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  • Schugy - Thursday, May 11, 2006 - link

    nVIDIA has done quite a good job with linux drivers. It's simple to run this script and start your favourite game afterwards. nVIDIA's reward will be that I`ll buy a GF7800GT for AGP when it comes out. I wonder why the last anandtech linux story is more than 10 months old. Reply
  • KickusAssius - Sunday, May 14, 2006 - link

    I have owned the 9000, 9500 PRO and 9700 PRO and I just hate ATI's drivers. I had problems with at least half of the games I played. Gradually they fixed certain problems, but other problems were never resolved even after contacting ATI directly via email and I was not the only one.

    Prior to this, I owned a Geforce 256 and Geforce 4 MX and Nvidia's drivers were nothing spectacular, but they always worked.

    Now, I have owned the 6800GT, and the 7800GTX and the drivers have been excellent for a long time now. The only problems I ever had were in CSS, but Nvidia fixed that problem relatively quickly. Also, I have never had a system crash as a result of Nvidia drivers, but several times this happened with my 9700 PRO, (still loved the card though especially when drivers got better). I think that now both sides have excellent drivers, though ATI's control panel is simply annoying.
  • johnsonx - Thursday, May 11, 2006 - link

    The image for Doom3 with the 60.72 driver can't be right; in the text you say there are major rendering issues with th 60.72 driver, but both images (normal and 'moused-over') look fine to me; the image presented as the 60.72 image looks identical to the 61.76 image presented below it.

  • ozzimark - Thursday, May 11, 2006 - link

    the pictures are too small for me to really even see anything Reply
  • johnsonx - Thursday, May 11, 2006 - link

    oh, nevermind, i see it now Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, May 11, 2006 - link

    The rendering error isn't "major" -- that's why we kept the 60.72 results in the graph. You could certainly play the game with the 60.72 drivers and never realized there was a "problem". For anyone else trying to find the anomaly, look for the vertical lines right in the center of the screenshot. Reply
  • synque - Thursday, May 11, 2006 - link

    I think the conclusion the article draws is completely meaningless. Nothing can be said about NVIDIA because they either failed to improve the drivers, or the drivers were close to "optimal" from the start.

    One could speculate that the ATI drivers weren't optimal because they could be improved. But even that'd be guessing, because the driver team most likely optimizes for popular games after they are released (which could lead to special optimizations).

    So I know exactly as much as I knew before reading the article. Weird.
  • z3R0C00L - Thursday, May 11, 2006 - link

    Umm not true,

    You forget that the x8x0 line are essentially built on an improved R300 design. They're not an all new part. This means ATi have gradually worked to improve there drivers. They were optimal to begin with since they're essentially the same driver SDK that reaches to the time of the 9700 Pro.

    I have a feeling that if a 9800 Pro were tested you'd see the same improvements in non video card bottlenecked situations.

    This proves that the Catalyst driver team is superior to the Forceware driver team. But most of us have known this since Catalyst 3.0. Heck even Microsoft has stated this as well as 3rd party driver analysts. ATi's card have less issues then nVIDIA cards and carry with them less issues not fixed from previous releases. There's a simple way of checking this.. read the Driver Release notes from both ATi and nVIDIA.. you'll notice FAR more unresolved issues with nVIDIA drivers then ATi drivers. Many of them major issues.

    One thing nVIDIA is better at, and this is a fact, is supporting older hardware (GeForce2,3,4). ATi's 8500 support is lackluster at best. I can't remember the last time a driver release focused on fixing issues that still exist since Catalyst 3.0 on the 8500 series.
  • Redofrac - Thursday, May 11, 2006 - link

    Since Catalyst 3.0? I'm going to have to disagree with that.
    From firsthand experience owning a 9700 Pro with the earlier catalysts, I have to say that they were crap. Having to try multiple releases of the driver to find one that was actually stable isn't quite what I'd use for the mark of a good driver team. Every once in a while they'd manage to get out a stable release, and I'd stick with that one until the next, lest random games start crashing on me or glitching.

    I can't speak for ATI's current drivers, which I'll assume are much better (dealing with drivers for a 9700 somewhat turned me away from ATI) but I find it a bit hard to say that 3.0 drivers were stable with a straight face.
  • LoneWolf15 - Friday, May 12, 2006 - link

    And I owned a Radeon 9700(non-pro) and had no problems at all; in fact, I'd daresay it's the best card I've ever owned in terms of performance/stability/longevity. But, one experience does not equal all.

    I'm not debating your experience, but what if you had a borderline power supply at the time, for example? That could easily cause some issues.

    Neither of us is a representative example of how the Radeon 95xx/97xx cards worked by ourselves. By and large though, the enthusiast community had very few issues with this series of cards.
  • z3R0C00L - Thursday, May 11, 2006 - link

    Forgot to mention another fact..

    nVIDIA releases BETA drivers on a regular basis (usually not too stable and still plagued with issues that may fix a few issues in certain games but break others.. of course they're BETA).

    ATi release WHQL drivers each month. A new set is release on a monthly basis, usually with MANY bug fixes. ATi is better at fixing issues quicker then nVIDIA. nVIDIA releases a WHQL'd driver once every soo often (like 4 times a year.. maybe up to 6 if lucky).

    This means most nVIDIA users run BETA, non tested drivers. You're the guinea pigs. ATi at least rigourously test each release and even have a 3rd party corporation (Microsoft) test them and certify them. This is a commitment to the utmost quality in drivers.
    So those who complain of ATi driver's are quite honestly liars (they probably own competitor cards and suffer from a disease known as fanboyism).

