If you follow gaming graphics cards you know that ATI and NVIDIA are getting ready for a fierce battle on March 26th when NVIDIA will be releasing their new GeForce GTX 480. The GeForce GTX 480 will be the first desktop consumer graphics card that is based off the long awaited GF100 ‘Fermi’ core, which means that NVIDIA will finally enter the DirectX 11 market for the very first time. Keep in mind that AMD’s ATI Radeon HD 5870 video card was launched on September 21, 2009! That means that NVIDIA is coming to the game over 6 months behind ATI! The ATI Radeon HD 5870 has proven itself to be a great graphics card over the past six months and thanks to monthly driver updates, it just keeps getting better.
Late yesterday we got word that ATI would be coming out with a CATALYST
10.3 preview update driver that would increase the performance of more than a dozen PC games and we don’t think it’s a coincidence that this driver just happens to come out the week before the GeForce GTX 480 graphics card is due to launch at PAX East on March 26th.
ATI Catalyst 10.3a Desktop Graphics Download Links:
ATI Catalyst 10.3a Notebook Graphics Download Links:
Check out what AMD’s marketing department said about these new drivers.
This ATI Catalyst™ driver update will unlock new performance improvements on top of the already previewed features in the initial Catalyst™ 10.3 Preview driver we sampled you in February. This driver will be available to download on March 17th from undgerground.amd.com and it will be called “Catalyst 10.3a Preview”. On March 24th we will post the official Catalyst™ 10.3 WHQL certified on amd.com. The difference between the two is that Catalyst™ 10.3a Preview will contain future Eyefinty 6 updates and an Alien vs. Predator optimization which the Catalyst™ 10.3 WHQL posting does not have.
This driver drop by AMD is clearly there to close the performance gap
between the two card series and with performance boosts up to 30%
claimed in CATALYST 10.3 drivers it should be an interesting battle. It also means that every single review site has to re-benchmark all the Radeon HD 5000 series graphics cards to get accurate numbers and with 13 cards on the market today that is bad news for us!
We’ve spent some time last night and this morning benchmarking the Radeon HD 5870 1GB GDDR5 video card using CATALYST 10.2 drivers and then again with CATALYST 10.3a drivers to see how the performance looks with this new driver build. We’ll also be re-benchmarking all our our Radeon HD 5000 series graphics cards as a result of these drastic changes.