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ATI Catalyst 6.4 Performance Analysis

We take our regular look at the latest Catalyst drivers from ATI and we examine if it's worth updating to version 6.4!

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Wed, Apr 12 2006 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:04 PM CST
Manufacturer: none

Introduction and Release Notes





Introduction

As the month of public holiday's rolls around for Australia, we have a new set of ATI Catalyst drivers to test just before we take a nice long weekend off. As expected the 6.4 are their name and performance and bug fixes are what they bring to the table.

Let's have a quick look at the release notes before we get stuck into benchmarking.



Release Notes from ATI

From ATI:


Performance Improvements


3DMark06 CPU scores improve as much as 4.9% across all product lines

3DMark06 HDR 2 Deep Freeze (SM3.0) test improves as much as 2%

Call of Duty 2 improves approximately 1.4-2% on Radeon X1900 and Radeon X1800 Crossfire configurations. Gains are slightly less (1.3%) for non-Crossfire Radeon X1900 and Radeon X1800 products

FarCry improves 2-3% on ATI Radeon X1900 non-Crossfire configurations. Greatest improvements result from tests with no AA and AF

Half Life 2 improves as much as 3.8% on Radeon X1900 non-Crossfire configurations. Greatest improvements result from tests with no AA and AF

Unreal Tournament 2004 gains 3-5% on all Radeon X1x00 non-Crossfire configurations


ATI are claiming some small performance improvements in several games, so let's continue on and see how the new Catalyst drivers perform against the previous version.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup and 3DMark03


Test System Setup

Processor(s): AMD Athlon X2 3800+
Motherboard(s): ASUS A8N32-SLI Premium (Supplied by ASUS)
Memory: 2 X 1GB Crucial PC4000 DDR (Supplied by Crucial)
Hard Disk(s): WD Raptor 74GB 10,000RPM SATA (Supplied by Western Digital)
Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2
Drivers: ATI Catalyst 6.3 / 6.4 and DX9c


With the new addition to the bunch of test graphics cards being the Radeon X800XL from last month, testing is taking a little longer these days and we didn't get a chance to swap our X1800 over to an X1900.

This is our top priority though for the next set of Catalyst drivers. While most of the performance increases revolve around the X1900, we will see if the high-end X1800 gets any boost in speeds along with our other cards.

Let's get started and see what the folks at ATI have served up for us this month!



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.




3DMark03 is getting old now and for that reason increases have been few and far apart. The latest Catalyst drivers show no difference when compared to the previous set.

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 second 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 finds that all the cards are scoring almost exactly the same with some results only showing a difference of one point between the old and new set of drivers.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06


3DMark06

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 102
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.




ATI said that there was a performance increase in 3DMark06 with the X1900; we can see the X1800 gets a small bump but the rest of the line up doesn't see anything at all.

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 performance across the board hasn't changed this month.

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.




The X1800 has seen a bump in HL2 performance in both resolutions while again like 3DMark05 all the other cards find themselves scoring the same.

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.




Apart from the low resolution X1800 test, Doom 3 performance seemed to have dipped this month. We will see if it's an OpenGL performance hit or just Doom 3 with our next benchmark.

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 has taken a bit of a dive as well which leads us to believe that the OpenGL side of things has taken a hit more then the game. Hopefully we will see this adjusted in the next set of drivers.

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.






F.E.A.R. performance is constantly the same across the board. While ATI do have the upper hand in F.E.A.R. there isn't any new performance for the line up of cards we have here.

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.





Like our non AA and AF tests 3DMark05 has not moved at all.



Final Thoughts




If you make your way to have a look at the full release notes from ATI, you see performance fixes and a massive list of bug fixes for some very popular games.

If you're having trouble with your current set of drivers, it's worth the upgrade but if you're not having any troubles and you still find yourself playing OpenGL games you are better off sticking with your current Catalyst 6.3 drivers.

Big performance was seen last year in the two December releases so we have no doubt that ATI are more concentrated on fixing gaming problems at the moment. We don't doubt though that we will see a performance increase in the driver set in the coming months.

Until next month, have a great Easter and 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.

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