Our express test session with the new ATI Catalyst 9.3 driver didn’t reveal any serious effect on performance in contemporary games, except for Lost Planet: Colonies. It is the only game where a significant performance improvement was promised right from the beginning in the driver release notes. But, I guess, the summarizing charts will speak for themselves:
We didn’t detect any noticeable performance improvement that would evidently exceed the measuring error acceptable for our testing methodology in any of the games except Lost Planet: Colonies. Nevertheless, we have to admit that once again ATI kept their promise: we did see performance growth where they promised we would. Just like during our previous test session last month the biggest performance improvement occurred for dual-processor ATI Radeon HD solutions, while classical single-GPU products benefited much less, especially in high and ultra-high resolutions. In other words, ATI driver developers are evidently focusing all their effort on making the best out of CrossFireX technology. In fact, it is not surprising at all, especially if we recall that the graphics division of Advanced Micro Devices bet big on this particular technology in the fight for title of the highest-performance 3D graphics solutions maker. Unfortunately, we couldn’t confirm or deny ATI’s claims about improved performance in Folding@Home project because TOC F@H Bench that we use wouldn’t work with the new Catalyst driver version. But we are going to get back to this topic later on, so stay tuned.
Summing up, we can state that there is nothing to discourage you from installing the new ATI Catalyst 9.3 driver at this time. It may not deliver too many benefits to the owners of regular gaming platforms based on Windows Vista OS, but it is definitely a more progressive version and the first ATI’s unified driver that supports both: the current Windows Vista and the upcoming Windows 7 operating systems. Besides, as usual, the new version fixes a number of serious issues, such as the ones connected with video playback, for instance.