Both the Options
screen and Monitor control screens have undergone a few
changes as well. The Option screen has a "Details"
button that allows access to detailed information about the
type of Radeon installed and it's drivers.
screen, on the other hand, offers an increased variety of
available settings depending on the type of monitor that is
connected to the video card.
We thought that we might run
a few tests to see how much of an improvement, if any,
the new drivers made on Direct3D performance. ATi
has mentioned that there have been some improvement in
benchmarks optimized for performance, particularly at
higher resolutions. So we thought we'd run a few
quick tests to see what advantages could be gained with
18.104.22.16894s versus the 22.214.171.12471s.
Why no OpenGL you ask? To date, the drivers
included in the Catalyst package have only implemented
changes to enhance Direct3D performance. This
isn't to say that our OpenGL friends have been left out
of the mix. ATi has made it clear in their
documentation that future updates are planned that would
help improve OpenGL performance as well. For now
though, we loaded up both 3DMark2001SE and Comanche4 and
let them ride at a couple of popular resolutions.
Before getting started, we went into both drivers and
optimized their settings for "performance" rather than
"quality" and were sure to disable v-sync.
The first bout
of tests we ran were with MadOnion's 3DMark2001SE at both
1024x768 and 1600x1200. We ran the benchmark with the
original drivers, then we ran them again with the updated
drivers included in the Catalyst software package.
At 1024x768 we
saw a gain of 179 points, an increase of just over 2%.
At 1600x1200, the difference was even greater, widening the
gap slightly to 182 points, an increase of 3.3%. We're
not talking about stellar gains here, but it certainly was a
Next we ran
NovaLogic's Comanche4, an excellent DirectX 8 benchmark that
makes a video card really work for it's FPS. Let's
take a look and see how the scores compared with the newer
we saw a greater improvement with the newer drivers when
compared to the earlier test. At 1024x768, the updated
drivers boosted performance just shy of 7%, while at
1600x1200 performance increased almost 2%. These are
only a few quick tests to show what gains can be expected
with the new drivers from ATi. The best part is that
with the new customizable settings in the drivers, users
should be able to hone a card's performance just they way
they like it.
We must admit, at first we had reservations as to how good
this new Catalyst software would be. However, after
taking a brief look at the changes that the Catalyst
software has implemented, we don't have the same doubts we
started with. ATi has produced what appears to be an
excellent update to their software and drivers package with
improved stability, features, and performance. We are
particularly interested in how well the SmartGart function
is going to perform over time. If it lives up to ATi's
claims, then there is going to be a major increase in the
amount of satisfied ATi customers.
expanding the capabilities of the Remote Wonder was an
excellent idea. we've been using it with our Radeon
All-In-Wonder 8500 for a while now and find it to be a
terrific add-on component to the Radeon 8500. Let us
be clear, though, you don't need a Radeon card to utilize
the Remote Wonder! You can pick one up for around $50
at the ATi website, a great idea for someone who needs to
give presentations on a regular basis.
When it comes
right down to it, the improved driver control panels and the
inclusion of the new SmartGart diagnostic utility are the
real winners here. Making the software easier to use
while increasing reliability and performance is where the
real benefits of the Catalyst software lie. The best
way for you to decide is to go and see for yourself what
ATi has done.