IntroductionWith the release of the new X1K series of cards from ATI this month, it is no surprise that we have seen the release of the October 2005 Catalyst 5.10 driver slightly earlier then we expected. Hopefully ATI go back into the trend of releasing their drivers in the first half of the month as it gives all ATI owners something to get excited about.We did intend on comparing ATI's X1300, X1600 and X1800 with the new drivers compared to the drivers which shipped to reviewers, although the latest drivers this month don't support the new X1K series. We'll just assume ATI will start including support for the new series next month in the Catalyst 5.11 driver.We will be following our normal pattern, so let's not delay and have a look at what ATI have fixed this time around and then move into what you came here to see, the all important benchmarks.Release notes from ATIFrom ATI:Issues Resolved in Catalyst Software Suite 5.10The following section provides a summary of the issues that have been resolved in the latest version of Catalyst. These include:- Prince of Persia: Sands of Time: Attempting to launch the game under Windows with an ATI Radeon X800 XL installed no longer results in an error message being displayed - The German language control panel text no longer appears truncated when using 96 DPI - 3DMark03: Setting the display resolution to 1024x768 32bbp and having Anti-Aliasing set to 6x no longer results in Windows crashing when running 3Dmark03 Mother Nature test - Overlay Theater Mode no longer fails to be applied on the secondary display device when using extended desktop mode - Catalyst Control Center: Entering the Adjustments page and deselecting the option to Let the Application Decide no longer results in the Hue value not changing when moving the slider bar - Connecting two display devices to the ATI Radeon X300/X600 no longer results in the Overlay Theater Mode failing to be applied to the primary display device - Attempting to toggle between the CRT and TV using ALT+F5 shortcut no longer fails - The red/blue components are no longer intermittently swapped when rendering images with OpenGL based Java 2D pipeline - Silent Hunter 3: Enabling all video options within the game and setting the particle density to 100, along with setting Anti-Aliasing to 6X and Anisotropic Filtering to 16x, no longer results in display corruption on the left portion of the display - Pacific Fighters: Setting the display device to 1024x768 32bpp and enabling Anti-Aliasing to 6x no longer results in display corruption being noticed within the game - IBM DFP BN68-30012B-06: Connecting the display device to an ATI Radeon X300/X600 no longer results in display corruption being noticed after the installation of the ATI display driver - The ATI Radeon X850 Pro is now properly identified in the Display Properties - Dungeon Siege 2: The cursor image is now displayed properly when playing the game under Windows XP with an ATI Radeon X800 series installed - Stronghold 2: Attempting to launch the game under Windows XP Professional x64 edition no longer results in the game failing to load and the operating system rebooting itself - Attempting to enabling clone mode under Windows XP MCE while watching TV in a windowed mode no longer results in the operating system crashing - Using a PAL version of the Microsoft operating system (XP, or XP MCE) no longer results in the region being switched from PAL to NTSC when clicking the video list found in the tuner tab of the TV function of the ATI MMC - Max Payne 2: Erratic mouse pointer behavior is no longer noticed within the game's menu after a short time period of game play - The FM seek function found in the ATI MMC no longer operates the same as the tune function when using an ATI All-in-Wonder X800 (PAL) under the Windows XP MCE operating system - Graphedit: Watching and listening to audio/video using the composite input found on the ATI Radeon X300/X600 no longer results in the left and right audio being swapped- You can read the full release notes documentation from ATI here
Benchmarks - Test System Setup and 3DMark03
Test System SetupProcessor(s): AMD Athlon X2 3800+ Motherboard(s): ASUS A8N SLI Premium (Supplied by ASUS)Memory: 2 X 512MB Mushkin PC4000 DDR (Supplied by Mushkin)Hard Disk(s): WD Raptor 74GB 10,000RPM SATA (Supplied by Western Digital)Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP1Drivers: ATI Catalyst 5.9 and 5.10 and DX9cSince last month's Cat 5.9 driver article, nothing at all has changed on our test system as we are still utilizing our Athlon X2, ASUS motherboard and regular bits.We saw this month in our article that nVidia released some new BETA drivers on nZone that have really shown benefits to their line of cards to add more fire to their GeForce 7 series of GPU.We have our fingers crossed that ATI have worked extra hard this month to give us a release that is a bit more exciting then bug fixes to combat nVidia's driver efforts in Forceware 81.84 BETA.Let's get started and find out what Terry and the driver team over at ATI in Canada have come up with!3DMark03Version and / or Patch Used: Build 340Developer Homepage:http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage:http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark03/Buy It Here
By combining full DX8 and partial DX9 support with completely new tests and graphics over the previous version, 3DMark03 continues the legacy of being the industry standard 3D benchmark.Please Note: Due to recent events with the 3DMark03 series, we are adding results purely for those who are still in favor of 3DMark03. These results should not be taken too seriously and are only added for interest sakes.
