Review Index:

AMD Never Settle 12.11 Beta Driver Performance Testing

Author: Ryan Shrout
Manufacturer: AMD

Unigine Heaven v2.5

Heaven Benchmark (DirectX 11)


Heaven Benchmark is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on advanced Unigine™ engine from Unigine Corp. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. Interactive mode provides emerging experience of exploring the intricate world of steampunk.

  • Support of DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.0
  • Comprehensive use of tessellation technology
  • Advanced SSAO (screen-space ambient occlusion)
  • Volumetric cumulonimbus clouds generated by a physically accurate algorithm
  • Simulation of changing light conditions
  • Dynamic sky with light scattering
  • Interactive experience with fly/walk-through modes
  • Stereo 3D modes:
    • Anaglyph
    • Separate images
    • 3D Vision
    • iZ3

Unigine Heaven Test Settings

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The 12.11 driver sees pretty close to zero gains over the 12.9 beta release with the Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition.

October 22, 2012 | 04:51 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

What AMD needs to do is to build driver installation and upgrades that actually work without being an absolute nightmare.

For instance, you can only install using a local account actually named ADMINISTRATOR. You can't install with a domain administrator account or an account with full administrator privilege because AMD actually looks for "Administrator" rather than testing to see if the account has sufficient privelige -- and it doesn't stop if you aren't "administrator" and so parts of the install FAIL ... and it tells you that there were "ERRORS" and refers you to the log and in the log ... there is nothing to tell you what actually went wrong.

The first install with new AMD hardware and new AMD drivers isn't too bad IF you use the "ADMINISTRATOR" named account. I routinely rename all the ADMINISTRATOR accounts in my domain and disable the LOCAL ADMINISTRATOR account. I usually create minimal privilege Local and DOMAIN accounts named ADMINISTRATOR with scripts that set off warnings if anyone attempts/gains access to these accounts. Great security but absolutely horrendous if you want to install AMD drivers.

If you are the default "Owner" account with full administrative privilege on your own home PC you can't install the drivers successfully ... you have to get to the the, often hidden, ADMINISTRATOR account and use it for the install.

TO UPGRADE ... you must completely remove the old drivers/catalyst (a difficult to impossible task hence the need to purchase a third party piece of software to simply remove the old drivers/catalyst). The uninstall won't successfully uninstall if the drivers are in use hence you must downgrade to 640x480 VGA, reboot, then try to Uninstall and it still likely fails. After spending hours/many reboots repeatedly getting rid of the old software, likely, you will still need to call AMD and get them to tell you to delete certain in obscure directories holding DOT.NET compiled binaries (that aren't removed by the uninstall). Worse, the install does not "sniff" to see if you have the DOT.NET components installed and blindly installs over the top which completely corrupts the entire DOT.NET (All versions) and then you may have to completely remove all of your DOT.NET (2.0, 2.0, 2.5, 4.0) requires a reboot between each uninstall and then re-install them in order ... again with lots of reboots and at least a half dozen reboots as Microsoft Updates to each are applied before you can even get to the point where you may attempt to install the drivers again. Last time I upgraded it took about 12 hours to accomplish the uninstall-reinstall and I still needed AMD support to help with getting rid of a couple files before I got the new drivers/catalyst working.

Why would anyone want to buy hardware that imposes this much headache to merely update the drivers???

If they fixed the drivers to be as painless to install/update/remove as nVidia ... they could succeed in selling the hardware (which works great once you go through the long and painful trip to get the drivers installed!!!

Who cares about how great the hardware is if the software is an absolute nightmare.

October 22, 2012 | 10:38 AM - Posted by Farquhar (not verified)


I've been using AMD/ATI since the 9700 Pro and I have no idea what you are talking about. Granted the initial 12.x drivers sucked (at least for me), I never had any trouble installing them.

October 22, 2012 | 11:32 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

hmm, been using AMD on and off for the last 12 years, and never experienced the problems you are talking about. Perhaps something to do with your pc using skills?

