UPDATE: ATI Steps Up With A Hotfixed Driver
If you're German (or paid attention to the comments section in Part 1 of this series), then you know the results of Part 2 have been around a while on Tom's Hardware DE. We've held on to the piece here in the US, though, pending the results of testing with ATI's hotfixed driver.
As you can see, the performance in Catalyst 10.1 (our hotfixed version, not the publicly-available driver) is substantially better than Catalyst 9.12 with Aero enabled, in the case of polygons, even surpassing the performance of 9.12 in Windows XP. This is the fix we've been looking for.
You'll also notice that, with the latest version of the benchmark (linked on the previous page), we're also showing a performance drop with the Desktop Window Manager disabled. We've tested, retested, tested on multiple machines, and found the same results. ATI has done the same in its lab and not been able to reproduce our results.
However, this is of less consequence to us, as there's little reason to disable Aero if the experience with it on is superior. Our numbers (and the ones ATI has run) agree in this regard. At the end of the day, the issue we originally reported has been addressed and tentatively fixed, with significant performance speed-ups in Windows 7 on the Radeon HD 5000-series cards with Aero enabled.
Now, as mentioned, this driver isn't available yet. ATI says it will be integrating its fixes into a future release, but we wouldn't expect them until Catalyst 10.3 or 10.4; we'll post a news update when ATI confirms that the Catalyst driver has officially been
updated with the fixes.
Special thanks to ATI's software engineering team for quickly addressing the Windows 7-based issues we presented, implementing a quick (albeit not yet public) fix, and working with us to ensure that the folks buying these cards get the user experience they expect, regardless of whether they're gamers, artists, or engineers!