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 - Saturday, October 18, 2003 - link

    BFG Asylum nVidia FX 5950 Ultra 256MB

    Grab it @
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 14, 2003 - link

    From a technical / technological aspect I find the Overdrive technology very interesting.

    I equate it to my background in automobile tuning. Carburated engines had a set timing. You set that timing sso the car would not knock and ping. Electronically controlled fuel injection allowed using different timing / fueling at different load point to extract the most from the engine. Same engine could maybe get 10% more power. Now you see very detailed EFI, where the engine computer advances and retards timing dynamically depending on octane, load and many other inputs, always giving near maximum possible output.

    I see this as the beginning of the same trend in graphics cards. It makes sense.
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 14, 2003 - link

    This review was done with stock cooling. Those cards get hot real fast.

    Since Overdrive stops overclocking when it gets too hot, I would have like to see some form of ultra cooling on some cards like (at least) water-cooling.

    The way I see it, Overdrive it pointless.

  • Anonymous User - Sunday, October 12, 2003 - link

    ahaha @ 57
  • Anonymous User - Sunday, October 12, 2003 - link

    How long before we can buy a XT watercooled out of the box? I think that's the question remaining now.
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, October 11, 2003 - link

    cause your an idiot
  • Anonymous User - Friday, October 10, 2003 - link

    why i cannot run halo i have a radeon 9000
  • Anonymous User - Friday, October 10, 2003 - link

    52 - That is exactly what Anand did. They ran a benchmark - recorded the results - then ran another benchmark, and so on. That sounds like they did let it cool every 10 minutes or so. Unlike a real user.

    50 is partially right. The bus speed improvement when OC is enabled would give much better indication of what the XT is doing over some statistically ambivalent fps count.
  • Anonymous User - Friday, October 10, 2003 - link

    The HL2 stolen code setback seems to be perfect timing. Nivida has to be loving it, the bastards!

    The only good Dx9 game that should have been out with the Radeon XT would have put a nail in Nvidia.

    Now Nvidia has breathing room. Lets see if they squander it.

    Right now the clear winner for Dx9 is the ATI XT. That is if you are comparing the XT to the 5900 and not some vapour hardware.

    You made the charts, take a look at them. ATI is clearly better at DX9 PS2.0. All the new DX9 games are not going to run better on Nvidia. The benchmarks for HL2 were already shown.

    I don't see why you can't recommend a card at this time?

    If you had 10,000 to bet which card would you pick to be the best dx9 card? If you bet on Nvidia your gonna be 10,000 poorer.

  • Anonymous User - Friday, October 10, 2003 - link

    I agree, its much better than the last review. Thanks for the Fps in Tomraider.

    Do you know what the cap is for the XTs auto overclocking?

    Wonder what it would do if you put water cooling on the ATI?

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