As part of a regular feature for BabelTechReviews, this evaluation will compare the performance of 32 PC games using the Radeon 15.4 Beta Catalyst driver that we tested the R9 290X with two weeks ago, compared with the Beta 15.5 driver which was released for the Witcher 3 on Thursday.  We will also give GTX 980 results with its very latest WHQL Witcher drivers for a direct comparison.

witcher3 2015-05-22 12-25-11-92This 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, 2440×1600, and at 3840×2160 using 33 games. This driver mini-performance evaluation will give a natural comparison between the performance changes since AMD’s latest 15.5 beta driver set and the 15.4 beta driver that preceded it.

We are going to test the older Catalyst 15.4 Beta versus 15.5 Beta using our updated benchmark suite of 32 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, 2560×1440 and 1920×1080 at 60Hz; and we use DX11/10/10.1 whenever possible with a very strong emphasis on the latest DX11 games.  We no longer benchmark at 2560×1600, but now use the more popular 2560×1440 resolution beginning with this analysis.

Several games have had updates which changed the settings.  Shadows of Mordor has patched in FXAA and Camera + Object Blur which is more demanding than previously and we are now testing with the highest settings available.

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


  1. You have to turn NVIDIA HairWorks off on ANY Radeon cards LOL, cmon guys, this benchmark makes the 290X look like crap! It destroys the 980! Test with Hairworks off and see the FPS go UP UP UP! I have 2x 280X’s and hairworks off gave me +20-30 FPS gains!