AMD’s Catalyst 12.11 brings some nice surprises

So, lets say you have a HD7000 graphics card from AMD. You like it, you play games on it, its your baby. So lets say that you’ve now gone and compared your performance with that of similar cards from Nvidia and you’re wondering if you actually got a good deal. Yes, I can see the cogs inside your head turning as you think about making a swap for something better. But wait! …there’s a little pop-up that says the Catalyst 12.11 driver is available! Dare you investigate further?

UPDATE: It looks like the Never Settle Bundle promotion won’t be available on our shores.

First off, Catalyst 12.11 will be out later today as its still seeding to servers in the EMEA region, while American owners have received the notification already. You can download it yourself or wait for the pop-up, but for those of you playing Battlefield 3 you might feel compelled to get the update as quickly as your line will allow. Catalyst 12.11 doesn’t bring a lot of new features but does improve performance across the board measurably.

Starting off with the HD7970, there’s a lot of improvements across the board at 1920 x 1200, bringing significant improvements to DiRT3, Shogun 2 and Battlefield 3 (to the tune of 29%). The HD7870 shows major improvements in the same three games but to a smaller degree. The HD7770 boasts even smaller margins, but also improves the dismal showing in Starcraft 2 with the Catalyst 12.7 driver.

The performance seen from the Frostbyte 2.0-powered Battlefield is an interesting one, being tackled so late by the driver team. Its probably been done now because Medal of Honour: Warfighter is also a Frostbyte 2.0-powered game and the engine will feature in quite a few future titles. This does two things, both of which screw with Nvidia’s prospects in the market. One, it draws performance up to the same level as the competition:

With prices of the HD7970 dropping to around the same level as the GTX680 cards, it now has performance that’s generally in line with the competition, if only better by a hair’s margin. And that’s where AMD would prefer it to stay, because; 2) the company can now effectively compete again on price with extra bundles added to the package:

When buying a HD7950 or HD7970 card, you’ll qualify for 20% off the new Medal of Honour: Warfighter title as well as free copies of Far Cry 3, Hitman: Absolution and even Sleeping Dogs. That’s an estimated $170 saving off the games that you might be playing if you’re buying one of these puppies. Those buying two cards for Crossfire will receive a free copy of Absolution, while those buying single HD7800 cards or the HD7770 will only get Far Cry for free.

And it doesn’t stop there. See, over the weekend I was following a LAN event that AMD held and one of the things that caught my eye was the amount of branding for released and unreleased titles that suggest that AMD’s engineers have had at least some hand in improving their performance. Tomb Raider and Far Cry 3 were two examples, with the rest shown on the banner below suggesting they’ll perform better on Radeon hardware and may be bundled with the cards in future.

Gaming Evolved has so far been about improving performance in select titles and bundling one of a few of these together with their high-end performers. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing how Bioshock Infinite handles (mostly because I want that Songbird collector’s edition like a fat kid wants chocolate cake) and also because I might be buying some new hardware next year to keep up with the Joneses. The bundles are subject to region and store availability, so check first before you buy.

Does this persuade anyone to join the red team this time around? Let us know in the comments section and the forums!

Source: TechpowerUp! (link1, link2)

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