The Battle of the Betas: Catalyst 12-11 vs. GeForce 310.33 – HD 7970 GHz vs GTX 680 revisited
As part of a feature for AlienBabelTech, this editor is comparing the performance of 28 benchmarks with the last week’s 12.11 Beta “never settle” Catalyst driver release versus the latest Geforce 310.33 beta divers which also promise good performance increases.
This driver performance evaluation will give a natural comparison between the performance improvements for the GTX 680 versus the HD 7970 at GHz speeds. Both sets of beta drivers were released this last week and we naturally ask ourselves if the performance improvements for the Radeon HD 7970 in games will finally move the GHz edition ahead of the GTX 680.
We are going to test Catalyst 12-11 beta and GeForce 310.33 beta using our current benchmark suite of 25 games plus 3 synthetic benchmarks, Heaven 2.0, 3DMark 11 and Vantage. Our testing platform is Windows 7 64-bit, using Intel Core i7-3770K at 4.50GHz, EVGA Z77FTW motherboard and 8GB DD3, and the settings and hardware are identical except for the video cards.
The HD 7970 and the GTX 680 are tested at higher settings and resolutions generally than we test the midrange cards as noted on the chart. All of our games are tested at two resolutions: 2560×1600 and 1920×1200, and we use DX11/10/10.1 whenever possible with an emphasis on DX11 games.
Let’s get right to the test configuration, the driver release notes and the tests.
Test Configuration & Driver Release Notes
Test Configuration – Hardware
- Intel Core i7 3770K (overclocked to 4.5GHz); Turbo is on.
- EVGA Z77 FTW motherboard (Intel Z77 chipset, latest beta BIOS, PCIe 3.0 specification; CrossFire/SLI 16x+16x using Plex chip.)
- 8GB Kingston DDR3 PC1866 Kingston RAM (4×2 GB, dual-channel at 1866MHz; supplied by Kingston)
- Power Color Radeon HD 7970 (3GB, overclocked to GHz speeds 1050/6000MHz)
- Nvidia GTX 680 (2GB, 1006/6008MHz, reference clocks), supplied by Nvidia
- Onboard Realtek Audio
- Two identical 500 GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 hard drives configured and set up identically from drive image; one partition for Nvidia GeForce drivers and one for ATI Catalyst drivers
- Thermaltake ToughPower 775 W power supply unit supplied by Thermaltake
- Thermaltake Overseer RX-I full tower case, supplied by Thermaltake
- Thermaltake Water2.0 Pro CPU cooler, supplied by Thermaltake
- Philips DVD SATA writer
- HP LP3065 2560×1600 thirty inch LCD
Test Configuration – Software
- ATi Catalyst 12-11 Beta drivers; highest quality mip-mapping set in the driver; use application settings; surface performance optimizations are off
- NVIDIA GeForce WHQL 310.33. High Quality
- Windows 7 64-bit; very latest updates
- Latest DirectX
- All games are patched to their latest versions.
- vsync is forced off in the control panels.
- Varying AA enabled as noted in games; all in-game settings are specified with 16xAF always applied; 16xAF forced in control panel for Crysis.
- All results show average frame rates
- Highest quality sound (stereo) used in all games.
- Windows 7 64, all DX9 titles were run under DX9 render paths, DX10 titles were run under DX10 render paths and DX11 titles under DX11 render paths.
- 3DMark 11
- Heaven 3.0
- Left 4 Dead 2
- Serious Sam 3 BFE
- Alan Wake: Ameican Nightmare
- Far Cry 2
- Just Cause 2
- World-in-Conflict: Soviet Assault
- Resident Evil 5
- Alien vs. Predator
- STALKER, Call of Pripyat
- Metro 2033
- F1 2010
- H.A.W.X. 2
- Lost Planet 2
- Total War: Shogun II
- Civilization V
- Crysis 2
- Dirt 3
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution
- Batman: Arkham City
- Battlefield 3
- Max Payne 3
- the Secret World
- Borderlands 2
Lets look at some of the release notes from AMD regarding the Catalyst 12.11 beta as well as for the GeForce 310.33 beta before we head to performance testing. First up, the highlights of the new GeForce beta.
