Although we usually blitz-test all new Catalyst driver versions right after their official release, we made an exception for version 9.4 because the developers claimed no performance improvements in it compared with the previous Catalyst version 9.3. So, that driver version was of no particular interest to gamers, although it did fix certain image quality issues in some games. Namely, it eliminated the flickering in World of Warcraft on CrossFireX configurations and artifacts in Age of Conan in DirectX 10 mode.
The recently released Catalyst 9.5 promises much more improvements. According to Advanced Micro Devices, the new driver should ensure a significant performance improvement in a few situations when it gets limited by the system CPU. Among the pointed out gaming titles and tests are the following ones:
- Unigine Tropics DX9 – performance gains of up to 11% for single GPU and ATI CrossFireX configurations with anti-aliasing enabled;
- Company of Heroes – performance gains of up to 10% for both single GPU and ATI CrossFireX configurations;
- BattleForge – performance gains of up to 10% for ATI CrossFireX configurations.
Although the first one of these three is a purely synthetic benchmark and is of no significant interest to gamers, we decided to keep it among our test applications. Moreover we also added a few games that haven’t been mentioned in the release notes. The complete list of games and applications used in our today’s test session will follow below.
Besides the promised performance improvements, new Catalyst 9.5 also contains a number of fixes. In particular, it will please those of you who encode video, because version 9.5 is free from the existing ATI Video Converter issues and also supports 64-bit Windows Vista OS. You can now use any Radeon HD 4800, 4700 or 4600 models for work with video converter.
They have also fixed a number of bugs in the driver and catalyst Control Center. Here are a few of the fixed issues for Windows Vista OS:
- Catalyst Control Center no longer stops responding when Windows Hotkeys have been assigned;
- "Fan Speed Control" no longer changes when default Crossfire is enabled/disabled;
- Catalyst Control Center OverDrive pages no longer fails to display on some systems;
- Audio Control Panel no longer shows the HDTV entry even when unplugged.
You can check out the complete list of fixes in the new Catalyst 9.5 driver version on the official Advanced Micro Devices web-site, on the page devoted to ATI Radeon HD graphics cards drivers. This document also contains the list of potential problems that the user of Catalyst 9.5 driver can theoretically face, but they are mostly related to video playback and work with HDTV devices. As for us, we are primarily interested in the new driver performance in games. So, it is time to check out how gamers may benefit from upgrading their driver with the latest Catalyst 9.5.