    These are FACTS. Call me a fanboy for posting FACTS.. it's ok.. Anandtech knows it's true, as do HardOCP, Tom's Hardware, Elitebastards and Beyond 3D.

    Before I leave I want to post another FACT. nVIDIA's OpenGL drivers remain top dog. This is NOT because they code the drivers better. It's because nVIDIA own more OpenGL extension patents that are more widely used by OpenGL game dev's. Most Dev's use nVIDIA OpenGL paths then ATi paths. Forcing ATi to either use a path optimised for nVIDIA cards or a generic path. This is partly ATi's fault for not creating there own path and pushing dev's to use them.

    There... the FACTS. ;)
  • gamara - Wednesday, May 17, 2006 - link

    There are always fewer bugs to fix in less buggy code. If ATI got it right the first time in more cases, maybe their bug fix total wouldn't be as high. I have to agree with another poster on having several issues with ATI drivers in some games and not having anywhere near the same number of issues with beta drivers from nVidia. I had more issues with drivers on a single ATI card than on my Riva TNT, GeForce2, GeForce4, FX5600 Ultra, 6600GT, and 7800GTX combined. Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, May 11, 2006 - link


    nVIDIA releases a WHQL'd driver once every soo often (like 4 times a year.. maybe up to 6 if lucky).

    You have the right idea, but the wrong terminology. In the past, Nvidia has only released around 4 official drivers a year, compared to ATI's 12(though recently have since then been releasing more often). However, they submit many more drivers for WHQL certification than those 4 drivers; usually any "beta" drivers they officially release are already WHQL certified. Unlike ATI there are non-certified drivers out there too since Nvidia shares its drivers more freely with its OEM partners than ATI, and hence you'll see a leak now and then, but for the most part Nvidia drivers are WHQL certified. In fact for this article, I reference the following:

    However given the simply enormous number of such drivers, we used only Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL) certified drivers, which means these are drivers NVIDIA was confident enough to release in a final form and submit to testing to Microsoft.
  • Wesleyrpg - Thursday, May 11, 2006 - link

    hey there,

    you guys mention FFXI tests on page 3, but theres no results on any of the pages? whats up with that?
  • Wesleyrpg - Thursday, May 11, 2006 - link

    whoops....its under console ports Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, May 11, 2006 - link

    Sorry about that, it's been made clearer now. Karen is on vacation, and it's more or less the worst kept secret in the world that we're terrible bachelors when it comes to writing. Reply
  • etriky - Thursday, May 11, 2006 - link

    The reason ATI has been able to get large increases in their drivers is their first ones are terrible. I'll be the first to admit they make very good hardware. But their control panel is annoyingly bloated and driver stability is terrible. My hat's off to people that will put up with their software. Reply
  • Griswold - Thursday, May 11, 2006 - link

    The usual humbug. The only thing I can agree with is that CCC is unwanted bloatware. Besides that, ATIs drivers are excellent and that is coming from a current nvidia user (though I still have an old box with my trusty 9700 pro and I've enjoyed catalysts ever since I bought this card a few months after its launch). Reply
  • Spoonbender - Thursday, May 11, 2006 - link

    Currently they are, yes. But some years back, they sucked.

    I think the article neglects to mention the possibilty that maybe NVidia's drivers were just better optimized to begin with? If that's the case, ATI has "merely" been catching up.

    I don't even find it unlikely. Today, both ATI and NVidia has great drivers (although some find the ATI control panel a bit bloated, but that's hardly a *driver* issue)
    But, say, 5 years ago, ATI just couldn't make drivers, while NVidia were about as good as they are today. So ATI has obviously been catching up, and obviously, the scores in this article reflect that. ATI has just had more room for optimizing because they started at a disadvantage.

    So I'm not sure I agree with the article that "ATI is the victor for getting the most out of its drivers." That's only true if we assume they were even when they started out.

    However, one final thought. It's pretty clear that if you want an accurate picture of performance, you should wait at least two driver revisions from launch. Seems to more or less stabilize after that. So is there any chance, with future hardware releases, that you're going to revisit them after, say, two driver updates? Would be interesting to say the least.
  • Griswold - Friday, May 12, 2006 - link

    I was talking about a few years back. I didnt buy that 9700 last year. I bought it at the end of 2002. It was launched in august 2002. And I've never had any issues with ATIs drivers with that card to this very day. YMMV but you wont hear me say "they suck" for an obivious reason. Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Thursday, May 11, 2006 - link

    Currently they are, yes. But some years back, they sucked.

    That's true. However, "some years back" is around the time of the Radeon 8500, far before the 9xxx line or the X800 line. This issue is no longer relevant, and yet people who haven't used ATI cards in years flog this dead horse over and over again.

    ATI isn't perfect; their multimedia cards (i.e. TV tuners) still need work in the software department. However, it's been a long time since ATI has had serious driver issues, and many who haven't had an ATI card since Rage128/Radeon/Radeon 8500 days talk as if things haven't changed.
  • Powermoloch - Thursday, May 11, 2006 - link

    I've been using Ati's drivers for quite sometime, and I noticed a gradual increase of performance from my experience. Especially on the 3dmark scores lol.
  • MrKaz - Thursday, May 11, 2006 - link

    What’s the problem with Control Panel?

    I like it a lot. Ati drop it in 5.11, I keep it installed with driver 6.4 and have no problems.
  • poohbear - Thursday, May 11, 2006 - link

    have u even owned an ATI card? i'm currently running a 6800gt, but my experience w/ the 9800pro was great and i dont know what u're talking about w/ your driver instability comment. maybe u should read the article again, it praises ati's driver team quite a bit. Reply

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