October 22, 2012 | 12:34 PM - Posted by JSL

Obvious Troll is Obvious.

I've personally deployed Catalyst installs/driver updates remotely (not mstsc, or 3rd party remote management) and including integrating it into Windows Server Update Services to push out to computers controlled by ADDS. Never once have I experienced the same garbage you're spouting.

The .Net packages included with some of the beta driver packages are the same redistributables that are both installed via windows update/available in Microsoft's download center.

Your desktop environment must have been royally pooched (by yourself), you dont know anything about group policy, your computer skills are excessively poor (similar to your grammatical skills), or all of the above.

Please; tell us more about your failures.

October 24, 2012 | 10:06 PM - Posted by FxAlpha (not verified)

My system does not even have account named Administrator. And any privileged user can be used to install any AMD drivers including non-WHQL. There are minor problems time to time, but someone who is not able to solve them had no business touching beta drivers. Definitely non problematic compared to PhysX drivers where newer driver may cripple support for older games. Or situations where it gets impossible to reinstall faulty libraries. Or installers missing buttons/text (overridden by /silent parameter fix). And so on, no one is perfect, but trolling is trolling.

November 5, 2012 | 02:59 PM - Posted by Activate: AMD (not verified)

1) My account is not named "administrator", I use the default owner account for all upgrades and have never, ever, had an installation fail for these issues.
2)It is best practice to uninstall drivers. I used to use a 3rd party driver cleaner, but stopped when I lost the license key. In 3-4 years since then, I have uninstalled or not uninstalled before upgrading with both AMD and nV, and have only had a problem once... with the nVidia drivers.
3).Net has survived every driver install i've had with no issues.

Bottom line: upgrading my ATI/AMD drivers usually takes 10 minutes and 1 reboot. They are no more difficult to install than nV's, and in my experience over the last 10 years, I've actually had more frustrating issues with nV than ATI/AMD.

As background, I've owned plenty of ATI/AMD's (9600XT, 9700Pro, x800xt, x1900xtx, 4870/CFX, 7970) and nVidia's (TNT2,7800, 7900, GTS250, GTX460/SLI)

October 22, 2012 | 06:33 AM - Posted by lima (not verified)

I don't know about this Administrator thing, but I never had problems with upgrades. Run new Catalyst, upgrade and everything works.

October 22, 2012 | 08:14 AM - Posted by Angry

Never had the admin issue, never heard of it either.
And my account name def isnt administrator.

October 22, 2012 | 08:25 AM - Posted by Angry

Also, me nore any of my friends have had issues upgrading or swapping drivers.

And we have the last 4 generations of card covered between all of us

October 22, 2012 | 09:26 AM - Posted by Mnemonicman

No problems installing the drivers except for the odd time I forget to install .Net. Drivers would still work but no CCC. Easily fixed. Would like to know how the 7970 does with the 12.11s.

October 22, 2012 | 09:45 AM - Posted by Lord Binky (not verified)

They apparently took a cattleprod to their driver group. I wonder what differences in manpower they have between hardware development and software development(ie:drivers).

October 22, 2012 | 01:59 PM - Posted by b3 player (not verified)

ryan, thanks for the heads up on the drivers . wood you recomend the 6600 ti 7950 for a b3 gamer . thakns . tom

October 22, 2012 | 05:01 PM - Posted by gordonk (not verified)

dude, if you need administrator approval to install anything then you must be using your parents computer.

I have never had any sort of issue. Buy a 3rd party driver??

Every heard of driver sweeper? ccleaner? both of those do a great job deleting old files not needed and both create a backup if desires of your registry in case you are stupid and mess it you must have done.

It sounds like you deleted some keys in the registry you shouldn't have because you learned on the internet that you can type regedit in the comand line and then started deleting files you had no clue as to what they were.

