AMD has been releasing new graphics drivers at a frantic pace lately, and it shows no signs of stopping. Today, the firm has served up Catalyst 11.12 WHQL and Catalyst 12.1 preview drivers simultaneously. The two releases should satisfy users with different degrees of adventurousness.
AMD's Catalyst 11.12 drivers are certified by Microsoft's Windows Hardware Quality Labs, and they can be considered the stable, production-ready release. They introduce OpenGL 4.2 support, the ability to set up three HD3D displays in an Eyefinity config, and tweaks to make controlling Dual Graphics setups easier via the control panel. You can grab 'em from the usual place on AMD's website. Note, however, that the driver doesn't include the optimizations of the 11.11c preview release. (That release added CrossFire scaling support for Radeon HD 5000-series cards in Skryim.)
If you want the latest and greatest, you'll need the Catalyst 12.1 preview driver—but don't take our word for it. AMD's driver roll-out announcement says in bold letters, "It is highly recommended that all gamers use the AMD Catalyst 12.1 Preview driver." The preview driver can be downloaded from this page on AMD's knowledge base website.
If I understand correctly, the 12.1 preview driver includes all of the enhancements from the 11.1c release, the 11.12 WHQL release, and some extra goodies on top of that. Those extra goodies include:
- Support for a 30-Hz refresh rate at 1080p using HD3D over HDMI 1.4 connections. (The previous limit at that resolution was 24 Hz.)
- A control panel feature for creating application-specific profiles, allowing users to set different 3D and CrossFireX settings for different Direct3D applications. (Finally; Nvidia has had a similar feature for years now.) AMD advises users to head to the Catalyst Control Center's preferences menu and select "restore factory defaults" before defining any app-specific profiles.
- Some user-interface enhancements that make it easier to adjust video quality and color settings in the control panel.
- ...and last, but not least, some good old-fashioned performance improvements. AMD touts a 10% performance increase in Skyrim for Radeon HD 6990-series graphics cards running the game with multisampled antialiasing enabled.
You'll find screenshots of the new control panel features in the image gallery below. The driver itself, as we said above, can be downloaded from the AMD knowledge base site.