So, the ATI Catalyst 10.3 Drivers are finally here, and the update is, that they are from Windows XP and upwards, not just Vista/7 as thought earlier. Download them from here, and enjoy increased performance on all your ATI graphics cards!
As shown in a previous article on the performance difference between a ATI Radeon HD 5870 run on Catalyst 10.2 drivers and on Catalyst 10.3a preview drivers, the entire ATI Radeon series deserves new benchmarking, in time for tomorrow's launch of Nvidia's Fermi chips at PAX East in Los Angeles, namely the GeForce GTX 480 and GTX 470.
Well, tweaktown.com has gone ahead and benchmarked AMD ATI's top-end graphics cards, the ATI Radeon HD 5870 and HD 5970, comparing their performance with their launch drivers and the new full-release Catalyst 10.3 drivers, just in time for tomorrow's Fermi launch.
CPU: Intel Core i7 980X (3.8GHz)
Motherboard: ASRock X58 Extreme3
Memory: 3x2GB Kingston Hyper X 16000 DDR3 (2000MHz)
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
The two graphics cards were run through two simulated benchmarking tests: 3DMark Vantage, Unigine Heaven; as well as several gaming benchmarks: Resident Evil 5, Far Cry 2, Darkest of Days, BattleForge, Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X, and High Quality Anti-Aliasing Anisotropic Filtering tests on Resident Evil 5 and Far Cry 2.
Across the board, the Catalyst 10.3 drivers gave the graphics cards a substantial performance boost, where once again H.A.W.X was an exceptional performer, and in this round, Darkest of Days, was the exceptional under-performer. This drop in performance seen in Darkest of Days is believed to be because the game uses the OpenGL platform instead of the DirectX, and PhysX modelling, both things that ATI wasn't really concentrating on when bringing the new drivers into the market. On the whole, the average performance boost was very appreciable, especially since the two sets of drivers being tested were the beta drivers at launch, and the latest drivers released in March. Catch all the results in the photo-gallery below!