In the past, drivers have always been a major road block in the way of ATI's path to success. This was seen with the numerous driver problem associated with both the Rage128 and the Rage Furry MAXX cards. With this in mind, it is natural to wonder about the drivers shipping with the Radeon.
Fortunate in some respects and unfortunate in others, ATI was able to use the Rage128 drivers as the foundation for the Radeon's driver set. Although ATI argues that this puts them at an advantage because the drivers they are using for the Radeon have had about a year and a half to mature, the opposite argument can be made that they still have not gotten it right in all that time so it is best to start again.
What did we find? The Radeon's drivers may be better than those released with the original Rage128 and the Rage Furry MAXX, however they are far from the reliability and quality scale we have come to find in ATI's closest competitors.
The first instance of this was seen with ATI's install program, which essentially copies over 20 files to the Window's directory to get the card to function correctly. In comparison, NVIDIA's divers have always written a very small number of system files, making uninstallation painless.
Once the drivers were installed, we saw the typical set of ATI's VIVO programs, including ATI DVD and ATI Video. Some of the features of these programs have changed a bit from previous releases, but the changes are subtle, as shown below.
The driver screens are very similar to those of previous versions, with a few extra buttons added that take advantage of the Radeon's advanced features. This can be seen with the FSAA and texture compression buttons shown below.
On the FSAA note, the enable/disable button in the drivers enables 4x FSAA, the only FSAA mode that the Radeon supports, but more on that later.
As mentioned before, the Radeon's driver set still leaves much to be desired. Still present from the Rage128 days is the texture shimmering when in 16-bit color. In addition, the card still performs poorly at 16-bit color, once again a result of the poor driver sets. While this makes running in 32-bit color more attractive (as shown in the benchmark sections), it does limit the options one can play at.