As part of a regular feature for BabelTechReviews, this evaluation will compare the performance of 33 PC games using the Radeon WHQL Omega driver that we tested the R9 290X with when the TITAN X was launched, compared with the Beta 15.4 driver which was released for GTA V and also encompassed by Beta 15.4.1, released May 8, which fixed some issues with FreeSync.

pCARS64 2015-05-09 20-46-55-67This driver performance analysis only features AMD’s top single-GPU flagship Radeon R9 290X although we plan to regularly test lesser cards also for upcoming evaluations.  We want to at least document the performance changes of this beta driver set even though we are only testing one video card.  We are going to give you the performance results of the R9 290X at 1920×1080, 2560×1600, and at 3840×2160 using 33 games. This driver mini-performance evaluation will give a natural comparison between the performance changes since AMD’s last WHQL driver set and the very latest beta driver.

We are going to test the older Catalyst WHQL Omega versus 15.4.1 Beta using our current benchmark suite of 33 games plus 2 synthetic benchmarks. Our testing platform is Windows 8.1 64-bit, using an Intel Core i7-4790K at 4.00GHz which turbos to 4.4GHz for all cores, an ASUS Z97E motherboard, and 16GB of Kingston “Beast” HyperX RAM at 2133MHz. The settings and hardware are identical except for the drivers being tested.

At R9 280X and above, we test at higher settings and at higher resolutions generally than we test midrange and lower-end cards.  All of our games are now tested at three resolutions: 3840×2160, 2560×1600 and 1920×1080 at 60Hz; and we use DX11/10/10.1 whenever possible with a very strong emphasis on the latest DX11 games.

Several games have had updates which have changed our settings.  It appears that Far Cry 4 and Assassin’s Creed: Unity have recently patched in more demanding settings and we retested them with the older drivers for a more fair comparison.  We even looked at 290X performance in GTA V, Wolfenstein: The New Blood, & Project Cars, although we did not test them with the older Omega drivers.  We will also give you a comparison between the GTX 980 using its latest drivers versus the R9 290X using its latest driver.

Let’s get right to the test configuration, the driver release notes, and then to the results.