AMD released their latest beta driver on Friday, March 15th. Many were expecting the 13.2 beta series, part of the Never Settle Reloaded onslaught, to be WHQL certified and released this month but instead we received a new performance driver, Catalyst 13.3 beta 2. We're going to compare the 13.2b7 driver with the 13.3b2 driver, using three popular graphics benchmark applications: Futuremark 3DMark and Unigine's Valley and Heaven tests. While AMD is calling out gaming performance in their release notes, we wonder if static benchmark tests are being boosted in performance as well. The release notes for Catalyst 13.3 offer the following feature highlights:
Improve performance in Sim City 5 up to 16 percent
Improves performance in Far Cry 3 up to 5 percent
Improves latency performance issues seen in Tomb Raider and Hitman Absolution
Resolves slight corruption seen in Tomb Raider with TressFX enabled for CrossFire and single GPU configurations
The driver supports the following hardware, under Microsoft Windows Vista/7 and 8. AMD indicates a Linux version is following soon, but not Windows XP.
Futuremark's latest 3DMark is broken out into different tests; we're going to use Cloudgate, FireStrike and FireStrike Extreme to compare the two graphics drivers.
Below you can see the percentile differences of the 13.3b2 driver vs. the 13.2b7 driver:
Not a significant difference in performance unless you're submitting scores online and even then only Cloudgate has a worthwhile bump.
Below are the per test results broken out:
The score increase for Cloudgate comes from the Physics tests primarily. Similarly for FireStrike, there's Physics and Combined tests. FireStrike Extreme takes a hit on Physics which appears to be compensated for with slight advantages in the graphics tests, for a net balance.
Next up is Unigine and their Valley and Heaven tests.