AMD Catalyst 12.1 WHQL and 12.2 Preview Benchmark

AMD Catalyst

Yesterday was a busy day for AMD’s Software/Driver Team, they released this month’s WHQL driver, 12.1 that is. 12.1 WHQL is actually the 8.93 driver released on the 5th of December, it took almost two months from the moment of the leak and the official release. AMD also released 12.2 Preview and recommended it for “gamers”.

Instead of making two articles for each driver, I will mash both drivers together and compare them both to 11.12 WHQL and 8.95 17 Jan (best performing driver to date).

Tested Drivers and Information

Prior to installing a driver, a sweep was done in safe-mode using Phyxion Driver Sweeper.

Catalyst Version 2D Driver 3D Driver OpenGL Driver Driver Packaging Version CCC Version CCC
11.12 WHQL 8.92-111109a-129966C-ATI 2011.1109.2212.39826 11.12
8.95 17 January 8.95-120117a-131901E-ATI 2012.0117.2009.36062 N/A
12.1 WHQL 8.93-111205a-132104C-ATI 2011.1205.2215.39827 12.1
12.2 Preview 8.94-120120a-132259E-ATI.2 2012.0120.2218.39907 12.2
Tests and Settings

All 3 drivers are tested in 3 synthetic benchmarks and 6 games.

  • 1. 3DMark06 1.02 Professional Edition - 1680×1050 – 2xAA – Anti Aliasing Quality = 0 – 4xAF – Shader Model 2.0 = Return to Proxycon + Firefly Forest – HDR/Shader Model 3.0 = Canyon Flight + Deep Freeze – 2 Runs.
  • 2. Unigine – Heaven Benchmark 2.5 – 1680×1050 – High Shaders – Normal Tessellation(DirectX 11) – 2xAA – 4xAF – 2 Runs.
  • 3. Cinebench 11.5 – 3 Runs.
  • 4. Crysis 2 1.9 using Adrenaline Benchmark Tool – Extreme Preset – 1680×1050 – 4xAA – Hi-Res Textures – Central Park – 3 Runs.
  • 5. Metro 2033 using Update 1.2 Benchmark Tool – Very High Settings – 1680×1050 – 16xAF – No AA for DirectX 9 and 4xMSAA for DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 – 3 Runs.
  • 6. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. – Call of Pripyat – 1680×1050 – Extreme Preset (DirectX 9) – Ultra Preset (DirectX 10 & 11)
  • 7. DiRT 3 – Ultra Preset – 1680×1050 – 8xMSAA – 3 Runs
  • 8. Battlefield 3 – Ultra Preset – 1680×1050 – 4xMSAA – 16xAF – Multiplayer @ Strike at Karkand (32p map, Large Conquest), main street: US Deployment -> B Flag – 3 Runs x 60s.
  • 9. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim v1.3.10 – Ultra Preset – 1680×1050 – 8xAA – 16xAF – Tested in the area East of Rorikstead – 3 Runs x 60s.

All synthetic benchmarks were ran 2 times except Cinebench (3 runs), all games were ran 3 times.

Test System Specifications
Test Hardware | AMD Catalyst 12.1 WHQL and 12.2 Preview Benchmark

Intel Core i5-2500K (Sandy Bridge)

4.5 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

Table of Contents:

Page 1 – Introduction
Page 2 – 3DMark06, Unigine and Cinebench
Page 3 – Crysis 2, Metro 2033 and Call of Pripyat
Page 4 – Battlefield 3, DiRT 3 and Skyrim
Page 5 – Image Quality
Page 6 – Conclusion

Page 2 – 3DMark06, Unigine and Cinebench


    Great job tnx ;)

  • Edilsonj

    Please, remove Image Quality Test (I agree with you, I can’t see any difference) and include a page with chance log of drive and Batman Arkhan City benchmark.

    Congrats. It’s helpful.

  • Edilsonj

    Sorry, the “change log of driver”.

    My bad.

  • Paolo

    how does the 11.12 Beta 18 November driver (since it was the best driver before) compare with 8.95 17 January driver?

  • Alessandro

    ok for test, but graphic scaling it’s totally wrong… for example 3dmark, 50point difference but the graphics shows over 3 times better… and for games it’s the same.

    • Dovahk

      it’s my complain too, the graphics are confusing

      • Johnny 3D

        That’s because the graphs don’t start from 0, if they would start from 0 you wouldn’t notice the difference at all.

        • Alessandro

          ok but it doesn’t need that we must find at every cost differences… if various release of drivers has same performance, why enfatize 50 point over 10000 or 1fps over 60… i’ll choose driver for real best performance, not for a graph 3 times longer and no performance gain noticeable :)

  • yasin

    hey,how about doing some game benchmark?like afterfall insanity,edf armageddon and such?you can even try la noire with some unofficial 6o fps fix.would be a nice addition.

