I can’t say that our today’s driver express-test refuted ATI’s official promises of performance improvements with the new Catalyst 9.2; however, they did in fact come true only partially. As usual, we summed up all the results in two tables, each showing the performance gain or drop in percents:
First of all, they didn’t deliver on the promise of 20% performance gain in Crysis Warhead. The owners of dual-GPU graphics cards have got 2-3% improvement at best, while single-chip Radeon HD even slowed down quite noticeably. The second game mentioned in the release notes for the new Catalyst 9.2 driver, World in Conflict, the actual gain turned out higher than had been promised and reached up to 12% depending o the screen resolution. Unfortunately, it was again valid only for dual-processor Radeon HD models: 4870 X2 and 4850 X2.
Other benchmarks results confirmed our suppositions about ATI driver developers focusing their efforts on optimizing the dual-GPU solutions performance in the first place and adding software CrossFireX support for the new games. The results obtained in F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin are excellent proof of that. ATI’s desire to provide fully-functional CrossFireX support is definitely a great thing; however, we find this approach to driver development a little one-sided. Moreover, contemporary multi-GPU concept once again showed that extreme dependence on the software support is in fact its major weakness.
The owners of single-GPU Radeon HD 4800 will not gain much in games by switching to Catalyst 9.2 from version 9.1. In some cases, they will even end up with lower performance numbers. Nevertheless, we would still recommend considering this release for one simple reason: it is free from a lot of issues and bugs that are not directly connected with the gaming performance, but have a steady negative effect on the driver stability, compatibility or image quality in games or during video playback.