I have only owned ati cards and the only time I get hateful is if it has been months since an update. Graphics drivers can only do so much..alot also has to do with the game coding, your motherboard, cpu, memory and sound drivers.

Uninstalling drivers is pretty damn easy. Uninstall, restart, run ccleaner or driver sweeper..reboot, install new drivers, then reboot again. Not a 12 hour process.

October 22, 2012 | 09:28 PM - Posted by tbone (not verified)

with the freaking awesome AAA gaming bundle, it should be a no brainer

a 7950 for $280 and $170 in games

October 24, 2012 | 03:56 AM - Posted by ThorAxe

I noticed that Nvidia has released the 310.33 beta which purports to increase performance by up to 15%.

Check out for details.

October 25, 2012 | 04:27 PM - Posted by aparsh335i (not verified)

We wantz 7970/7950 updates! :)

October 26, 2012 | 02:34 AM - Posted by dudz_fryd (not verified)

Lots of piling on here guys. I mean it's great that none of you have had anything but flowers and sunny skies with ATI/AMD drivers but the assertion that AMD/ATI drivers are perfect is just false.

I've had my own issues with them albeit not to the extent described in the first post.

The driver update process is also ridiculously long for ATI drivers compared to Nvidia. Does it really need to take 10 minutes just for a driver upgrade?

I know from my own experience that weird stuff can happen and that's the stuff they need to know about especially if it's repeatable.

People are too quick to dismiss opinions that differ with their own these days. As they say, "Your mileage may vary"

October 26, 2012 | 05:06 AM - Posted by Tom Yum (not verified)

Interesting, I looked through all the posts and didn't see a single person say AMD drivers were perfect. What I did see was a lot of people respond to the first post who may or may not have significant issues with AMD drivers, but rather than say 'I've had these issues with AMD drivers' instead said 'AMD drivers need you to do this, this and this', which is quite different.

For instance, I've never had your experience of AMD drivers take 10 minutes to install, but I'm happy to accept that you have had that happen. You seem pretty happy to acknowledge that other people may have different experiences, but the first poster clearly isn't, and I think the responses after that were more to show that his assertions that his issues were a definitive consequence of AMD drivers were false.

November 13, 2012 | 12:02 PM - Posted by ho1mes (not verified)

I was on the fence for several months about what card to get this round. I was rocking a GT 220 for the last year and was in need of a serious upgrade. My first choice was the GTX 660, but the price was a little high. The recent price drops, game bundle, and improved drivers of the radeon 7850 were enough to clinch the deal. So far, not regrets. I love this card.

November 27, 2012 | 05:39 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Absolutely. Never had any problem with drivers, and the 7850 has been a stellar performer for me on Witcher 1 & 2, Battlefield 2 & 3, Metro, and Guild Wars 2. LOW power consumption, good performance, small card, great price. Caught the Sapphire for $189.

November 17, 2012 | 09:56 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Agreed AMD drivers have not been the easiest to install. However under Linux they work properly with a simple sudo prefix, as all installs should.

Having one big driver package covering a great many boards with one installer is the correct approach and has been an advantage of AMD for many years.

By contrast the many little constantly changing file names, arrogant and deliberate incompatibility with Linux, and other irritants, turned me off nVidia long ago. Linus Torvalds saw fit to condemn nVidia in public. That about says it all.

Consider also price/performance of AMD processors and the likelihood of better portability and power performance with ARM cores included - AMD itself is creating a 64-bit ARM core which will certainly end up on desktop and other chips along with x86 - an all-AMD solution is going to be more supported long run than intel. Which still makes 32 bit stuff, and which has its own graphics problems.

nVidia and intel are likely to ally eventually to combat this threat and that means (given how both companies behave) more weird issues and failures to cooperate than ever. I'd stick with all-AMD to be sure that no corporate war breaks out on my motherboard.

May 4, 2014 | 06:56 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Hi i have problem with the game every time i try to open it say that you are not privileged to play this game any solution for this. plz let know if there is any solution for this.

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