ATI Catalyst 6.6 Performance Analysis

ATI has just released their latest set of Catalyst drivers for Radeon graphics card and we have our benchmarks ready!

Published Sun, Jun 25 2006 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:04 PM CST
Manufacturer: none


The end of the month was coming to an end and a lot of people thought that for the first time in a long time we would see the ATI driver team skip a month of Catalyst drivers. It's late in the month but not the end of it just quite yet and ATI managed to come through with the goods.

ATI has just made the Catalyst 6.6 driver available for download on their website. So let's get into it quickly and have a look what ATI are offering us this time around and then get straight into the benchmarking.

Release Notes from ATI

From ATI:

Performance Improvements

As with most Catalyst releases, performance has increased in various situations.

Far Cry performance improves 4-5%. Larger gains of up to 18.3% can be seen when using anisotropic filtering.
Fear performance improves as much as 8.5% on X1800 and X1900 Single card systems and as much as 14% on X1800 and X1900 Crossfire systems.
Splinter Cell (original) performance improves as much a 7% on X1300 and X1600 Crossfire systems.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup and 3DMark05

Test System Setup

Processor(s): AMD Athlon X2 3800+ @ 2.6GHz (260MHz FSB with RAM 1:1)
Motherboard(s): DFI SLI DR Expert (Supplied by Bronet)
Memory: 2 X 1GB G.Skill HV DDR500 (Supplied by Bronet)
Hard Disk(s): Hitachi 80GB 7,200 RPM SATA 2
Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP2
Drivers: ATI Catalyst 6.5 and 6.6 and DX9c

The test system has seen somewhat of an overhaul since our last Catalyst article. Thanks to the addition of the DFI SLI DR Expert motherboard, we are running our AMD X2 3800+ at a very stable 2.6GHz. This will go along way to help us remove the CPU as a possible bottleneck in our benchmarks.

The increased CPU clock speed is also made capable with the new G.Skill memory we are using which is running at 520MHz DDR (1:1 with the CPU FSB). We have moved across to a SATA 2 Hitachi drive as well in the mean time but this won't influence 3D benchmark figures much at all.

This month we do only have with us our X1K line up but we promise that a previous generation X800 series card will makes its way back into our line up by the time the Catalyst 6.7 drivers come around next time.

Let's get things under way and see what the guys from ATI in Canada have managed to do for us this month.


Version and / or Patch Used: Build 120
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
Buy It Here

3DMark05 is now 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 above.

For more information on the 3DMark05 benchmark, we recommend you read our preview here.

No performance increase promised and no performance increase seen, across the board.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06


Version and / or Patch Used: Build 102
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
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 paints a similar picture to previous version with no performance changes seen from the Radeon X1300 through to the Radeon X1900.

Benchmarks - Half Life 2 (Lost Coast)

Half Life 2 (Lost Coast)

Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
Buy It Here

By taking the suspense, challenge and visceral charge of the original, and adding startling new realism, responsiveness and new HDR technology, Half-Life 2 Lost Coast 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 Lost Coast 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.

Lost Coast with HDR turned off sees a small increase with the X1300, a slight drop with the X1600 and a small increase again with the X1900.

HDR tests on the other hand don't see any performance changes from low to high end.

Benchmarks - Doom 3

Doom 3

Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
Buy It Here

Doom 3 is still one of the most popular games at the moment and is quite intensive in the 3D department, even though it is starting to age. 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 sees a slight bump at the higher resolutions on the X1900XT but everything else stays at the same level as the previous Catalyst driver.

Benchmarks - Quake 4

Quake 4

Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
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.

While Doom 3 saw a small increase, Quake 4 performance sits the same across the board.

Benchmarks - F.E.A.R.


Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
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. minimum hasn't changed much but when we move to the averages we can see a slight increase for the Radeon X1900XT.

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 which usually helps us remove the CPU limitation.

We're using 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 a noticeable increase for the X1900XT.

We again see that the X1900XT gets an increase in performance in our AA and AF tests yet the other cards don't see any change.

In the last of our tests we see that again the X1900XT sees an increase in our AA and AF test.

Final Thoughts

We can clearly see the performance increase in our AA and AF tests with the ATI Radeon X1900XT graphics card. We also see a little performance increase in Half Life 2 Lost Coast non HDR tests with both the X1900XT and X1300. ATI did promise us some performance increases, which can be seen in our F.E.A.R. benchmark on the X1900XT.

We weren't too sure if a new Catalyst driver version was coming this month but they ended up delivering and ATI has produced quite as useful driver for the lovers of AA and AF - although mostly for Radeon X1900XT(X) owners who love AA and AF.

Until next month which isn't all that far away, 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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