Catalyst benchmark line up.

Release Note Highlights

NEW FEATURES

Full Support for AMD Radeon HD 7000 series of products

Catalyst 12.3 now fully supports the AMD Radeon HD 7900, AMD Radeon HD 7800 and AMD Radeon HD 7700 series of products

Resolved Issues for the Windows 7 Operating System

This section provides information on resolved known issues in this release of the AMD Catalyst 12.3 software suite for Windows 7. These include:

AMD Catalyst Control Center startup issues/ delays have been resolved

Tom Clancy HAWX: No longer crashes after task switching with MLAA (Morphological Anti-Aliasing) and Anti-Aliasing enabled

Furmark Benchmark: No longer crashes when launched in High Performance mode.

Quake 4: No longer display corruption after task switching when run in High Performance mode

XPlane: Textures no longer exhibit flicker and corruption

Skyrim: No longer displays flickering and texture corruption.

Alan Wake: A system crash is no longer experienced when running the game in DirectX 9 mode with Crossfire enabled

Far Cry 2: A random system hang is no longer experienced when running the game at high in game setting

Benchmarks - Test System Setup

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.

On the release note side of things there's not a whole lot going on when it comes to any form of performance tweaks. The biggest stand out is probably the fact that this is the first Catalyst driver that includes some of the HD 7000 series line up.

With that being said, we've removed the HD 6870 from our line up and replaced with the HD 7870. That sits along the HD 7970 that we introduced last month and the HD 6970 which will see its last month with us.

From the Catalyst 12.4 driver suite, we'll be using a full HD 7000 series line up with the HD 7770 taking the third place spot from the HD 6970. With that all said, I think we can get into the performance side of things.

Let's get started!

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

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 12.3 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 20 | TweakTown.com

HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 7870 - We can see a slight boost in both presets here, but we'd probably put it more down the fluctuation.

HD 7970 - Here we see no real change.

Benchmarks - 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 12.3 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 21 | TweakTown.com

HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 7870 - We can see a slight boost in performance at the lower resolution, but nothing much changes as we move up.

HD 7970 - 1920 x 1200 seems to have lost a few FPS, but across the board we don't really see any real change.

Benchmarks - 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 12.3 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 22 | TweakTown.com

HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 7870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 7970 - Here we see no real change.

Benchmarks - 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 12.3 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 23 | TweakTown.com

HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 7870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 7970 - Here we see no real change.

Benchmarks - 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 12.3 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 24 | TweakTown.com

HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 7870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 7970 - Here we see no real change.

Benchmarks - 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 12.3 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 25 | TweakTown.com

HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 7870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 7970 - Here we see no real change.

Benchmarks - 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 12.3 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 26 | TweakTown.com

HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 7870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 7970 - Here we see no real change.

Benchmarks - 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 12.3 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 27 | TweakTown.com
AMD Catalyst 12.3 Windows 7 Driver Analysis 28 | TweakTown.com

HD 6970 - Here we see no real change.

HD 7870 - Here we see no real change.

HD 7970 - Here we see no real change.

Final Thoughts

I knew this was going to be a really boring driver to test. A combination of the weirdness that was seen with the Catalyst 12.2 naming earlier in the month and the fact that the release notes really gave us nothing to get excited about, it was fairly safe to assume there wasn't going to be much to get excited about.

The biggest highlight to the driver comes in the form that it now officially supports all AMD Radeon HD 7000 series video cards. So, if you're on one of the original launch or BETA drivers, we'd suggest that you take the time to upgrade.

If you're on the 12.2 driver you also may as well make the move. This isn't a bad driver and as always there are some bug fixes that go along with it. But there's nothing that really stands out. At the same time if you didn't upgrade from the 12.2 set because you found yourself happy with what they are doing, it wouldn't be the end of the world either.

The issue for AMD is that we've now seen two driver releases in a row that leave us feeling a little flat. Alongside NVIDIA releasing the beast that is the GeForce GTX 680 at a super competitive price, AMD has got it a little tough at the moment.

It will be interesting to see what they bring to the table next month as it really feels like they need to do something that helps them stand out for all the right reasons again.

Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:30 pm CDT

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

UKUnited Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk

AUAustralia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au

CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca

DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

ABOUT THE AUTHOR -

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.

Related Tags

Go to top of the page