The Test

For our test setup, the only thing that's really changed is our use of the AMD Athlon 4600+ in the system. In order to compare dual core and single core numbers, we setup a multiboot by adding another option to our boot.ini file. Microsoft provides quite a few convenient boot options, including the ability to specify exactly which kernel and HAL to load. We opted to use the easier /ONECPU option which forces multiprocessor systems to ignore all but a single processor. This should give us essentially the same result as testing a 3800+ single core when used on our 4600+ system (2.4GHz with 512kb cache).

CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600+ (2.4GHz/512kb)
Motherboard: ASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe
Chipset: NVIDIA nForce4 SLI X16
Chipset Drivers: nForce4 6.82
Memory: 2x 512MB OCZ PC3500 DDR 2-2-2-7
Video Card: ATI Radeon X1800 XL
Video Drivers: ATI Catalyst 5.11 (WHQL)
ATI Catalyst 5.12 (Beta)
Desktop Resolution: 1280x960 - 32-bit @ 85Hz
OS: Windows XP Professional SP2
Power Supply: OCZ PowerStream 600W PSU

ATI singled out Battlefield 2 and FarCry as games that got the best boost from the driver, so we absolutely wanted to include those in our first look at this new driver. To try to get a balanced view, we also included the two other games: Day of Defeat Source and Quake 4. As the driver gets nearer to release we will work on looking at more cards, more games, and more settings, but hopefully this quick test will answer the most pressing questions.

Index Performance Comparison: Cat 5.11 vs. Cat 5.12


View All Comments

  • bldckstark - Monday, December 5, 2005 - link

    The gentlemen at Sanda National Labs don't see the parallelization "problem" the same as most of the computing community, and take exception to Mr. Amdahl's observation. They have shown that the possible multiple CPU parallelization improvement can exceed Amdahl's theoretical maximum. They state that as the number of processors increase, the size of the problem introduced to the system increases allowing speeds above those previously thought possible. Here's a link to the horribly boring article.">Extremely Boring Paper With Too Much Math

    Thank God we got that cleared up. Now maybe I'll be able to sleep tonight. 8>}
  • phusg - Monday, December 5, 2005 - link

    Interesting review, although disappointing performance.

    Just commenting to say don't forget about us SMPers! All the talk is about DC although not everyone with a dual CPU has it on the same die!!! I have a dual 760MPX board with a Radeon 9600 Pro and am hoping these driver improvement will really help me out.
  • Humble Magii - Monday, December 5, 2005 - link

    This article is silly....

    Seriously I have been a long time Anandtech reader and this past year I have noticed a huge dropoff in quality! What ever happened to Anand's in depth reviews of CPU's and their architecture? I don't see that type of enthusiasm or detail anymore here.

    Are the specific reviewers for certain articles biased? It seems this is the case whoever reviews a certain product nowadays is biased on this site. The new ATI drivers are crap not to mention are in beta.....

    Who the hell cares about a driver update I mean seriously unless it was a huge change for the better or worse why report it? I don't see reviews on forceware changes or an AT article on the dual core drivers for Nvidia? I suppose there are no pro nvidia people at AT or at least maybe Nvidia doesn't pony up to AT's reviewer here?

    Who has problems with Nvidia's newer drivers? I sure as hell haven't and I have a 4800+ with two 512mb 7800 GTX's. I never had problems with Nvidia's drivers. Everyone has a different system and just because you yourself have a problem when the majority do not does not mean the product sucks. I have had issues with a bios update utility due to beta creative drivers for a sb audigy I mean please people I would have never of thought of that but most problems happen because of what other software you have installed.

    Who cares about the ATI X1K series I don't and most of the world doesn't especially since they are replacing it supposedly coming soon next year so why bother? They aren't even cost effective performance solutions comapred to Nvidia. Oh I would love to try a crossfire solution too bad there are zero around so guess what the only performance in graphics today is Nvidia. That's what we are stuck with now.

    I swear this site no matter the trash ATI puts out will post it and put it in a better light. The forums here are even worse with all the newbs and their uneducated hate and bias to other solutions.

    The site is dying Anand please replace Derek Wilson and some other members and start taking control of the reviews again everyone sorely misses you :(.
  • heulenwolf - Monday, December 5, 2005 - link

    I have to agree on the point that since this driver update provides limited improvement, does it really warrant all the work Anandtech is putting into it. I own graphics cards from both ATI and NVIDIA and tend to go for midrange cards, so I can see some relevance to similar users who happen to own an x1000 series card. At the same time, as the previous poster points out, the advantage from a change of cards is far greater. So why so much testing that it has to be broken up into multiple reviews for a single driver providing such a small performance gain to users of a single line of cards who run at low resolutions and only play certain games? The benefit just seems small for so much work unless Anandtech can substantially tie it to a more general problem. My recommendation to the author, then, is to spend a little more time describing why you did all the testing - what it tells us - up front and tie it to a more general problem users may have. Reply
  • bob661 - Monday, December 5, 2005 - link


    small performance gain to users of a single line of cards who run at low resolutions and only play certain games?
    So the WE, the user, can know that this driver only provides "small performance gains". How else would you know?
  • bob661 - Monday, December 5, 2005 - link

    Damn it.....So THAT we... Reply
  • heulenwolf - Tuesday, December 6, 2005 - link

    So, now we know. Where's the need for a follow up? Reply
  • hondaman - Monday, December 5, 2005 - link

    I think this review is quite interesting. There is a lot of chatter in the channels about how DC is useless for gaming. Its reviews like this that give us guys with dual core cpus hope that our cpus are good for more than just playing mp3's and encoding movies all at the same time. Reply
  • DrZoidberg - Monday, December 5, 2005 - link

    well after reading this article i still feel DC is only slightly useful when u are solely gaming. I mean why pay $200 extra for 2nd core to get 5% benefit at low res and when gaming at high res the benefit drops to like 2%. Like x2 3800+ and 3200+ are both 2ghz and about $200 difference and with these dual core drivers the 3800+ wins by 5%.

    Rather put the extra $200 to video card if main purpose of comp is to game and improvement will be like 30%+, like going from 6600gt to 7800gt. However multitasking is a totally different story. Encoding movie and gaming at same time, then dual core is very worth it.
  • porkster - Monday, December 5, 2005 - link

    You may only get 5% as the games are not taking advantage of the new features. Reply

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