Introduction

Any piece of computer hardware is more or less useless without software drivers that allow it to work with the rest of the system. Anyone who has ever installed something like a webcam or some other obscure device knows that without the little disk or CD that comes with it, the device just won't work. Drivers for many devices are very easy to install and require little or no further tweaking, but not so with more complex hardware like graphics solutions.

A driver is code written to allow a piece of hardware such as a graphics card to be recognized and used by the system. For many computer peripherals, simply installing the driver is enough, but some parts require that the driver have an interface which allows users to tweak certain settings according to their needs. Both NVIDIA and ATI have unique driver interfaces, and it can be a bit confusing for those switching from one brand to the other with their graphics card upgrades. While both manufacturers have access to many of the same settings, finding a certain setting and navigating the interface can be more or less difficult with one than the other, depending partly on the experience of the user.

We've seen that in the past NVIDIA's ForceWare drivers have generally been better than ATI's Catalyst in the extent of their control over a wide range of graphical settings. However, ATI has been working to improve their drivers, and the Catalyst Control Center is an intuitive .NET based interface which is easy to use, and offers control over a wide range of settings as well. Naturally, users will have their own preferences, and while both have their positives and negatives, they each offer adequate control over most aspects of the drivers.

Initially, ATI's Catalyst Control Center suffered from some major performance problems which negatively affected usability despite the "new and improved" interface. Since its introduction, performance has gotten much better and the user interface refinements are better able to shine through without significantly annoying those who don't require the assistance of a real-time preview. It has taken a while for ATI's new UI to get to this point, and we are very interested in determining whether or not NVIDIA has learned from ATI's initially rocky attempt at completely redesigning their driver control panel.

For this article, we will be taking a look at the new 90 series video drivers from NVIDIA, specifically its user interface features and how they differ from the current version. The style has been changed significantly and looks to be more "Vista inspired" in its interface. This looks like it may cause problems for those used to NVIDIA's old style of navigation, but more on that later. For now, here is an overview of the 90 series Control Center by NVIDIA as well as screen shots and info on each of the menu sections and what settings are available under each.

Driver Menu
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  • DerekWilson - Friday, June 09, 2006 - link

    heh ... ironically, this is exactly the way their old control panel works -- embedded into the display properties -> settings -> advanced panel just like any other windows driver settings. Reply
  • drewintheav - Friday, June 09, 2006 - link

    From what I understand also... the new nTune and the new network and raid driver applets show up in this new nvidia control panel as well... Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Friday, June 09, 2006 - link

    It's there in the 91.27 drivers, but I don't recall exactly where ATM. I used it to fix the overscan on my HTPC connected to my Sony GWIV. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, June 09, 2006 - link

    I looked all over for it and couldn't find it (though that could just be due to the lousy new UI). I just ended up going back to the classic interface, where it's in the same place as always. Maybe it's hiding in a menu item somewhere... I guess I didn't thoroughly check out the menu options. That's a major oversight, though: hiding some options in menus while others are only in the main view panel doesn't make much sense. Reply
  • BikeDude - Friday, June 09, 2006 - link

    The user's locale is not determined by the current input locale. nVidia should use the GetUserDefaultUILanguage() function instead. (I have English Windows 2003 and a Norwegian keyboard and the driver UI shows up translated :( )

    See http://blogs.msdn.com/michkap/archive/2006/05/22/6...">http://blogs.msdn.com/michkap/archive/2006/05/22/6... for more.
    Reply
  • johnsonx - Friday, June 09, 2006 - link

    The way the new control panel is presented seems very Vista-esque to me. Me thinks this new control panel is the beginning of NVidia getting Vista-ready.
    Reply
  • johnsonx - Friday, June 09, 2006 - link

    quote:

    As it stands, the menus look Vista-like, but act a lot more like the current windows explorer.


    Ok, I guess if I had read the entire article, I would have seen the authors came to the same conclusion.
    Reply
  • BikeDude - Friday, June 09, 2006 - link

    Let me guess: The temperature readings cannot be read from Performance Monitor (part of Windows since NT 3.1)? Why re-invent the wheel?

    --
    Rune
    Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Friday, June 09, 2006 - link

    quote:

    the official 91.31 Beta release


    I found that amusing... an official beta release. :D
    Reply
  • Shazam - Saturday, June 10, 2006 - link

    I absolutely hate the nVidia CP, so this might be better. Mind you, it could be just as bad :) Reply

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