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ATI Catalyst 6.1 Performance Analysis

The first Catalyst for 2006 is here and in our usual fashion we've checked out the performance to see what has changed!
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Wed, Jan 18 2006 11:00 PM CST   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Manufacturer: none

Introduction






As we enter 2006 we see the first Catalyst driver set for the New Year labeled as the 6.1s. These come out just in time for the release of the latest FutureMark benchmark application labeled 3DMark06 funnily enough.

With the New Year we have also changed our line up of graphics cards. We have moved to the latest generation of cards, the X550 has moved to the Sapphire X1300, the X700PRO has moved to the HIS X1600XT and the X800XT has been moved to the X1800XT.

Let's get things started and check out what ATI has in store for Radeon users for the first set of their drivers of 2006.


Release Notes from ATI

From ATI:

The following section provides a summary of the issues that have been resolved in the latest version of Catalyst. These include:

BattleField 2 Special Forces: A blooming or ghosting effect is no longer noticed when playing the game in night vision mode. Further details on this resolved issue can be found in topic number 737-21263

Beyond Good and Evil: Flickering artifacts are no longer noticed on the game characters after approximately 15 minutes of game play. Further details on this resolved issue can be found in topic number 737-20795

Dark Age of Camelot: The game no longer exits to the desktop immediately after launching, or after playing for up to 15 minutes. Further details on this resolved issue can be found in topic number 737-20794

Everquest II, The Fall, and World of Warcraft: A VPU Recover event or the operating system failing to respond no longer occur when playing the game. Further details on these resolved issues can be found in topic number 737-21437

Half-Life2: Enabling Catalyst AI no longer results in the outer edges of the water appear dark or black in color. Further details on this resolved issue can be found in topic number 737-21448

World of Warcraft: Rotating or zooming within the Blackwing Lair or Seering George level of the game no longer results in a VPR Recover occurring after approximately a few minutes of game play. Further details on this resolved issue can be found in topic number 737-21265

Catalyst Control Center: The Display Properties aspect is now translated correctly for Traditional Chinese. Further details on this resolved issue can be found in topic number 737-21440

Attempting to hot-plug a DFP display device using the HDMI-DVI connector no longer results in the DFP display device failing to display an image. Further details on this resolved issue can be found in topic number 737-21442

Viewing TV for several hours under Windows XP Media Center Edition on a system containing either an ATI Radeon X1300 or an ATI Radeon X1800 no longer results in an extraordinary long delay in the shut down and no longer results in Windows XP MCE TV failing to restart. Further details on this resolved issue can be found in topic number

The radio seek function found in the Windows XP Media Center Edition operating system is now functioning properly when using an ATI Radeon X800. Further details on this resolved issue can be found in topic number 737-21449

As we can see, even if there are no performance increases in the latest drivers from ATI, the fixes alone make the upgrade worthwhile. Let's check out the performance now.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup and 3DMark03


Test System Setup

Processor(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 SP1
Drivers: ATI Catalyst 5.13 and 6.1 and DX9c


As we have mentioned, we have updated our cards to the latest generation of ATI graphics cards - at least for the time being. Apart from the change of cards we have also added the 3DMark06 which was only released today.

Let's not drag on any longer and find out what the latest drivers do for us in the performance sector.


3DMark03

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 360
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product 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.




We can see that no performance gains with the new drivers across the whole board.

Benchmarks - 3DMark05


3DMark05

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 120
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark05/
Buy It Here




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.




We also see in 3DMark05 that there are no performance gains in any of the boards.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06


3DMark06

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 1.02
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/
Buy It Here




3DMark06 is the very latest version of the "Gamers Benchmark" from FutureMark. The newest version of 3DMark expands on the tests in 3DMark05 by adding graphical effects using Shader Model 3.0 and HDR (High Dynamic Range lighting) which will push even the best DX9 graphics cards to the extremes.

3DMark06 also focuses on not just the GPU but the CPU using the AGEIA PhysX software physics library to effectively test single and Dual Core processors.




3DMark06 is certified for only the 5.13s at the moment so we thought there might be a little bump in performance with the 6.1s since ATI have probably been playing with it for a while now but we can see there is no difference.

Benchmarks - Far Cry


Far Cry

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.3
Timedemo or Level Used: PC Games Hardware Demo
Developer Homepage: http://www.crytek.com
Product Homepage: http://www.farcrygame.com
Buy It Here




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 doesn't see any performance gains either across the board.

Benchmarks - Half Life 2


Half Life 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com
Product Homepage: http://www.half-life2.com
Buy It Here




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.




Like our current trend there are no performance gains with Half Life 2.

Benchmarks - Doom 3


Doom 3

Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.idsoftware.com
Product Homepage: http://www.doom3.com
Buy It Here




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 so far is the only benchmark that has shown an improvement on the latest drivers with the X1800XT getting a slight increase at the lower resolution.

Benchmarks - Quake 4


Quake 4

Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.idsoftware.com
Product Homepage: http://www.quake4game.com
Buy It Here




Quake 4 is one of the latest new games to be added to our benchmark suite. It is based off the popular Doom 3 engine and as a result uses many of the features seen in Doom. However, Quake 4 graphics are more intensive than Doom 3 and should put more strain on different parts of the system.




Quake 4 being based of the same engine as Doom 3 we can see carries a performance gain at the lower resolution of over 10% on the X1800XT. The higher resolution sees no difference on any of the cards.

Benchmarks - F.E.A.R.


F.E.A.R.

Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.vugames.com
Product Homepage: http://www.whatisfear.com/us/
Buy It Here




F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault Recon) is an intense combat experience with rich atmosphere and a deeply intense paranormal storyline presented entirely in first person. Be the hero in your own spine-tingling epic of action, tension, and terror...and discover the true meaning of F.E.A.R.






We haven't seen F.E.A.R. performance increase on any of the Catalyst driver since its release.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF


High Quality AA and AF

In 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.





3DMark05 sees no performance increase on any of the cards.




Like our non AA and AF tests Far Cry has seen no performance gains.




Quake 4 with AA and AF on seems to take a slight hit in performance with the latest driver release even though our non AA and AF tests showed increases.

Final Thoughts




We did think that ATI would take a bit of a break over Christmas and it was extremely well deserved for all the hard work done by the software team last year. This time around we haven't got much more then a bug fix driver.

With that said though we can see that OpenGL performance for the X1800XT at the lower resolution has slightly been bumped up with it showing more then 10%.

Hopefully ATI get back into the swing of more performance next month as we see the release of the X1900XT and XTX.

Until next month, Happy Benchmarking!

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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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