AMD has been pushing PC gaming and the “Never Settle” slogan since 2011 and it appears that the company has no plans to end that going into 2013. AMD is serious about graphics performance and they should be as that is the companies strong point right now in the PC market place. The slogan makes sense though as most gamers, like you, never settle for less than the best. You want your hardware to play as hard as you do and that means it has to perform like you want it to. Today, AMD is making two big announcements. First, they are announcing some very impressive game bundles for those that are looking to buy a Radeon HD graphics card this fall and holiday shopping season. Secondly, they are announcing ‘The Never Settle Driver’ (Catalyst 12.11) that offers significant performance improvements in pretty much every game and benchmark available.
Years ago video cards came with games as part of the ‘bundle’ and gamers loved it. As time went on the game titles became older or included game titles that were not popular. Lately, most video cards don’t come with any game titles at all due to cost saving measures. AMD threw us a curve ball when they told us about the ‘Never Settle’ game bundle that they are launching to promote their AMD Radeon HD 7000 serires product line. If you purchase an AMD Radeon HD 7970 or 7950 graphics card you’ll get three game titles; Sleeping Dogs, Far Cry 3, and Hitman: Absolution. AMD didn’t call it quits there though and also includes a 20% off discount coupon for Medal of Honor: Warfighter! This is the nicest game bundle that we have seen included with a video card in years. For those that buy an AMD Radeon HD 7800 series card or the Radeon HD 7770 GHz edition card you’ll be getting Far Cry 3 and the 20% off discount coupon for Medal of Honor: Warfighter. Not a bad deal as it is basically around $60 in games and discounts.
AMD is also doing CrossFire game bundles, so if you buy two AMD Radeon HD 7800 or Radeon HD 7770 GHz edition cards at the same time you get Hitman: Absolution. This is another popular game title with an MSRP of $60, so a nice deal for those wanting a Crossfire setup. The bad news is if you already own a Radeon HD 7800 or Radeon HD 7770 Ghz edition card that you aren’t eligible for this promotion since both cards need to be purchased together to qualify. Some existing owners might be bummed out, but it’s a nice game bundle for those that have been waiting for a reason to buy.
The best part of this game bundle is that AMD is not raising the price of the AMD Radeon HD 7000 series graphics cards, so this is truly a free incentive to buy a new DirectX 11 desktop graphics card! But wait, there’s more!
AMD is also releasing the Catalyst 12.11 graphics card driver this week and this driver has some special sauce in it. AMD is calling this the NEVER SETTLE Driver. AMD introduced Graphics Core Next (GCN) based products in December 2011 with the introduction of the Radeon HD 7970 graphics card. Over the past 11 months AMD has been able to study the new GPU architecture and figure out what can be done to improve performance. AMD didn’t give us an exact list of changes that were made, but they informed Legit Reviews that they have made significant improvements to the memory cache and that the cores were being underutilized. AMD made some major changes in Catalyst 12.11 and boosts performance by up to 15% on many game titles like Battlefield 3, Dirt Showdown, Medal of Honor Warfighter, Sleeping Dogs, and more. AMD told us that they have not done a shader swap and that the image quality remains the same. With such major performance improvements we had to ask as we have seen all video card companies do some iffy stuff with drivers over the past decade.
Here is a slide that we were shown in a press presentation that shows the games in many popular game titles. Most of the gains range between 5-10%, but the game title Civilization 5 and the Unigine Heaven 3 benchmark have larger than 10% performance gains versus Catalyst 12.8 WHQL and 12.9 beta drivers.
We could just tell you about these performance gains and call it a day, but we had to test them out on our own! We used a Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 3GB Vapor-X graphics card and tested it with AMD Catalyst 12.9 beta drivers and then again with Catalyst 12.11. drivers. We will be comparing it to an ASUS GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP edition video card with GeForce 306.97 drivers. These are the two flagship single-GPU cards by both companies and are using the most recent drivers, so this should be interesting to see who comes out on top!