Release Notes Highlights for GeForce 310.33
Please see the GeForce 310.33 Release Highlights
This is a beta driver from the new GeForce R310 family of drivers.
New in R310 Drivers:
- Performance Boost – Increases performance for GeForce 400/500/600 Series GPUs in several PC games vs. GeForce 306.97 WHQL-certified drivers. Results will vary depending on your GPU and system configuration:
GeForce GTX 680:
- Up to 11% in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Up to 6% in StarCraft II
- Up to 6% in Batman: Arkham City
GeForce GTX 660:
- Up to 6% in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Up to 3% in Batman: Arkham City
- Up to 4% in Dragon Age II
- NVIDIA 3D Vision – Adds or updates the following 3D Vision profiles:
- Assassin’s Creed III rated Not Recommended
- Bloody Good Time rated Good
- Bullet Run rated Fair
- Call of Duty Black Ops 2 rated Good
- Carrier Command: Gaea Mission rated 3D Vision Ready
- Dark Souls rated Fair
- Dishonored rated Fair
- FIFA 13 rated Good
- Hitman: Absolution rated Fair
- I Am Alive rated Fair
- MLB 2K12 rated Fair
- NBA 2K12 rated Good
- Need for Speed: Most Wanted rated Fair
- Sniper Elite V2 rated Poor
- Tiny Troopers rated Fair
- Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD rated Good
- Total War Battles: SHOGUN rated Good
- XCOM: Enemy Unknown rated Fair
- NVIDIA SLI Technology – Adds or updates the following SLI profiles:
- Dirt: Showdown – updated SLI profile
- Dota 2 – updated SLI profile
- Dou Zhan Shen – updated SLI profile
- F1 2012 – added SLI profile
- FIFA 13 – sdded SLI profile
- Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad – updated SLI profile
- Other Profile Updates
- Updated NVIDIA Control Panel ambient occlusion support for Counter-strike: Global Offensive
- Added NVIDIA Control Panel ambient occlusion support for Cross Fire
- Updated NVIDIA Control Panel ambient occlusion support for Darksides 2
- Added NVIDIA Control Panel ambient occlusion support for Dragon Nest
- Updated NVIDIA Control Panel ambient occlusion support for Guild Wars 2
- Updated NVIDIA Control Panel ambient occlusion support for Mechwarrrior Online
- Added NVIDIA Control Panel ambient occlusion support for Meng San Guo
- NVIDIA CUDA
- Includes support for applications built using CUDA 5 or earlier version of the CUDA Toolkit. More information at http://developer.nvidia.com/cuda-toolkit
- Installs PhysX System Software v9.12.0904.
- Installs HD Audio v184.108.40.206.
- Supports OpenGL 4.3 for GeForce 400-series and later GPUs.
- Supports DisplayPort 1.2 for GeForce GTX 600 series GPUs.
- Supports multiple languages and APIs for GPU computing: CUDA C, CUDA C++, CUDA Fortran, OpenCL, DirectCompute, and Microsoft C++ AMP.
- Supports single GPU and NVIDIA SLI technology on DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 11, and OpenGL, including 3-way SLI, Quad SLI, and SLI support on SLI-certified Intel and AMD motherboards.
Now lets look at the release notes from AMD regarding Catalyst 12.11 Beta drivers.
Always start here to download AMD graphics drivers.
FEATURE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE AMD CATALYST 12.11 BETA DRIVER:
This driver introduces significant performance improvements for many games across ALL 28nm AMD Radeon™ HD 7000 Series products: HD 7700, HD7800 and HD7900.
