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Catalyst 9.12 CrossFire: Performance is Clawing its Way Back Up
George Ross, December 26, 2009

Time to once again take a gander at ATI's CrossFire performance in the latest Catalyst release and this time it is the Catalyst 9.12 that is under inspection. As of recently there has been somewhat of a slump in CrossFire performance that followed a consistent increase in CrossFire performance with each Catalyst release this summer.

Test Hardware
Here are the particulars on the machine that was used in testing.

Processor AMD Phenom II X4 940 Black Edition @ 3.8GHz
Motherboard FOXCONN A79A-S
Memory G.SKILL 4GB DDR2 1100 (PC2 8800) @ 533MHz (DDR 1066) 5-5-5-15 Dual Channel Mode
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda ES.2 ST3250310NS 250GB 7200 RPM 32MB cache SATA 3.0Gb/s
Video Cards MSI Radeon HD 4890 @ 880 MHz core 999 MHz (3996 Gb/s) memory
Catalyst 9.12
MSI Radeon HD 4890 @ 880 MHz core 999 MHz (3996 Gb/s) memory
MSI Radeon HD 4890 @ 880 MHz core 999 MHz (3996 Gb/s) memory
Catalyst 9.12
Optical Disk Drive Pioneer DVR-215DBK
Power Supply Rosewill Xtreme RX750-S-B 750W
Operating System Windows Vista Ultimate x64 SP1

Gaming Benchmarks

CrossFire gives you a 19% boost in your 3D Mark 06 Benchmarketing numbers.

Unreal Tournament III improves to the tune of 9% in overall average frames per second when using CrossFire.

The overall average frames per second sees a 7% increase in the Crysis tests when CrossFire is enabled. The benefits of CrossFire do not become apparent until it is used at higher resolutions and quality settings.

The World in Conflict tests see a 4% increase in overall average frames per second when using CrossFire, and there are no real benefits are to be had until you use the highest quality settings and resolutions.

I love how CrossFire reacts to Devil May Cry 4 it gives you an 89% increase in overall average frames per second. If only all games reacted this well to multi-GPU technologies.

Resident Evil 5 keeps its preference of a single GPU over using CrossFire.

When looking at all of the game tests combined the CrossFire setup manages to outpace the single GPU setup to the tune of 34% in overall average frames per second. This is an improvement over the Catalyst 9.11 which only managed a 30% gain in the same test bed.

Power Consumption
As per normal there is a boost in power consumed when adding a second GPU. When CrossFire is used for gaming the power usage goes up 55% with only a 34% increase in overall average frames per second. Additionally when you system is at an idle state you will see the power usage increase by 37%, and there are no benefits that CrossFire can bring here.

If you currently are using the Catalyst 9.11 driver with your CrossFire rig than the move to the Catalyst 9.12 is a no brainer. If you are considering adding a second GPU to your setup to obtain more graphics performance be careful as not all games benefit from CrossFire.

Here's to hoping that the Catalyst 10 series of drivers deliver even more CrossFire performance in the coming year.

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