AMD Catalyst 12.1 Preview Driver Benchmark

AMD Catalyst

AMD just released yet another preview driver. This one is called AMD Catalyst 12.1 Preview Driver and it’s obvious that it has newer components than all the other 11.12 Beta drivers. Previous tests showed that 11.12 Beta 18 Nov is the best driver to be released by AMD in at least 1 month so I will compare 12.1 Preview to these drivers and 11.11 WHQL.

A major change with 12.1 Preview is that we finally have Custom Application Profiles in a official AMD Catalyst release.

Note: Ubisoft is undergoing some maintenance and I can’t test with H.A.W.X. 2 at this time, as soon as Ubisoft finishes and the game is available I will add the results for 12.1 Preview.

Drivers Tested and Information

Catalyst Version 2D Driver 3D Driver OpenGL Driver Driver Packaging Version CCC Version CCC
11.11 WHQL 8.911-111025a-128243C-ATI 2011.1025.2231.38573 11.11
11.12 Beta 18 Nov 8.93-111118a-128864E-ATI 2011.1118.1246.22742 11.11
12.1 Preview Driver 8.93.10-111208a-130017E-ATI 2011.1208.1660.30301 12.1

AMD Catalyst Benchmark

Games Tested and Settings

  • Aliens vs Predator: Very High Settings @ 1680×1050 – 16xAF – 4xAA – DirectX 11
  • Assassin’s Creed Revelations: Highest Settings @ 1680×1050 – 8xMSAA – DirectX 9
  • Bad Company 2: Highest Settings @ 1680×1050 – 16xAF – 1xAA for DirectX 9 and 8xMSAA for DirectX 11
  • Batman: Arkham City: Very High Settings @ 1680×1050 – 8xMSAA – Hardware PhysX Off for DirectX 9 and DirectX 11 (normal tessellation)
  • Battlefield 3: Ultra Settings @ 1680×1050 – 16xAF – 4xMSAA – DirectX 11
  • Call of Juarez: High Details @ 1680×1050 – DirectX 10
  • Crysis 2: Ultra Settings @ 1680 x 1050 for both DirectX 9 and DirectX 11
  • Formula 1 2011: Settings Maxed Out @ 1680×1050 – 8xMSAA for both DirectX 9 and DirectX 11
  • H.A.W.X. 2: High Settings @ 1680×1050 – 8xAA for both DirectX 9 and DirectX 11
  • Metro 2033: Very High Settings @ 1680×1050 – 16xAF – No AA for DirectX 9 and 4xMSAA for DirectX 10 and DirectX 11
  • Modern Warfare 3: Maximum Settings @ 1680×1050 – 4xAA – DirectX 9
  • Red Orchestra 2: Ultra Settings @ 1680×1050 – MLAA – Hardware Physics OFF – DirectX 9
  • Saints Row 3: Ultra Settings @ 1680×1050 – 8xMSAA – 16xAF for both DirectX 9 and DirectX 11
  • TES V: Skyrim: Maximum Settings @ 1680×1050 – 16xAF – 8xFXAA – DirectX 9

Test System Specifications

Test Hardware | AMD Catalyst 12.1 Preview Driver Benchmark

Intel Core i5-2500K (Sandy Bridge)

3.3 GHz, 6 MB L3 Cache, power-saving settings disabled, Turbo Boost disabled.

Motherboard MSI P67-C43-B3, Intel P67 Chipset
Memory 2 x 2 GB DDR3 1600MHZ
Hard Drives


Samsung 750 GB Sata II (Game)

Graphics Card Sapphire HD6950 1 GB
Power Supply Corsair TX 650 W
System Software And Drivers
Operating System Windows 7 SP1 x64
DirectX DirectX 9 | DirectX 10 | DirectX 11
Graphics Driver

AMD Catalyst 11.11 WHQL

AMD Catalyst 11.12 Beta 18 Nov 2011

AMD Catalyst 12.1 Preview Driver


AMD Catalyst 12.1 Preview Driver Benchmark

AMD Catalyst 12.1 Preview Driver Comparison

The only games tested in which 12.1 Preview brought good performance improvements are Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 (+7%) and Saints Row 3 (DirectX 9 – +30%).

On the other hand Battlefield 3 became unplayable with this driver, in places where all other drivers delivered ~35-40 FPS 12.1 produced only about 25 FPS. Other drivers have a average minimum FPS of about 30 while 12.1 minimum FPS is 23.

With Batman Arkham City (DirectX 11) performance is similar to 11.12 Beta 22 Nov and 29 Nov.

Although AMD “promised” 10% performance improvement with Skyrim on 69xx cards (single GPU and CrossFire), the driver fails to deliver “the extra frames” and actually performs a little worse…that’s AMD for you.

