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Radeon HD 4870 CrossFire: Driver Update From 8.6 to 8.8

Do New Drivers Really Boost Performance?
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If you believe the conjecture, the Catalyst 8.8 driver should introduce a considerable performance improvement in CrossFire mode. Particularly when it comes to communication between two graphics cards, ATI is able to optimize in many games.

 At present, no standard clocked CPU is available that fully taxes this dual package.

Assassins Creed in fps 1280
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1680
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1920
0xAA
1280
4xAA
1680
4xAA
1920
4xAA
Overall
HD 4870 CF (512 MB) 8.6 56.0 56.0 56.8 42.3 43.4 43.7 298.2
HD 4870 CF (512 MB) 8.8 55.4 55.9 56.7 42.6 42.1 42.9 295.6
Difference in performance in percentage -1.1 -0.2 -0.2 0.7 -3.0 -1.8 -0.9

The new graphics driver doesn’t appear to increase the frame rates.

Call of Duty 4 in fps 1280
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1680
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1920
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1280
4xAA
1680
4xAA
1920
4xAA
Overall
HD 4870 CF (512 MB) 8.6 146.9 135.4 125.7 129.6 118.3 111.7 767.6
HD 4870 CF (512 MB) 8.8 147.5 140.0 129.6 135.4 116.8 107.3 776.6
Difference in performance in percentage 0.4 3.4 3.1 4.5 -1.3 -3.9 1.2

The fluctuations are a little more extreme, but they’re in the tolerance region for driver optimizations.

Crysis High in fps 1280
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1680
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1920
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1280
4xAA
1680
4xAA
1920
4xAA
Overall
HD 4870 CF (512 MB) 8.6 29.6 27.4 27.0 24.4 21.8 20.7 150.9
HD 4870 CF (512 MB) 8.8 29.3 25.8 26.7 24.2 21.3 20.4 147.7
Difference in performance in percentage -1.0 -5.8 -1.1 -0.8 -2.3 -1.4 -2.1

Again, we aren’t seeing any appreciable gain after updating to the Catalyst 8.8 driver set. In fact, these losses are generally with a reasonable margin of error.

Crysis Very High in fps 1280
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1680
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1920
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1280
4xAA
1680
4xAA
1920
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Overall
HD 4870 CF (512 MB) 8.6 27.6 25.0 22.4 22.1 19.1 14.5 130.7
HD 4870 CF (512 MB) 8.8 26.7 24.8 20.9 22.0 18.0 12.9 125.3
Difference in performance in percentage -3.3 -0.8 -6.7 -0.5 -5.8 -11.0 -4.1

The new graphics driver sinks the frame rates in Very High setting and in some of the higher resolutions by six percent to 11 percent.

ET: Quake Wars in fps 1280
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1680
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1920
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1280
4xAA
1680
4xAA
1920
4xAA
Overall
HD 4870 CF (512 MB) 8.6 59.9 57.8 54.2 58.1 55.1 52.9 338.0
HD 4870 CF (512 MB) 8.7 65.0 65.6 65.2 62.6 62.7 62.5 383.6
Difference in performance in percentage 8.5 13.5 20.3 7.7 13.8 18.1 13.5

The use of the Catalyst 8.7 instead of the Catalyst 8.8 unfortunately meant using different graphics drivers in this test versus the others, which you wouldn’t typically do in the real world. As a result, the considerable performance gain of up to 20 percent is interesting to observe, though it’s still a shame we weren’t able to provide comparative numbers for 8.8.

Half-Life 2 Episode 2 in fps 1280
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1680
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1920
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1280
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1920
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Overall
HD 4870 CF (512 MB) 8.6 103.2 97.7 98.0 102.6 97.5 96.2 595.2
HD 4870 CF (512 MB) 8.8 104.7 99.5 98.3 102.5 99.0 97.1 601.1
Difference in performance in percentage 1.5 1.8 0.3 -0.1 1.5 0.9 1.0

Half-Life 2 Episode 2 displays no performance increase due to the driver update.

Mass Effect in fps 1280
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1680
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1920
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1280
4xAA
1680
4xAA
1920
4xAA
1280
8xAA
1680
8xAA
1920
8xAA
Overall
HD 4870 CF (512 MB) 8.6 93.2 91.8 90.9 89.6 86.8 74.0 88.9 86.0 72.2 773.4
HD 4870 CF (512 MB) 8.8 92.6 91.7 89.3 87.3 86.2 74.7 88.0 84.0 72.7 766.5
Difference in performance in percentage -0.6 -0.1 -1.8 -2.6 -0.7 0.9 -1.0 -2.3 0.7 -0.9

The results lie within the measurement tolerance; no improvement can be seen.

MS Flight Simulator X SP2 in fps 1280
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1680
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1920
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1280
4xAA
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1920
4xAA
Overall
HD 4870 CF (512 MB) 8.6 24.3 24.5 24.9 25.3 25.2 25.3 149.5
HD 4870 CF (512 MB) 8.8 24.5 24.9 24.4 24.6 25.0 24.7 148.1
Difference in performance in percentage 0.8 1.6 -2.0 -2.8 -0.8 -2.4 -0.9

Here, again, there are no improvement or losses worth mentioning; the values lie within the margin for error.

World in Conflict in fps 1280
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1280
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1920
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Overall
HD 4870 CF (512 MB) 8.6 46.9 48.1 47.0 46.4 46.4 44.6 279.4
HD 4870 CF (512 MB) 8.8 46.0 46.9 45.6 43.4 46.0 43.2 271.1
Difference in performance in percentage -1.9 -2.5 -3.0 -6.5 -0.9 -3.1 -3.0

The driver update generates a minor loss in performance, apart from the -6.5 percent in the 1280 resolution (4xAA); other fluctuations can be considered measuring tolerances.

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