AMD Catalyst 12.11 boosts speed, Radeon game bundle delights

By on October 22, 2012, 6:30 PM

If bad news from AMD recently left red team fans feeling a little blue, the chipmaker is offering two items which may help brighten their spirits: a new Catalyst driver which boasts significant improvements and an impressive holiday games bundle for anyone eyeballing a new graphics card.

Catalyst 12.11 beta (release notes)
Windows Vista/7/8 32-bit & 64-bit

AMD's Catalyst 12.11, or "The Never Settle Catalyst Driver 12.11" as they insist on calling it, aims to deliver a slight bump in performance to gamers across the board. However, 12.11 also marks even more significant boosts for several major titles: Borderlands 2, Civilization V, Dirt Showdown, Skyrim, Sleeping Dogs, Sniper Elite V2 and StarCraft II. AMD claims these games will experience a roughly 10 percent FPS increase (mileage will vary based on settings) while being run at resolutions between 1920x1080 and 2560x1600.

Battlefield 3 players may also want to check out Anandtech's look at the driver, which revealed 20-30 percent performance gains. It appears this update finally puts Radeon cards on par with their relative Nvidia counterparts when it comes to BF3. Meanwhile, Hardware Canucks provides a more sweeping look at the performance changes.

In case you've been wondering, the "Never Settle" Catalyst driver inherits its name from AMD's new Never Settle bundle.  The holiday bundle includes up to three AAA games instead of most past bundles with just one AAA title. Flexing its partnership muscle, Far Cry 3, Hitman: Absolution and Sleeping Dogs appear in AMD's Never Settle bundle deal. It would be remiss to leave out the 20 percent discount voucher for Medal of Honor Warfighter, as well. 

Anandtech's Ryan Smith believes AMD's upcoming holiday strategy is more aggressive than he's seen in years -- he's likely right about that. Although PC gamers will have to spend a pretty penny in order to take full advantage of the offer, even budget-minded Radeon HD 7700 buyers will be treated to at least a free copy of Far Cry 3.

If you've been on the fence, this may make AMD look a little more tempting this holiday season. Would the Never Settle bundle nudge you into buying a 7700, 7800 or even 7900 series Radeon HD?




User Comments: 21

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amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

AMD's in trouble, cutting parts of their workforce as of late.

I can see them making moves to finish the year strong.

While a GTX (Keplar) is still the best GPU on the market with more features, smoother drivers and PhysX being relevant (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWFkDrKvBRU&list=PLCEE75
E40CF35E83&index=6&feature=plpp_video) the Radeons are always a great option and Southern Islands is a darn good overclocker from what I hear.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

Just checked and there are new 12.10 CAP1's to go with the 12.11 Beta 3's. Oh man it's an early Christmas! And yes, CAP's usually have fixes/improvements for SINGLE GPU setups. Don't get it twisted. See you on the Battlefield.

Enjoy!

[link]

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

That's hella nice game bundles with those cards.

1 person liked this |
Staff
Steve Steve said:

Just a heads up about the performance claims guys. In our Battlefield 3 test we saw 18% more performance at 2560x1600 with these drivers, pretty amazing stuff.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

These bundles really are something. Farry3 JUST got released!

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Just a heads up about the performance claims guys. In our Battlefield 3 test we saw 18% more performance at 2560x1600 with these drivers, pretty amazing stuff.

Don't know if you're planning a review ( can't remember you doing a review based solely on a driver) , but if not, I'd suggest a quick read of TPU's and G3D's analysis for those interested. Quite remarkable for just a driver update ( the last time I saw a performance bump like this was due less to the driver than it was a change in image quality settings -LOD) and a very healthy dose of free performance.

Well done AMD.

Blue Falcon said:

Amstech, "While a GTX (Keplar) is still the best GPU on the market with more features, smoother drivers and PhysX being relevant"

When you say "smoother drivers" I think you mean micro-stutter for SLI. Single-GPUs are affected by minimum framerates and in GPU demanding games, HD7970 GE / 7970 have outperformed NV even before these drivers in the most GPU demanding titles other than BF3. With BF3 performance regained, HD7970 GE is now without a doubt the single fastest GPU on the market and the Matrix 7970 is the single-faster after-market GPU you can get.