If you disregard those extremes you get a pretty decent driver, still not as good as 11.12 Beta 18 Nov but a whole lot better than 11.11 WHQL.

  • Jakshi

    Wow thnx m8, that was really fast! Is this already the promised “major-performance-increase” driver, like the Mj√∂lnir one, or is there going to be a “faster” release?

    • Johnny 3D

      I don’t think there will be a better driver (WHQL signed) than 11.12 beta 18 nov for at least one month from now on…better leaked drivers? who knows, maybe.

  • Vasco

    Using 11.12 cause of you m8 thanks alot for the benches many free hugs for you :D

    Just 1 question i have a 5870 should i install any cap or leave it be ?

    • Johnny 3D

      It’s always good to have CAPs installed, even though they might not improve performance they fix some issues on certain games. CAPs are mostly for CF but help single GPUs to some extent.

  • Vasco

    What cap would you recomend ?

    • Johnny 3D

      With CAPs there are no better than the latest ones, at this time 11.11 CAP 3 are the latest.

      Might be just a coincidence, CatalystCreator:

      “Yes you can combine 12.1 Preview with 11.11 CAP3″

  • Luke

    11.12 whql is out. Will be any test with them?

  • Tye:P

    In regards to your criticism of AMD’s claimed 10-15% Skyrim performance improvement with this new preview driver, isn’t it only applicable when MSAA is enabled? Cheers :P

  • GGuts

    Hello Mister Benchmark3D. ;)

    Just wanted to say that it is very confusing if you change the colors for the respective driver in the summary. I was like: “Wait a sec .. somethings wrong here … how can 12.1 actually have more points in the summary etc.” After summing up myself I suddenly realized the change in color. Didn’t think of that possibility in the first place, because its just not logical to do that and very misleading.
    And you did it again in the 11.12 WHQL comparison.

    Dont get me wrong. I very much appreciate your work here. Well had to point it out anyway.

    Keep up the good work!

  • GGuts

    Hello again.

    I do not know which settings you use for the respective games, but just for empirical reasons I would suggest you up your RAM to 6 or 8 GBin your test system. While I use exactly the same GPU I have seen my RAM usage go above 4GB on Battlefield 3 with Windows 7 64bit ultra settings (without MSAA) on a 64-player-server playing the “Back to Karkand” maps, while using GPU-Z, CoreTemp, FRAPS, FireFox (naturally for BF 3) and Windows Aero, which everyone should disable anyway especially for the sake of VRAM usage. So it just might become a limiting factor when the page file is used instead, especially if someone needs to tab out of the game.

    • Johnny 3D

      Sorry for that, the software I use always reverses things. For example if I write 1 2 3 the software makes it 3 2 1, I always forget about it. But if you’re careful and read the legend you get it.

      About BF3, I noticed the RAM usage is a bit high but never managed to reach 4gb usage while playing BF3. The OS in which I test is pretty optimized, the OS in which I do my daily things (playing, work etc) there are about 1.2 GB of RAM used but with the test OS there are only about 700 MB of RAM used, so there still is more than 3GB to spare. Of course, more RAM couldn’t hurt, there are a lot of things I want to upgrade (Monitor, Ram, SSD) but I can’t afford much at this time…

  • Triggeh

    i had major problems with bf3 i saw it dip below 10 fps! wish i looked at this first. also im using a 5850

    • Johnny 3D

      A lot of people reported having less frames with 12.1. The game got unplayable for me so I had to revert to 11.12.

  • that1guy

    i have a single 5870 and 12.1 was way better than 11.12. 11.12 made bf3 have a really annoying micro stutter. 12.1 FTW

  • GGuts

    My impression is that on 64-player-servers the “Back to Karkand” maps, especially “Gulf of Oman” raise the system requirements a little for the GPU department. This map was the reason for me to play with high textures, high mesh quality and high shadows instead of ultra settings. There is nearly no drawback in terms of graphics quality, you can only notice that its kind of different when you switch back and forth several times in the options menu. But even if there was a noticeable difference quality-wise, after you have seen it all lots of times my values always would shift from Candy>Frames to Frames>Candy, especially in FPS-games.
    I didn’t measure the frames then, but I would say about 10 frames more in any situation by using my above mentioned settings.

    • Johnny 3D

      To be competitive I use Auto Settings, got about 70-90 FPS with rare dips in the 40s. Graphics look awesome, I didn’t really notice any performance difference between maps. Anyways B2K is awesome, I only play TDM and the maps really work for me. I just need some team players, I always come 1st-2nd but my team always loses:)

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