    • Johnny 3D

      No test worth game has been released in quite a while now. Those games only require SM 3.0 so it should work great on all decent GPUs.

      I’m pretty sure I’ll still hit that 60 FPS limit with L.A. Noire, no game that comes with a FPS limit is worth buying/benchmarking. Take it as a “boycott” if you will.

      • SolidEther

        There is truth to waht BM3D is saying.

        First of all you have to realize he must work with a budget and more important time he cannot just grab a bunch of titles and run benches on them all the time, and the services he renders is free so he picks the best leading edge titles with the most tecnical options and graphx special effects available. I also believe he chose a good selection of games Good FPS for that intense heavy action load on the card, then DiRT 3 (Luv that) to see how how good the drivers are with highly realistic graphic visuals also moving at intense speeds. For good measue he throws in some synthetic benches.

        I say it is a rather straight to the point well produced testing operation. I mean drivers are updated every month and more are released in between so how involved do you need to be when testing a driver so much that may be gone in a few weeks?

  • Johan

    Hey, Great job!
    What is the best driver for AMD 5000-Serie videocard in Battlefield 3? :)

    Thanks for the amzing job!

    • Johnny 3D

      Try 8.95 17 Jan, that’s what I’m using for BF3 and it rocks.

      • Johan

        Thanks for the reply :)
        Yes, Ihave same driver, but it’s lagging sometimes in BF3.

        But thanks you anyway.

        • Johnny 3D

          Check your RAM usage, after a while in the game (depending on the map and size) RAM usage will go crazy. 4GB isn’t really enough for BF3, especially on Ultra Settings.

  • gamer91

    thank for great job
    not many site have something like this.
    i often visit this site.(almost everyday)
    i like what the improvement…
    Good Luck!

  • ogut

    please 3dmark 11 benchmark review :D

  • undisput

    Same problem to me in BF3 with AMD Catalyst 12.1 WHQL drivers, after a time is lagging and i have 6GB ram, so the problem is not the ram. I used before with 11.12 drivers and it whas no problem.

    • Johnny 3D

      I still think it’s memory related, maybe a memory leak or pagefile related. Try disabling pagefile and see if that amelioartes the issue, having only 4 GB of RAM if I disable pagefile will only damage performance.

      What I noticed is that while the game laggs or stops responding for a few seconds, environmental components (trees, sky, smoke etc ) still get rendered and the only thing that doesn’t get rendered are characters and vehicles.

      Edit: Forgot to mention that while this happens HDD activity spikes through the roof.

      I can’t really put my finger on it…

      • Krist

        disable Windows 7 Aero will increase games fps ?
        does Windows 7 automatic disable aero when a full screen application like vídeo playback or games starts up to run ?

        • Johnny 3D

          Disabling Aero will only improve performance on old low end GPUs but only in Desktop. Going full screen will not disable Aero and it will still eat RAM and Video RAM, Aero’s memory footprint is rather small.

          I remember running Windows 7 with Aero on a 8 MB RAM Graphic Card and it ran as good and as fast as on a HD6950.

          I see no point in disabling Aero, it has great functionality and looks good. If you disable Aero you might as well go back to XP, sort of speak.

          Edit: I forgot to mention that if you want to know how much resources Aero takes you should monitor this process: dwm.exe; mine takes about 25 MB of RAM… Just note that if you enter a full screen game Aero will not need computing, that’s only in Desktop Mode.

          Furthermore disabling Aero might fix some compatibility issues with some older games but that is it…

          • Krist

            Thanks by your reply.
            I like Aero also. I jsut asked cause i was thinking about to record a macro key on my Cyclosa to disable aero before run VLC Media Player and/or any game to improve the fps.
            Processor Intel(R) Core(TM) i3-2100 CPU @ 3.10GHz 7,1
            Memory (RAM) 4,00 GB 7,5
            Grafics Elements AMD Radeon HD 6800 Series (XFX HD-685X-ZNFC 850/1150Mhz) 7,8
            Games Grafics 2805 Total of megabytes available in grafic memory 7,8
            Main Hard Drive 300GB available (466GB Total) 5,9
            From 1,0 to 7,9
            Not a top, but fair PC.
            I run my games Crysis/2, CoD MW 1/2/3/Blck Ops, F1 2011 (Ultra), Battlefiled 3/Deus Ex HR/Missing Link (High) @1080p AA2X and VSync, Crysis 1 (no AA/Motion Blur) very smooth.
            Driver 8.95 17 January with Catalyst Application Profiles 11.12 CAP 3 installed.

  • Adnan

    What drivers to use on 4850 :D
    battlefield 3 only

    • Johnny 3D

      I am still using 8.95 17 Jan to play Battlefield 3, try that..

