Saturday, July 26th 2008

Comparison of Catalyst 8.6+Hotfix versus Catalyst 8.7 Reveals Insignificant Gains

Expreview conducted a comprehensive comparison between the performance of ATI graphics hardware using the older Catalyst 8.6 + Hotfix driver versus that of the newest Catalyst 8.7 driver. The testbed comprised of:
  • Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 overclocked at 4.05 GHz
  • ASUS Maximus II Formula motherboard
  • G.Skill 4GB (2×2GB) DDR2 1100
  • ASUS Radeon HD 4870 TOP
Tests included a majority of games, real-world performance tests along with synthetic benchmarks such as 3DMark. The performance gains of the hardware using the 8.7 Catalyst driver never crossed 2.33%, in fact in some tests there was a performance loss of up to 1.08% against the older 8.6 Catalyst driver plus the hotfix. It shows that on a Radeon HD4870, the newer driver did not bring about significant improvements, at least not on par with what the release notes suggested. Expreview also suggests that if users aren't experiencing other issues which the Catalyst 8.7 fixed such as video output corruption in rare cases, the older driver is worthwhile. Test results are provided below.

Source: Expreview
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33 Comments on Comparison of Catalyst 8.6+Hotfix versus Catalyst 8.7 Reveals Insignificant Gains

#1
FR@NK
The only games where 8.7 is slower is where the average frame rates are over 100. So really 1 frame difference when the average is 110 really doesnt mean much.

Stick with 8.7
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#2
Scrizz
wow driver bashing lol
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#3
EastCoasthandle
I have to agree with Fr@nk here. Unless we were in an x1900 series, 7800 series era this really doesn't have that much of a meaning as in days past. This is the first time (that I know of) that we are seeing game play on newer titles (like Grid, Assassin Creed, etc) above 60 FPS at 1920x1200 at 4xAA, 16xAF. There are some exceptions to this however, the reasons are obvious of the problems/issues with those games.
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#4
Megasty
Its not too surprising. 8.7 is still a world over more stable than the 8.6 hotfix. I haven't had a driver crash since I've installed it.
I remember the first day I installed the 8.6 hotfix, it crashed 15 times during 2 hours of gaming :shadedshu
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#5
candle_86
by: EastCoasthandle
I have to agree with Fr@nk here. Unless we were in an x1900 series, 7800 series era this really doesn't have that much of a meaning as in days past. This is the first time (that I know of) that we are seeing game play on newer titles (like Grid, Assassin Creed, etc) above 60 FPS at 1920x1200 at 4xAA, 16xAF. There are some exceptions to this however, the reasons are obvious of the problems/issues with those games.
or it could be the amount of shaders in use and the heavy use of HDR in the titles if you think about it
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#6
EastCoasthandle
I also have to note that what AMD claimed improvements on maybe based on their testbed and may not be indicative across different, multiple PC platforms.
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#7
EastCoasthandle
by: candle_86
or it could be the amount of shaders in use and the heavy use of HDR in the titles if you think about it
Reasons vary, for example an unoptimized engine (Crysis and Dirt) come to mine.
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#8
mrw1986
8.7 is about 10 times better. I can see a HUGE difference between 8.7 and 8.6.
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#9
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
Not a good sign considering ATi needs to rely on driver improvements to continue to compete with nVidia. Little to no driver improvement kind of kills them since most people are buying the hardware on the assumption that the drivers will bring massive performance improvements. A 0.5% performance improvement isn't going to cut it.

I really hope ATi has better luck with the 8.8 drivers. They probably focused more on fixing issues with 8.7 than performance improvements, so I'm guessing 8.8 will be better.
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#10
lukesky
Is this the same as the beta version of the 8.7? We knew the beta was not much of a improvement. Lets hope we get a beta 8.8 soon.
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#11
Bull Dog
The thing is, the release notes are probably referencing the 8.6 drivers and not the 8.6 hotfix ones.
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#12
AsRock
TPU addict
by: Megasty
Its not too surprising. 8.7 is still a world over more stable than the 8.6 hotfix. I haven't had a driver crash since I've installed it.
I remember the first day I installed the 8.6 hotfix, it crashed 15 times during 2 hours of gaming :shadedshu
Ahh making some thing stable before making it run faster sounds like a good plan to me.


