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Catalyst 15.8 Beta Performance Analysis – 290X & 390X vs. GTX 970 & 980

As part of a regular feature for BabelTechReviews, this driver analysis will look at the performance of 26 PC games using the latest Catalyst 15.8 Beta drivers which were released on August 30.  We will compare these drivers versus Catalyst 15.7.1 drivers using the MSI 390X OC, the reference 290X, and 290X CrossFire. We will also give the reference GTX 980 and the GALAX GTX 970 EXOC results using the very latest WHQL drivers GeForce 355.82 for another direct up-to-date comparison between these natural competitors, as well as GTX 980 Ti results versus 290X CrossFire.

DSCN0687We want to document the performance changes of this current Catalyst 15.8 beta driver on Windows 10.  Here we are going to give you the performance results of all of our cards at 1920×1080, 2560×1440, and at 3840×2160, using 26 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 driver set Catalyst 10.7.1 released at the end of July.

Our testing platform is Windows 10 64-bit Home Edition and we are 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.  

Several games have had major patches which have changed their settings since we tested 290X CrossFire last.  For example, Batman: Arkham Knight has received a major interim patch which introduced new settings and broke CrossFire.

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