Catalyst 12.1, 12.2 preview drivers arrive

Once again, AMD has laid out a smorgasbord of driver releases for Radeon owners to browse this month. You've got your main course—the new Catalyst 12.1 driver, which is WHQL-certified—as well as a couple of hors d'oeurves: the Catalyst 12.2 preview release, which came out today alongside the 12.1 driver, and the 8.921.2 RC11 driver, which became available last week.

Which driver should you use? As Denise Richards would say, it's complicated.

The 12.1 release includes all of the improvements of the 12.1 and 12.1a preview drivers, except it has passed through Microsoft's qualification labs and should, in theory, not set your computer on fire. New features include support for HD3D on CrossFireX configs, support for 1080p stereo 3D at 30Hz over HDMI 1.4, the ability to set per-application profiles in the Catalyst Control Center, and tweaks to video image quality control panes. We covered all of those additions in detail last month, when the 12.1 preview driver hit the web.

As its name suggests, the 12.2 preview release lacks WHQL certification, so use it at your own risk. The 12.2 preview includes of all of the enhancements of the 12.1 driver, plus some new ones. In AMD's words:

  • AMD Eyefinity 2.1 technology enhancements
  • Additional resolution support: Users can now choose from a larger set of resolutions when running AMD Eyefinity
  • Dynamic Configuration Changes: Switching between different display configurations will occur automatically when physically plugging/un-plugging displays
  • HydraVision™ enhancements: The Windows Task bar can now be moved and resized based on users preference
  • Profile Manager improvements: Increased support for Display Groups (including 5x1) and Extended configurations within the Profile Manager

If you're running one of the new Radeon HD 7970 graphics cards, you shouldn't install the 12.2 preview driver. AMD says it's not supported. Instead, you'll want to grab the "8.921.2 RC11 AMD Radeon™ HD 7900 driver." We wrote about that release in detail last week; all you need to know is that it's meant to improve how Radeon HD 7900-series cards perform in a number of games (compared to whatever older release the GPU vendors put on their driver CDs, presumably).

So, there you have it. Clear as crystal—assuming you broke the crystal into three pieces and carved the pieces into weird, abstract shapes. The 12.1 WHQL Catalysts are available here here, the 12.2 preview is up here, and the Radeon HD 7900 driver with the funky name can be downloaded here.

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