ATI Catalyst 7.1 for Vista - Software improvement and Crossfire!
Saving all for the last minute?
Windows Vista has been out in the wild for a long time now and it's about to be officially released. Beta testers have had copies in form of RC1 and RC2 for some time now and others may even be using fully fledged business versions which were released in November of last year. But have they been able to run their graphics cards at full potential, as they usually would in Windows XP? Heck no!
Both nVidia and AMD have had Vista drivers out for their respective GeForce and Radeon graphics cards for some time now but they've been extremely crippled in terms of the features and performance from what you would normally expect in Windows XP. Sure, Vista drivers are more challenging to produce since they are working with a new operating system and different driver techniques (DX10) but should that really be an excuse? These big companies should really be on top of it.
From what we have seen and how we feel, AMD are ahead of nVidia in terms of Vista driver development with more updates and support for their full range of graphics cards (including their most high-end Radeon X1950XTX). Even still, AMD's previous Vista driver releases have not had Crossfire support and skipped features like an OpenGL driver. nVidia meet harsh criticism in many online forums for poor and lackluster Vista driver development. While there may be some floating around in the wild, to this day, nVidia still does not have a public Vista driver for users of the new GeForce 8800 series and don't even think about SLI.
In one day or so depending on where you are sitting, Microsoft is set to release all versions of their latest operating system into the consumer world. AMD's ATI driver team in Canada has seemingly saved all for the last minute. They sent us their Catalyst 7.1 graphics card driver for Vista to check out last week and have promised not just DirectX 3D performance and stability increases over the previous release but also an improved Catalyst Control Center, HD-DVD and Blu-ray support through AVIVO, a new installer and Crossfire support for the full range of X1000 series Radeon cards.
We'll examine the changes in the WHQL driver going through the PDF presentation which they sent to us and then run some 32-bit based benchmarks under Vista Home Premium to try and backup their claims. Let's get started and see if AMD finally have a Vista driver for their Radeon cards, which is actually worth installing and using.