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Catalyst 9.9 CrossFire Performance: Sailing the Seas of GPU Scaling
George Ross, September 20, 2009

A new month a new Catalyst release ATI has been keeping up with it promise to have freshly baked video card drivers every month and as of recently CrossFire performance has been improving with every release. Does this trend still hold true?

Test Hardware
Sometimes in the pursuit of obtaining more performance from computer hardware a soldier dies. This is the fate that befell one of the HD 4890's that have been used in testing. As a result there will be no third HD 4890 for these tests. Sorry.

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 9.9
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 9.9
Optical Disk Drive Pioneer DVR-215DBK
Power Supply Rosewill Xtreme RX750-S-B 750W
Operating System Windows Vista Ultimate x64 SP1

Gaming Benchmarks

Same old here the adding a second GPU to the mix gives you an 18% increase in 3D Marks.

Unreal Tournament III only responds well to CrossFire at the highest settings, but does manage to outpace the single GPU setup by 3% across all tests.

The CrossFired setup looses out to the single GPU setup in Crysis in overall average frames. Using CrossFire does allow you to play the game at higher resolutions and quality settings.

World in Conflict has improved CrossFire performance over the previously released Catalyst 9.8 overtaking the single GPU setup by 9% in overall average frames per second.

Again as always Devil May Cry 4 reacts beautifully to CrossFire yielding a 91% improvement in overall average frames per second. Wouldn't it be nice CrossFire worked this well with all games?

The newly added Resident Evil 5 tests show that this game does not respond well to CrossFire. The single GPU setup managed to outperform the CrossFire setup in overall average frames per second.

Compared to the Catalyst 9.8 drivers the Catalyst 9.9 drivers perform the same at 42% increase in overall average frames per second. Resident Evil 5 numbers were not taken into consideration with this comparison as the Catalyst 9.8 drivers were not tested with this game. Taking the Resident Evil 5 numbers into consideration the performance increase shrinks to 33%.

Power Consumption
We need more power!

No real visible improvements with CrossFire performance with the release of the Catalyst 9.9 driver package. CrossFire can however help you to achieve higher resolutions and quality settings when playing certain games. The recent trend of improved CrossFire performance with each Catalyst release has stalled. Here's to hoping it picks back up.

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