Catalyst 15.7 WHQL Performance Analysis Featuring Fury X & 290X

As part of a regular feature for BabelTechReviews, this driver analysis will compare the performance of 32 PC games using the new WHQL Catalyst 15.7 driver which was released this past week, with the Fury X Catalyst 15.15b launch drivers, and versus the 15.5 Beta Catalyst driver that we last tested the R9 290X with. We will also give the reference GTX 980 Ti results using its very latest WHQL 353.30 drivers for another direct comparison with the Fury X.

This driver performance analysis features AMD’s new top single-GPU flagship Fury X, and AMD’s former flagship Radeon R9 290X, although we plan to regularly test lesser cards also for upcoming evaluations.  We want to at least document the performance changes of this important WHQL driver set as it finally brings together a unified driver for Fury, 200 and 300 series.

KiteDemo 2015-06-27 12-44-37-02We are going to give you the performance results of the Fury X and the R9 290X at 1920×1080, 2560×1440, and at 3840×2160, using 32 games and 3 synthetics tests including the “Kite Demo” on Unreal Engine 4. This driver performance evaluation will compare the performance changes since AMD’s older 15.5 beta driver set, the Fury launch drivers,  and the new WHQL 15.7 driver.

Our testing platform is Windows 8.1 64-bit, using an Intel Core i7-4790K which turbos all cores to 4.4GHz, an ASUS Z97E motherboard, and 16GB of Kingston “Beast” HyperX RAM at 2133MHz. The settings and hardware are identical except for the drivers being tested.

At R9 280X and above, we test at higher settings and at higher resolutions generally than we test midrange and lower-end cards.  All of our games are now tested at three resolutions at 60Hz: 3840×2160, 2560×1440, and 1920×1080, and we use DX11 whenever possible with a very strong emphasis on the latest DX11 games.  We no longer benchmark at 2560×1600, but instead use the more popular 2560×1440 resolution.

Several games have had updates which have changed their settings.  Shadows of Mordor has patched in FXAA and Camera + Object Blur which is more demanding than previously and we are now testing with the highest settings available, beyond Ultra.  GTA V has had multiple patches, and the Witcher 3 is on its sixth patch with a seventh patch pending.  We are careful to test our drivers using the same game patch versions.  We also test GameWorks features On versus Off in the Witcher 3 and also in Batman: Arkham Knight.

Let’s get right to the test configuration, to the driver release notes, and then to our results.