We can see a performance increase in the X700PRO and X850XT cards but the lower end X550 doesn't get any performance gains with this release in 3DMark03.
3DMark05 is the latest version in the popular 3DMark "Gamers Benchmark" series. It includes a complete set of DX9 benchmarks which tests Shader Model 2.0 and higher.For more information on the 3DMark05 benchmark, we recommend you read our preview here.
3DMark05 shows a similar picture but just smaller as the performance gains aren't as noticeable here as they are in 3DMark03.
There is no denying that Far Cry is currently one of the most graphic intensive games on the market, utilizing PS2.0 technology (the latest versions support Shader Model 3.0 with DX9c) and offering an exceptional visual experience there is no denying that even some of the faster graphics cards struggle.
Far Cry (like with the new nVidia drivers) see a good performance increase but as we move down in the cards the performance increase is less noticeable. The biggest gains can be seen with the X850XT and the X700 PRO at the lower resolution.
By taking the suspense, challenge and visceral charge of the original, and adding startling new realism and responsiveness, Half-Life 2 opens the door to a world where the player's presence affects everything around him, from the physical environment to the behaviors even the emotions of both friends and enemies.We benchmark Half Life 2 with our own custom timedemos as to avoid possible driver optimizations using the "record demo_name" command and loading the timedemo with the "timedemo demo_name" command - For a full list of the commands, click here.
Half Life 2 shows similar a picture to Far Cry, the X850XT gains the most performance with the X700PRO getting a nice performance increase at the lower resolution and the little X550 gains next to nothing.
Doom 3 is the latest game to hit our test lab and is one of the most intensive games to dates. With our own custom time demo we are able to give a realistic rating on what kind of FPS you will be achieving.For more information on benchmarking Doom 3 we recommend you check out our extensive article regarding it here.
Doom 3 performance numbers are similar when compared to the 5.9 driver.
Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF
High Quality AA and AFIn our High Quality tests we bump the Antialiasing (AA) and Anisotropic Filtering (AF) up causing the card(s) to be put under more load.This usually helps us remove the CPU limitation. We use 4 x AA and 8 x AF as this is quite a common setup for most people who are venturing into the AA and AF area.
AA and AF tests show no performance gain across the board in 3DMark05.
Only the X850XT sees a performance increase when moving to AA and AF tests.
Final ThoughtsIt seems that ATI are going to become very aggressive on the driver front over the next few months thanks to the release of their new baby. It is nice to see a driver release which brings with it some more performance. We saw large performance increases with 5.9 over 5.8 and we are pleased to see even more boosts in performance this month.We understand that ATI do release drivers monthly and it is hard to get an increase every month but we have now seen two months in a row with an increase in speed especially for people who are utilizing cards from the X700PRO and above. Let's just see if ATI can keep it up, after all - it's free performance gains for you all.If you didn't update to the Catalyst 5.9 drivers and you have a higher end ATI Radeon graphics card, we would definitely recommend that you take the jump this time around, not only do we have another pile of bug fixes but some new performance to boot. Until next month... Happy Benchmarking! - ATI Catalyst drivers can be downloaded here from the ATI website and our ATI Catalyst driver installation guide is here which explains how to properly install and uninstall VGA drivers
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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.
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