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Testbed and Methods

We are going to check out the performance of the new ATI Catalyst driver version 9.6 using the following testbed:

  • Intel Core i7-965 Extreme Edition processor (3.2GHz, 6.4 GT/s QPI);  
  • Gigabyte GA-EX58-Extreme mainboard (Intel X58 Express chipset);
  • Corsair XMS3-12800C9 (3x2GB, 1333MHz, 9-9-9-24, 2T);
  • Maxtor MaXLine III 7B250S0 HDD (250GB, Serial ATA-150, 16MB buffer);
  • Enermax Galaxy DXX EGX1000EWL 1000W power supply;
  • Dell 3007WFP monitor (30", 2560x1600@60Hz max display resolution);
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 64-bit;
  • ATI Catalyst 9.5;
  • ATI Catalyst 9.6.

Both versions of ATI Catalyst driver were configured as follows:

  • Smoothvision HD: Anti-Aliasing: Use application settings/Box Filter
  • Catalyst A.I.: Standard
  • Mipmap Detail Level: High Quality
  • Wait for vertical refresh: Always Off
  • Enable Adaptive Anti-Aliasing: On/Quality
  • Other settings: default

This time we used the following games for our performance tests:

  • BattleForge
  • Company of Heroes
  • Crysis Warhead
  • Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
  • Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X.
  • World in Conflict: Soviet Assault
  • Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

We selected the highest possible level of detail in each game using standard tools provided by the game itself from the gaming menu. We didn’t use any non-standard settings, except a few situations, described separately later in the article.

For our tests we chose two most significant representatives of ATI Radeon HD 4800 family:

  • ATI Radeon HD 4890 (RV790, 850/850/3900MHz, 800sp, 40tmu, 16rbe, 256-bit, 1024MB GDDR5)
  • ATI Radeon HD 4770 (RV740, 750/750/3200MHz, 640sp, 32tmu, 16rbe, 128-bit, 512MB GDDR5)

We also tested Radeon HD 4890 in CrossFireX configuration. This way we could estimate the improvements brought by the new Catalyst 9.5 driver not only in the common single-GPU mode but also in multi-GPU mode.

We ran our tests in the following resolutions: 1280x1024, 1680x1050, 1920x1200 and 2560x1600. We didn’t test Radeon HD 4770 in the latter one. We added MSAA 4x antialiasing to the standard anisotropic filtering 16x in all tests. We enabled antialiasing from the game’s menu. If this was not possible, we forced it using the appropriate ATI Catalyst driver settings.

Performance was measured with the games’ own tools using the original demos. We measured not only the average speed, but also the minimum speed of the cards if possible. If there were no appropriate tools available in the game itself, we used Fraps utility version 2.9.8 to record our performance measurements in this game. In the latter case we ran the test three times and took the average of the three readings for the performance charts.

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