There have been lots of questions about why we chose to do our Part 2 article using the 3.7 Cats from ATI rather than waiting until today to use the brand new 3.8 version of the drivers. Our reasoning behind this decision was two fold: we wanted to get yesterday's article out as a timely follow-up to last weeks Part 1 of the series, and we also wanted to do a comparison between the 3.7 Cats and the new drivers.

With the Radeon XT series, ATI introduced a new feature called OverDrive. The basic principle of OverDrive is that the GPU can run at higher clock speeds if it is running cool enough, so as long as the chip is cool enough it will safely overclock. ATI’s OverDrive technology uses a combination of a hardware thermal diode and software support to keep track of the temperature of the GPU. If the temperature is within certain predefined limits, the drivers will increase the GPU clock speed by a safe margin defined by ATI. Once the GPU heats up again to the point where ATI can’t guarantee no degradation of chip-life, the drivers will underclock the GPU to as low as its original clock speed (but never lower). The Catalyst 3.8 drivers enable support for the thermal diode present on the Radeon 9800XT and the Radeon 9600XT; note that none of the previous Radeon cards have the thermal diode and thus will not support OverDrive.

The whole idea that a reputable company would be building any kind of overclockability into their product has really intrigued us. We had lots of questions like: how much will performance improve, and will stability be an issue. How much can we really get for nothing? Well, the answers may surprise, but even if they don't, there are some very interesting implications from the way things have played out. But before we get to that, we are going to take a look at the new interface, and then go through all the games in the list one more time.

This time for our testing, we will only be doing 1600x1200 with AA/AF on and off for games that have the option. All of our graphs will use the data we collected for Part 2 and compare it to what we found after we received our drivers from ATI yesterday. It’s been a long night, but it was well worth it.

We used the same benchmarks on the same FX51 system as in Part 2. Let’s let the show begin...

Catalyst 3.8 Drivers
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  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 08, 2003 - link

    #31 was a reply to # 28. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 08, 2003 - link

    are you telling me that your going to play HL2 , in DX8 at 640x800 on your Fx ? to get decent framerates ?


    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 08, 2003 - link

    Nice of you to warn us ahead of time #8.
    It does take one to know one.
    So in your esteemed opinion, what are all the current GF FX card owners to do?
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 08, 2003 - link

    i am a little disappointed with the overdrive feature as well...i was all exicted too about the possibilities...and certainly expecting more than just a 1.5fps difference :(

    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 08, 2003 - link

    #26 said: ""TombRaider AOD , the only DX9 game benchmarked is 3 1/2 times faster than Nvidia.
    ATI 42 fps , Nvidia 12 fps.

    WoooW.
    Imagine HL2.""

    Do0d, TRAOD has nothing to do with HL2. Also, NV is playable at lower resolutions than 16x12. And any card will fly with PS2.0 off...
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 08, 2003 - link

    ...I'm honestly struggling to work out why CM hyped these up as the best Catalysts ever. We knew these weren't going to be performance drivers, but the new features are gimmicky (overdrive/smartshader) or not as good as they should be (game profiles, but you have to manually switch them, bah!). Oh well, some bug fixes are at least nice.

    A somewhat disappointed 9800 Pro'er.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 08, 2003 - link

    TombRaider AOD , the only DX9 game benchmarked is 3 1/2 times faster than Nvidia.
    ATI 42 fps , Nvidia 12 fps.

    WoooW.
    Imagine HL2.

    I'm impressed, If Cat 3.8 bring more stability, that should be good enough for ATI owners.

    a Gforce2 mx owner.
    Reply
  • AgaBooga - Wednesday, October 08, 2003 - link

    #24, ATI would have had to implement special temperature measuring devices. I wonder how the bios flashing will respond to this... Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 08, 2003 - link

    sucks like 0.1% of gamers or market have the 9800TX why not do it with 9700pro or 9800pro


    just a though ...............




    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 08, 2003 - link

    #20,

    You got your roman numerals backwards.
    VIII is 8
    IX is 9
    X is 10
    XI is 11
    XII is 12
    XIII is 13
    XIV is 14 and so on
    Reply

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