  • undisput

    Best for Battlefield 3 is 8.95 17 jan ? It is stable, no more laagg after a while of playing? I am using 12.1 WHQL drivers. To remove this driver i must run the uninstaller then the driver sweeper?

  • Luciano Neves

    8.95 17 Jan is still the best to play Battlefield 3, I’ve tried them all with an HD6990.

    On the other hand, 12.1 WHQL stutters all the time for me on Battlefield 3.

  • Krist

    BenchmarK3D, i know you´re not tech support, but reading this discussion, i just want to know if you use any kind of optimizer utility like WinAso Registry Defrag/Disk Cleaner, AVG PC Tuneup, and Diskeeper 2011 Pro Premier with HyperFast.

    • gamer91

      my sugestion use “tu*e-up ut*ilit*es 2*12″
      then active “turbo mode”
      i think it give more perfomance..4% up to 7% more fps~

      • Krist

        Thanks gamer91, ‘m gonna try it.
        I read something about Game Booster, but i haven´t try it yet.

    • Johnny 3D

      Over the years I used a lot of “optimization applications”. Some of them are spywares, some are useless and some are conflicting with Windows.

      I stopped using that kind of software because I had to reinstall the operating system every other day, since then a Windows installation lasts about 6 months.

      Also, I don’t use any antivirus, antispyware etc.

      Just as a fun fact I have about 90 active processes and performance is great…

  • gamer91

    i have more suggestion!
    by default you can increase gaming performance by
    -update last-est software support for your game(like OS or driver’s)
    -update and use the good one of hardware driver’s
    -driver tweak or software tweak(OS tweak) yup like regcleaner or something like that
    -disable(or stop) un-useable windows service or un-needed background app while you gaming
    -check your fragmented hard-drive and file system error(bad sector)
    -OC (over clock) i love this one! ^-^

    i only know that…
    you can find more by ask

    • Krist

      Thanks again gamer91, all of your suggestions are already known.
      I cannot overclock my Intel Core i3-2100 CPU @ 3.10GHz (waiting for an Ivy Bridge i5-2500K)
      My XFX HD-685X-ZNFC is already overclocked to 850/1150Mhz (i don´t know if i can get higher unless i flash my BIOS to 6870) (dreaming with crossfire)
      I am testing the Turbo Mode (Turn Off Visual Effects and Switch to Classic Windows disabled for while), i disabling/enabling the Diskeeper and i didn´t make any benchmark, but i’m gonna do it running F1 2011 benckmark.

  • Krist

    gamer91 some gamez (F1 2011, Deus Ex HR/Missing Link, Battlefiled 3) are not working after i installed Tuneup Utilities.
    The app is fine it really makes the Windows “lighter” and increase some (few) fps, but it´s bad, except i cannot open these games anymore.
    I know it must a way to fiz it, so if you any clue, please let me know
    (i tried to Repair/Reinstall F1 2011, but the installer suddently not responding)

  • Krist

    I restored some cleaned registries and everything is working fine again.

    • gamer91

      i believe tun* up util*ti*es 2*12…
      don’t give me much trouble…
      before cleaning reg just backup it
      To : BenchmarK3D
      nice Benchmark on skyrim lastest update!
      anyway skyrim update 5 reloaded already popup….

  • gamer91

    Krist ,,
    Have Fun with your gaming…!

    • Krist

      Thanks again dude, i am not gonna post a review here, but anyone can find it here:
      (it´s not my review)
      I noticed less lags in Crysis 1.2.1 (I run the 64 bit in compatability mode for Vista SP2) with Crysis Xtreme FX caos MOD, and it´s smoother and better than before.
      My Windows 7 was using 1.3 GB (idle) of my 4 GB RAM, now it´s 0.9, and didn´t changed the visual effects.

  • Lyle

    I have a i5 2500k
    2xGigabyte 6870 Crossfire 1GB and I had alot of micro stuttering and massive frame drops in BF3. I upgraded to the 12.1a preview drivers which worked really well, but still the massive frame drop. I turned of MSAA and left Texture on Ultra and everything else on High with VSYNC on which kept me pretty much at 60FPS constant. I recently installed the 12.2 Preview drivers and it is like “BUTTER” feels smoother than the 12.1a drivers and I turned everything to Ultra With MSSA on 4x on the Gulf of Oman map which is one of the most intense maps. and I dipped only to 20FPS without any massive frame drops. I turned off MSSA and left everything at Ultra and it is super smooth running like “BUTTER”. I am also running the FXAA addin as well which takes some FPS. I never did try the 8.95 Jan 17 drivers, but 12.2 Preview are so good and newer I don’t think I would even bother.

    • Johnny 3D

      Have you tried disabling CF to see if the problem comes from there?

      Anyway this new 8.96 AMD driver is really great for BF3, if you wanna give it a try you can grab it from here: