AMD's latest drivers -- Catalyst 10.4 -- are now up for grabs, and there are a handful of reasons why you should be interested (if you own an ATI videocard). The new drivers introduce a few new features, a little bit better performance, and resolves a whole bunch of issues across a number of operating systems.
ATI Catalyst can now play back 5.1 level streams on all supported players, as well as allows for play back of high resolutions (4Kx2K). Support for the Windows 7 Drag and Drop video converter has been enhanced with performance improvements, and new formats are now supported, such as H.264 -- MTS and WMV9 Complex interlace content.
The only performance boost AMD mentions is in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. -- Clear Sky, which runs up to 6 percent better on HD 5970 hardware, and up to 3 percent better on both 5800 and 5700 series graphics cards. The bulk of the update appears to focus on resolving updates, some of which include:
Desktop mouse cursor will no longer intermittently appear enlarged (all OSes)
Tint setting under Catalyst Control Center -- Basic Color now displays smooth transition when adjusted for Blu-ray playback (Windows 7)
Audio playback devices now properly displays "ATI HDMI Output" when a HDMI display is connected (Vista)
[Adobe Flash Player] Resume from standby no longer causes hardware acceleration to become disabled (XP)
With the launch of Nvidia's GF100 architecture, you knew another driver release was just around the corner, and here it is. Nvidia has made available its GeForce 197.41 WHQL drivers, which are mostly geared towards adding support. Here's what's new:
Nvidia PhysX System Software v9.10.0129
HD audio driver version 126.96.36.199
Support added for GTX 480/470
There's isn't a whole lot mentioned in the way of performance gains, though the latest driver does bring support for the new version of MotionDSP's video enhancement software, vReveal, and this is the driver to get if you plan on playing with GPU-accelerated features in Adobe CS5, Nvidia said.
Those of you holding out for a GeForce driver package that won't bork your videocard, this might it. Nvidia on Thursday released its WHQL 197.13 drivers for GeForce 6, 7, 8, 9, 100, 200, and 300-series desktop GPUs and ION desktop GPUs.
"This driver resolves the fan speed issues reported with version 196.75 drivers," Nvidia states, adding that you should "remove 196.75 drivers and update to this 197.13 WHQL driver."
In case you missed it, Nvidia's short-lived 196.75 driver was the culprit in reported fan speed issues causing videocards to overheat. The latest release reportedly fixes the problem, while also introducing a number of performance bumps, including:
Up to 13 percent performance increase in Crysis: Warhead with a single GPU
Up to 30 percent performance increase in Crysis: Warhead with SLI technology
Up to 13 percent performance increase in H.A.W.X. with single GPU
Up to 15 percent performance increase in H.A.W.X. with SLI technology
Up to 30 percent performance increase in Left 4 Dead with single GPU
Up to 28 percent performance increase in Left 4 Dead with SLI technology
Terry Makedon, the main man behind AMD's ATI Catalyst drivers who goes by the nick "CatalystMaker" on Twitter, announced in a recent tweet that the "Official Catalyst 10.3 is now live."
AMD previously promised improved Eyefinity support in the new drivers, and Catalyst 10.3 delivers. According to the release notes, users can now create multiple ATI Eyefinity groups from multiple displays. Display Bezel Compensation is also bundled in, which includes an easy-to-use wizard to adjust the display layout to remove pixels hidden behind bezels.
On the performance front, AMD claims a number of improvements, including up to 4 percent better scores in 3DMark Vantage, 5 percent in Aliens vs. Predator, up to 8 percent in Battleforge, up to 6 percent in Call of Duty: World at War, up to 6 percent in Company of Heroes, up to 6 percent in both Crysis and Crysis Warhead, up to 10 percent in Devil May Cry 4, up to a whopping 30 percent in DiRT 2 (HD 5970 owners), and the list goes on.
Nvidia this week released new GeForce driver (version 197.13) the company claims resolves recent fan speed issues, and apologized for the incident.
"Nvidia apologizes to any GeForce owners that installed the 196.75 driver and experienced quality issues," Nvidia said in a statement. "For the small number of customers that did experience problems, in almost every case reverting back to our 196.21 driver immediately resolved their issues. We continue to work closely with our add-in card partners and PC manufacturers to help resolve any additional customer issues not solved by reverting to the earlier driver. Any GeForce owner who has questions about their board as a result of downloading the 195.75 drivers should contact their board supplier."
