While the public continues to speculate about ATIís upcoming PCI Express and graphics plans, ATIís CATALYST driver team has been busy cranking out new drivers. Each new release this year has added new features, whether its enhanced OVERDRIVE, newer MultiMedia Center software, or what was arguably CATALYST 4.2ís most popular feature, Direct3D setting enhancement, ATIís most recent drivers have all contained something new to talk about.
CATALYST 4.3 is no exception, as ATI has incorporated SURROUNDVIEW in this driver set. SURROUNDVIEW is a feature that was introduced with ATIís integrated RADEON 9100 IGP for the Pentium 4 platform. When a RADEON 9100 IGP-based motherboard is paired with a dual display card like the RADEON 9800, up to three displays can be used simultaneously by the end user. SURROUNDVIEW is supported by the entire RADEON 9x00 family (excluding the RADEON 9700 and RADEON 9100), giving end users with one of these graphics cards or motherboards, a tempting excuse to upgrade.
We recently got our hands on ASUSí RADEON 9100 IGP board, the P4R800-V Deluxe and will have a full review shortly with our impressions of SURROUNDVIEW and gaming/productivity applications.
The other feature that has been incorporated into CATALYST 4.3 is enhanced rotation support. With a kick press of the rotation button your display can be rotated 90 degrees left or right, or rotated 180 degrees. Under the rotation tab you can also assign this function to a hotkey (Ctrl+Alt+Down is the default setting). This feature is handy for flat panel users.
CATALYST 4.3 is also the first driver ATI has released this year that purports to feature enhanced DX9 performance, so we were particularly eager to boot up Tomb Raider, while we also decided to add Halo to the test suite, even though it doesnít offer the ability to record custom demos. But before we get into performance, we first had to test compatibility.
Once again the first application we tested was EAís Madden 2004. Anti-aliasing has been broken in this title for the past few CATALYST driver releases. Unfortunately, the jaggies persist with CATALYST 4.3. The best way to resolve this issue is to press Alt+Enter to switch to the Windows desktop, and then Alt+Enter to get back into Madden 2004. Voila! Youíve got AA in Madden 2004!
The other application we had issues with was Battlefield 1942. We noticed that the RADEON 8500 had severe problems with missing textures in our CATALYST 4.2 report, some end users had even reported AA issues with this card and previous CATALYST drivers.
Fortunately we didnít run into either problem with CATALYST 4.3 and the RADEON 8500. The game ran flawlessly and looked beautiful.