And it ain't pretty.
ATI is looking to change all of that, however. Last fall, at Comdex, we sat in a difficult meeting with ATI trying to hash out the problem, and they promised to do better with regular driver updates to fix problems and improve performance. Since then, ATI has released more-or-less regular driver updates that have, by most accounts, made life with a Radeon 8500 card much more livable.
Still, it can't be easy to live under the shadow of NVIDIA's hyper-optimized Detonator drivers, which have as much to do with NVIDIA's market-leading performance as any bit of GeForce silicon. ATI's own driver development efforts are substantial, and today ATI is introducing a new brand name, CATALYST, to go toe-to-toe with NVIDIA's Detonators.
Branding announcements aren't exactly earth-shattering news around here, but this is a good excuse to take a look at how ATI's driver efforts are progressing. And heck, if I didn't know better, I'd think NVIDIA's latest Detonator driver release, just this week, was an attempt to rain on ATI's parade. So here's the deal: we've got three different generations of ATI drivers, including the brand-new CATALYST 7.71 revision, to test on a Radeon 8500LE 128MB. For comparison's sake, we'll test VisionTek's GeForce4 Ti 4200 128MB card with NVIDIA's new Detonators, and see how the ATI-NVIDIA matchup is progressing.
Also, we'll try out some nifty new performance tuning options in ATI's drivers and see what they can do for us.
ATI's new ALL CAPS wonder: CATALYST
So what is this CATALYST thing? Well, basically, ATI is slapping a name on a whole suite of support software it provides for its GPUs and graphics cards. The basic elements of CATALYST are:
But the drivers have received some intriguing updates with this new 7.71 release. Let's test the drivers.
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