Performance Highlights of the AMD CATALYST 12.11 BETA Driver
10%-15% more performance in Battlefield 3 in most cases
More than 20% in certain missions and sequences (Comrades)
Up to 7% more performance in Metro 2033
Up to 10% more performance in DIRT Showdown
Up to 8% more performance in Sleeping Dogs
Up to 12% more performance in Civilization V
Up to 10% more performance in StarCraft II
Up to 8% more performance in Sniper Elite: V2
Resolved issue highlights of AMD Catalyst 12.11 Beta Driver
- Medal of Honor: Warfighter; AMD Catalyst 12.11 Beta4 resolves an application crash found when running in AMD CrossFire mode with Anti-Aliasing enabled (This issue was observed in the AMD Catalyst 12.11 Beta3; The AMD Catalyst 12.11 Beta4 has replaced the AMD Catalyst 12.11 Beta3 driver that was posted Oct 22 2012).
- Resolves performance issues (where GPU activity runs at lower values than expected) seen on the AMD Radeon HD 7870.
- AMD Catalyst Mobility 7970M performance for AMD Enduro™ Technology supported platforms has been substantially improved for DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 applications. An updated driver for 7970M users featuring AMD Enduro™ Technology with additional DirectX 9 performance improvements will be released soon.
- 3DMark Vantage – Up to 15%
- 3DMark 11 – Up to 12%
- AvP – Up to 11%
- Battlefield 3 – Up to 25%
- Crysis 2: Up to 45%
- DiRT Showdown – Up to 62%
- ETQW – Up to 8%
- Hard Reset – Up to 8%
- Just Cause 2 – Up to 90%
- The Chronicles of Riddick – Up to 4%
- Shogun 2 – Up to 56%
- Sniper Elite V2 – Up to 60%
- Tom Clancy’s HAWX – Up to 56%
- Unigine Heaven – Up to 33%
- Wolfenstein – Up to 9%
Download and install the Driver from the following location:
- AMD Catalyst 12.11 Beta Driver for Windows® 8, Windows 7 and Windows Vista®
- AMD Catalyst 12.11 Beta Driver for Windows 8, Windows 7 and Windows Vista – with .NET 4 Support
- AMD Catalyst 12.11 Beta Driver for Linux
Let’s head to the charts and see the performance comparison in 25 games and in 3 synthetics since we tested the GTX 680 versus the HD 7970 last.
Benchmarks & Conclusion
Here are our results of twenty-eight benchmarks – twenty-five games and three synthetics – compared between Catalyst 12.11 beta against the latest GeForce beta 310.33 drivers.
“Wins” between the two video cards are in bold; if there is a tie, both results will be in bold type.
We note some serious performance improvements with Catalyst 12-11 beta in more than several games since we tested it last time. Generally the performance increases are across the board and have finally moved the HD 7970 at GHz speeds ahead of the GTX 680 in about a 3:4 ratio in our benchmark suite!* We also find that the newest GeForce driver also brought good performance gains and recommend that you download and upgrade to the very latest drivers no matter which video card you may have!
*(Note: We fixed the bolding typos in our chart and the ratio of GeForce wins to losses is approximately 3:4, not 2:3 as originally stated)
Do not forget to download and install the Catalyst Application Profiles (CAP) if applicable to your PC (they are downloaded in addition to Catalyst 12-11 from the same AMD support page).
To sum it up, we would recommend upgrading to either of these latest betas because there are real advantages, and the pluses that we found outweigh the rare few negatives. AMD’s driver team has generally brought ten months of driver improvements all at once to HD 7000 series.
We have to also give our recommendation to the latest GeForce 310.33 beta drivers. In most cases they provide excellent performance increases with no real negatives that we have encountered. We’ll be back to expand this testing to multi-GPU and to more of the Kepler and Tahiti families when the WHQL versions of these drivers are released.
In the mean time, check ABT’s forum for the best tech discussions anywhere. You can expect an evaluation of Cooler Master’s new 1000W Silent Pro Platinum PSU tonight as well as a new (mystery) article tomorrow morning!
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