15% faster than GTX680 at 1600P is a lot when GTX580 was about that much faster than HD6970 was at this rez:

[link]

You can't be the best GPU on the market when you are losing in price/performance, overclocking and absolute performance at every comparable price level, other than GTX690. This driver is great in a way since it means reviewers will need to retest the entire HD7000 series line. TechSpot continues to be the only website I read that shows NV cards still winning in Dirt 3 which hasn't' been the case since Catalyst 12.7 betas.

Great to see AMD offering more value for gamers, which could mean NV offering its own game bundles, focusing on its own driver improvements, or dropping prices. Win-win for consumers looking to upgrade this holiday season.

dividebyzero,

Computerbase, Hexus.net and Anandtech noted that they didn't see any image quality degradation with these drivers. There are some notable bugs such as lighting pass in Skyrim. Perhaps someone will do a thorough investigation comparing image quality between Cats 12.9 and 12.11s. Since the drivers didn't improve HD5000/6000 series performance, it appears AMD worked on improving its shader performance based on some comments made by Anandtech. These inefficiencies related specifically to HD7000 series GCN architecture.

Oh and it's Kepler as in Johannes Kepler, not Keplar.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kepler

I think NV needs to drop prices at this point or offer its own game bundles. With cards like Gigabyte HD7970 1100mhz edition going for $450, the entire GTX680 line is overpriced and slower. $349 for GTX670 and $419 for GTX680 would make a lot more sense.

amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

Plenty of sites showed the GTX 680 outperforming a 7970 at 1600p, including this one.

The GTX680 is the fastest single GPU in the world, with the 3DMark record in Quad SLi to prove it.

The 7970GHz edition is a re-release of the 7970, so thats kind of cheesy and it doesn't make AMD look good that they needed to 're-release their flagship' for it compete properly.

If you want the best GPU with smoother more feature rich drivers (FXAA, PhysX) with by far more stable drivers, get a GTX.

Want to save money? The 7000 series puts out great performance and has great bandwidth but at 1600p that dont mean jack, its about value/quality then.

Both companies have released drivers since but overall, for a side by side comparison these are still quite accurate.

[link]

[link]

The only reason AMD is winning the price/performance ratio now is because their flagship GPU got handled by a 670 at 1080p/1200p and since then AMD has significantly lowered their prices. The 670 is faster then a 7970 at 1080p/1200p to this day.

AMD needs to win the price/performance ratio to make up for its shortcomings, its been like this for several years. A recent poll taken by Steam showed the majority game with Nvidia.

So I can't be the only one who is out of my mind! haha.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

You're a fool if you think AMD chose to be the price/performance king. They want to be where nVIDIA and Intel have been year after year.

Blue Falcon said:

Now you are talking about value? If you want to talk about value, HD7950 OC clobbered GTX670 OC into the ground:

[link]

Of course GTX670 offered better value than a stock HD7950 but 7950 overclocks from 800mhz to 1100-1200mhz. You missed that part conveniently. You must also be joking talking about 3dMark11 scores no one cares about. Real gamers don't use 3dMark as an indication of anything at all. Just look at GTX680 vs. GTX580 in 3dMark11 and it shows a 50-60% lead for the GTX680. That's tells gamers right there that 3dMark11 is absolutely useless for extrapolating gaming performance. Figures since no modern game uses a 3dMark11 game engine.

Quad-SLI to prove it? Please, people play real world games.

GTX690 SLI ($2000 setup) is just 5 fps faster on average with 3x 1920x1200 monitors compared to HD7970 GE CFX:

[link]

Talk about getting owned in value.

When looking at HD7970 vs. GTX680, HD7970 GE is a real part that can be purchased. Quickly scouting Newegg, I see at least 2 1100mhz HD7970 cards that are faster than any GTX680 with the latest Cats 12.11s. Matrix HD7970 GE is a real card and it has achieved 1275-1300mhz overclocks on air. We know that GTX680 is slower per clock than 7970 series is which means at 1300mhz, 7970 would clobber a 1300mhz 680 out of this world at high rez.

Heck, AMD could have called it HD7980 for all gamers care. You ignoring it as if it doesn't exist is convenient, but deceiving. I've owned countless AMD and NV cards in the past and for single-GPUs, NV drivers not any more stable. FXAA? Who cares since AMD cards can use FXAA. BTW, MLAA looks better in Dishonored for cleaning edges than FXAA does. TXAA is a blur-fested joke. PhysX is great if more than 2 games a year used it.

