The results of our ATI Catalyst 9.6 express-test turned out quite ambiguous, because we didn’t see the promised performance improvement everywhere where we expected to, and in some cases, performance even dropped. Just take a look at the summary diagrams and you will be able to tell if it makes sense to upgrade to the new Catalyst 9.6 version or wait until version 9.7 comes out in July:
The biggest performance gain occurs in World in Conflict: Soviet Assault in 1280x1024 resolution, where it makes around 14% for Radeon HD 4890 CrossFireX and around 7% for a single Radeon HD 4890. However, this is where we also see a significant performance drop by Radeon HD 4770 that sometimes drops by as much as almost 10%. So, the owners of these inexpensive graphics accelerators who play World in Conflict games should better refrain from upgrading to the new Catalyst 9.6 driver. Also, the owners of multi-GPU configurations on ATI Radeon chips may experience some performance worsening in Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. flight simulator.
In all other cases Catalyst 9.6 would be the way to go: even if it doesn’t improve the performance for you, it will definitely fix a few issues described in the release notes. As a rule, it makes sense to install the latest driver version, except for a few cases we specifically mentioned above. These cases are pretty rare, but we can’t disregard them completely, which is why of the reasons for us to continue posting the results of our ATI and Nvidia new driver express tests and provide the information updates for our readers. Please note that the results obtained in our lab shouldn’t be taken as the one and only universal truth, because the performance improvement from the use of Catalyst 9.6 driver may be different on a differently configured system.
As for the use of GPU computational capacity for video encoding tasks, AMD has a long way to go in improving performance and image quality aspects before Stream technology becomes truly popular among home video enthusiasts.