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Archive for June 12th, 2009

What ATI Catalyst Driver is best for your card?

Posted by iusbvision on June 12, 2009

This is a question that computer guru’s are asked frequently, “I have an ATI video card and what ATI driver version is the best for me?” or “What catalyst driver is best for World of Warcraft?”

Some people reflexively say “the latest one” but tests show that this is not always the case. Unless you need a specific driver version that fixed a specific bug for your favorite game, for ATI card owners the correct driver for you is the driver that contains what is known as “the sweet spot”; that is, the driver version that was optimized for your series of ATI card.

You see each driver version is designed to take advantage of ATI’s latest piece of hardware on the market. When Catalyst 8.2 came out the ATI 3870 was the top of the line card, my ATI 3850 is nearly the same piece of hardware so it is no surprise that with the 8.2 driver in Half-life: the Lost Coast this driver nets me 116 FPS in the video stress test, but the newer 8.12 driver only nets me 105 FPS, the newest 9.x series driver net me under 90 FPS.  When the 8.4 driver came out the ATI 4700 series cards came out so the drivers were optimized for that piece of hardware instead of my 3850.

The Tweaktown website gives a catalyst performance review of each driver set and you can look at the benchmarks of the older drivers and see which driver version gives your ATI card had the highest frame rate. For 3800 series card owners the 8.2 is solidly the best performing driver and only reason to use another version would be if you had a game specific bug with that driver that you needed to work around.

For the record, between driver version tests I ran the ATI uninstall utility, driver cleaner pro and CCleaner between installing each driver version for testing. In World Of Warcraft in Silvermoon City at the mailbox by the main gate looking into town I got 37 FPS with the 9.5 driver, the same with the 9.4. I recived 54 FPS with the 8.12 driver and 104 FPS with the 8.2. The card in my machine is a 3850 from Sapphire.

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