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ATI Catalyst Driver Release 8.12 Hotfix HD4850X2 Test
Author: Jason Kohrs
Manufacturer: ATI
Source: ATI
Purchase: Newegg.com
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ATI Catalyst Driver Release 8.12 Hotfix HD4850X2 Test
January 27, 2008

ATI has recently released a hotfix to their Catalyst Driver version 8.12 which in part addresses a very small subset of all of their graphics cards. The hotfix is explained and available for review at this link, and the following two bullet points are provided to describe its purpose:

Improves DirectX10 performance in various applications in multi-core CPU systems
Resolves BSOD issues using dual ATI Radeon HD 4850 in CrossFireX configurations

The BSOD (blue screen of death) issue applies to configurations with multiple single GPU HD4850 cards used in CrossFireX, as well as to dual GPU HD4850X2 cards. I was initially made aware of this hotfix thanks to the representative at Sapphire, and decided to give it a shot on their Radeon HD4850X2. The card provided for review had been running the Catalyst driver version 8.12 for about 10 days, and in that time I had not experienced any BSODs, the fix specific to the HD 4850 CrossFireX cards. But improved performance is always of interest, especially with Sapphire mentioning numbers like boosts of 25% in Crysis and 10% in World In Conflict.


A system with the following components was used to compare the initial release of Catalyst driver 8.12 versus this hotfix:

Sapphire Radeon HD4850X2 2048MB graphics card
ASUS P5E64 WS Evolution X48 ATX motherboard
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 dual core processor (at 3.2GHz)
G.Skill 4GB DDR3-1600 Pi Series dual channel memory kit (at 1600MHz and 7-7-7-18)
OCZ Technology Vendetta CPU cooler
Maxtor MaxLine III 250GB SATA 3Gbps hard drive
TSST Super WriteMaster optical drive
Nesteq EECS 700 Watt ultra quiet power supply
Windows Vista Home Premium 64-Bit

Two tests were executed in order to take a quick snapshot of whether any performance improvement could be realized. 3DMark Vantage Professional (1.0.1) and the World in Conflict integrated benchmark were run a total of four times each. Each test was run twice with Catalyst driver 8.12, and twice with the hotfix applied. Scores were averaged and presented in the charts below. In the first chart we see the data from 3DMark Vantage, where such a small improvement was realized that the results seem trivial. The total score improved by 23 Marks, which is roughly 0.24%. Not much to get excited about.

chart

The second chart takes a look at the minimum, maximum, and average frame rate values from World in Conflict's built-in benchmark executed with a resolution of 1680x1050 and settings on "High". The average frame rate value increased by 10 fps (or 19.61%), while the minimum value increased by 6 fps (or 31.58%). Sapphire mentioned a 10% improvement was possible, and at a higher resolution and/or with "Very High" settings that may be exactly what to expect.

chart

The hotfix for Catalyst driver 8.12 is definitely worth downloading by anyone with a Radeon HD4850 CrossFireX setup that is experiencing BSODs. And for those with a multi-core CPU system running any compatible Radeon card, the promise of improved performance is always worth checking out.

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