isn't the P45 chip set only x8 PCI-e lanes ?.. MAYBE it be better done on a x38x48 mobo ?..
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#13
magibeg
by: newtekie1
Not a good sign considering ATi needs to rely on driver improvements to continue to compete with nVidia.
I'm not sure where you get that idea from. ATI has been doing quite well with their hd4xxx series so far. Performance through driver improvements is more or less the icing on the cake ;)
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#14
oli_ramsay
Why didn't they test the driver's crossfire performance? That's probably where the real performance increases are.
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#15
PrudentPrincess
by: oli_ramsay
Why didn't they test the driver's crossfire performance? That's probably where the real performance increases are.
Because that's what you hope will happen? :laugh:
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#16
eidairaman1
thats why there is no reason to update to new drivers every month but to wait a few months between updates, also usually its good to update DX9C every so often before installing those newer drivers, also some drivers are performance updates while others are bug fixes. The primary purpose of the Hotfix Drivers is to put the AGP GART interface back in, where the nonhotfix doesnt have that functionality.
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#17
EastCoasthandle
I just realize something, these results are incomplete. There are no results using Cat 8.6. We do not know what influence (if any) the hotfix drivers have on Cat 8.6 when compared to Cat 8.7.
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#18
PrudentPrincess
by: EastCoasthandle
I just realize something, these results are incomplete. There are no results using Cat 8.6. We do not know what influence (if any) the hotfix drivers have on Cat 8.6 when compared to Cat 8.7.
Yeah I guess, but you could make an argument to compare the Cat 8.7 results to those of an even lower version, this test was purely to show the difference of 8.6 Hotfix and 8.7 Cat drivers. So I suppose they're incomplete, but they're showing exactly what they intended to.
"Comparison of Catalyst 8.6+Hotfix versus Catalyst 8.7"
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#19
tkpenalty
Sigh... what these guys only care about is the numbers. A lot of people say that these drivers removed the stuttering issues that the 8.6s had. You can get like 100FPS and have the framerate stutter, the game then feels like as if its 20 FPS.
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#20
EastCoasthandle
by: PrudentPrincess
Yeah I guess, but you could make an argument to compare the Cat 8.7 results to those of an even lower version, this test was purely to show the difference of 8.6 Hotfix and 8.7 Cat drivers. So I suppose they're incomplete, but they're showing exactly what they intended to.
"Comparison of Catalyst 8.6+Hotfix versus Catalyst 8.7"
This is incorrect lower Cat version number(s) do not apply to the release of the 4800 series. The results are incomplete because the result don't show the difference between the hotfix & Cat 8.6. Therefore, a comparison between the 2 vs Cat 8.7 would have been a more complete and through review of results between Cat 8.6 (which includes the hotfix) and Cat 8.7.

Read here:
This Hotfix improves overall performance and stability. The Hotfix includes the Display Driver and Catalyst Control Center.
Because this is what the hotfix offers, it would make perfect sense to know what kind of performance is found vs the standard Cat 8.6 driver. Before we start making comparisons of Cat 8.7 vs the hotfix.
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#21
Megasty
I really don't care whether 8.7 is faster or slower than the 8.6 hotfix. The hotfix was a buggy mess for me & it made me go back to the more stable 8.6. Unstable drivers & betas are worthless to me. They may be more stable to some but when they kill ppl rigs then there's something wrong. I will never sacrifice stability for performance, this goes for OCing as well. The WHQL drivers has always been more stable than the hotfixes, while the hotfixes has been faster by an insignificant amount but about as stable as a cracked egg shell.
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#22
WarEagleAU
Bird of Prey
time to download me some new drivers then.
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#23
robspierre6
Great driver

What the hell you people are talking about.the driver does improve the performance.
Now in crysis at 1680x1050 res. with everything on Very high i get 28.4 fps with my
4870(750/900 ) and the driver is absolutely stable.
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#24
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
by: magibeg
I'm not sure where you get that idea from. ATI has been doing quite well with their hd4xxx series so far. Performance through driver improvements is more or less the icing on the cake ;)
I got it from the fact that nVidia is still churning out newer hardware and ATi isn't. ATi has the HD4870x2, which isn't actually an improvement on any hardware out there, and that is it. Nvidia has 55nm GT200b and G92b with ramped up clocks on the way(G92b just arriving this week).

So I get that idea from the fact that nVidia is still pushing out performance through hardware improvements, and ATi's only option is to fall back on performance through driver improvements.
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#25
Scrizz
At least with driver improvements I dont have to buy newer hardware
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