Earlier this month, Nvidia pulled the 196.75 driver release after complaints began surfacing that the buggy driver flubbed the fan controls, causing videocards to overheat. Users reported a number of associated issues, including dropped framerates and even motherboard damage.
There's more trouble brewing in the Nvidia camp, this time over a driver release that may not have been ready for prime time. According to Tom Hernandez over at IncGamers.com, several StarCraft II beta testers have complained tht their videocards have gone belly up after installing Nvidia's 196.75 drivers.
"Some players were blaming the StarCraft II Beta client's latest patch, but a Blizzard Tech Support representative quickly explained the issue is caused by the latest Nvidia 196.75 drivers," Hernandez writes. "Blizzard recommended to uninstall the Nvidia 196.75 drivers, and to downgrade to the previous driver version: 196.21."
Apparently this isn't limited to just StarCraft II. The issue, says Blizzard, relates to the fan control in Nvidia's latest driver, which is leaving videocards prone to overheating while running 3D applications. This has also led to lower than expected framerates, and even motherboard damage, according to reports.
Good news for ATI videocard owners who have been struggling with gray lines, vertical corruption, and other unpleasantries. AMD has released its Catalyst 10.2 package, and if the company follows through on its promise, these look to take things a little more seriously.
The latest release resolves a number of issues for a variety of Windows operating systems, just a handful of which include:
System will no longer freeze while accessing the UVD Decoder (all Windows OSes)
System no longer fails and screen distortion no longer visible during Blu-ray content playback with 1680x1050 (Windows 7)
Resume playback after sleep or hibernation no longer causes green block corruption on video (Windows Vista)
Changes to the AVIVO gamma settings during Blu-ray HD playback are not retained after closing and restarting player (Windows XP)
Performance improvements include up to 8 percent in Dirt 2 on ATI HD 5970, 5800, and 5700 series cards, 6 percent in Battleforce for HD 5870 CrossFire, and 4 percent in Chronicles of Riddick.
Some ATI videocard owners have had a rough go lately, with complaints of gray screens and vertical line corruption running rampant. The issue prompted AMD to release a hotfix (see here), and going forward, the company promises to do a better job.
Catalyst 10.2, which is due later this month, is supposed to usher in better game performance courtesy of game profiles that AMD says it's going to focus on. These will consist of separate executable files on AMD's site, giving ATi owners quicker access to improved performance rather than waiting for the next full-blown Catalyst release, Fudzilla reports. The upcoming driver will also bring better "panoramic gaming" with CrossFireX.
Later on down the line, Catalyst 10.3 will put a bit of focus on improving ATI's Eyefinity technology. Reports suggest this driver package will implement an easy-to-use wizard to help adjust the layout and compensate for monitor bezels.
Catalyst 10.3 will also cater to Mobility graphics owners, and AMD is said to be working with most of the major notebook manufacturers to make sure everything works as it should.
AMD over the weekend released a new Catalyst 10.1 hotfix intended to alleviate the "gray screen and vertical line corruptions that may randomly appear during normal usage when using an ATI Radeon HD 5800 series graphics card."
In the last couple of weeks, some users have flocked to AMD's user forums to complain about gray screens, crashes, hangups, and other quirks associated with their swank new 5800 series videocards, although a few users also mentioned AMD's HD 4xxx series.
When we first reported the problem, ATI got in touch with us and said it was aware of the issue, noting that "initial tests indicate that a driver hotfix resolves" the problem and that it would be made available shortly.
You can download the hotfix, which is available for Windows 7, Vista, XP, and XP Media Center, right here.
If you’re the type that obsessively updates your video drivers, you might also be the type that likes to overclock your video card. Those predilections certainly didn’t you well this week if you run Nvidia cards. The GeForce 196.21 drivers released this week caused overclocking software to stop working.
The glitch affected multiple tweaking apps like RivaTuner, EVGA Precision, and Galaxy MagicPanel HD. In some cases only the shader clock could not be set. In the more severe cases, shader, memory, and core clocks were all locked. At first, there was fear that this was an intentional move by Nvidia to limit user tweaks. Nvidia quickly cleared the whole matter up though. The problem is just a software bug and there will be an updated driver available soon.
Have you updated to the 196.21 drivers? Any problems?