You seem to have delusions about performance wrt to 7970 series. Go read 10-15 reviews all over the net and you'll see HD7970 GE was the fastest single GPU since June. Now that lead has been extended by even more:

[link]

I'll quote the conclusion:

"From a price / performance standpoint, there are actually very few reasons to recommend the GTX 680 at this point and at higher detail settings there?s just no competition."

GTX680 hasn't been winning at high resolution for a long-time.

Perhaps you may want to start reading professional reviews that test many games and stop living in NV marketing society:

[link]

Even a 925mhz 7970 is faster than a GTX680 at 1600P.

Let's not even talk about 8xMSAA performance or ENB mods in Skyrim, or GPU demanding games like Arma II, Alan Wake, Metro 2033 and Crysis games where GTX680 takes a dive by 20-30%! With BF3 performance regained, NV has no major games where it's leading besides European Escalation, Shogun 2, Planet Side 2, Max Payne 3, Lost Planet 2 and HAWX 2.

Overclock 7970 series and it's game over for GTX680 since it has no voltage control. If you want to discuss value, bitcoin mining trumps all NV features this round since it made AMD cards free!

1 person liked this | amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

All that biased mumble jumble just to say the Radeons overclock well and perform well for the price.

Radeons suck at 3DMark11, I am shocked your calling out its validity like a screaming child!

Unfortunately for you 3DMark11 results closely reflect that of real world gaming performance and always have.

PhysX looks great in Borderlands 2 as well, but I won't banter back in forth. Buy what you want and enjoy, even its a bang for the buck, needs to be overclocked Radeon! The GTX is king, Nvidia has superior drivers/quality/features/stability, it's been like this for several years and it's not changing anytime soon.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

dividebyzero,

Computerbase, Hexus.net and Anandtech noted that they didn't see any image quality degradation with these drivers.

I wasn't implying that there was. Just pointing out that drivers don't usually improve across the board to this extent. If the performance gains came from lowered image quality I wouldn't have praised AMD for their effort

Since the drivers didn't improve HD5000/6000 series performance, it appears AMD worked on improving its shader performance based on some comments made by Anandtech. These inefficiencies related specifically to HD7000 series GCN architecture

Fair assumption. Now hopefully they can get their ducks in a row with Enduro, since AMD are getting hammered in the high-end discrete notebook segment thanks to the spotty graphics switching support.

I think NV needs to drop prices at this point or offer its own game bundles. With cards like Gigabyte HD7970 1100mhz edition going for $450, the entire GTX680 line is overpriced and slower. $349 for GTX670 and $419 for GTX680 would make a lot more sense.

[link] . GTX 680 prices might fall, but with Nvidia selling what they make (either as 680's or filling pre-orders for Quadro K5000 and Tesla K10) there's little incentive for Nvidia. The GTX 670 cannibalizes 680 sales already.

BTW: How about you and Amstech cooling it on the text wall. I doubt anyone reading Amstech's comments relalizes it's nothing much short of wishful thinking and an OD of Nvidia love. Replying with a slanted take in the other direction* will only prolong the agony...for all of us.

(Quick example; PhysX PC games released in the last 12 months: Borderlands 2, The Secret World, Batman:Arkham City, while games that incorporate PhysX elements as middleware -I.e. CPU PhysX - are fairly numerous (there's also the consoles). I think you'll also find that ArmA 3, Metro:Last Light, Hawken, Lost Planet 3 and Star Trek are all slated for PhysX support next year)

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

Hmmm betas? Will wait for the final. Promising signs at least.

Staff
Steve Steve said:

Unfortunately for you 3DMark11 results closely reflect that of real world gaming performance and always have.

Ahh you got me there, that was a really good one

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Wow that's an amazing gain in BF3 and some other AAA titles, good work AMD!

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I know I may get hated for asking this but why did it take AMD this long to get BF3 playing properly?

The game has been out a year and they have only just fixed the low frame rates and stuttering in Crossfire?

I mean, come on, its been a year!

captainawesome captainawesome said:

Oh, what I wanted to say before I got distracted by all the to-and-fro between the red and the green supports is 'yes'. I do think that game bundle will slap me off of the wall and onto the red grass.

Guest said:

I'm still rocking a 5770 with the 12.8 drivers, is there any reason for me to install this? Looks like the improvements are only for the 7 series.

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Impressive performance boost for sure! Too bad I already uninstalled BF3 and moved on to better things lol .

I know I may get hated for asking this but why did it take AMD this long to get BF3 playing properly?

It played well before, now it's just better. Regarding crossfire, I can't personally comment but I've seen mixed results.

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