Now that Windows 7 has officially been released to manufacturing (RTM), expect to see third-party driver development kick into high gear, especially as the OS's October 22nd release date inches closer. AMD appears to be ready and has announced the release of the company's first WHQL-certified ATI Catalyst graphics drivers for the RTM.
AMD's Catalyst drivers are of the unified variety, meaning the same set works with both Windows 7 and Vista. With regards to Windows 7, AMD promises its drivers will offer stability and compatibility out of the gate, bring "full support for the visually stunning desktop environment of Windows 7," better gaming performance when compared to Vista, and full support for ATI FirePro professional graphics.
Nvidia this week released new WHQL videocard drivers, now in version 186.18. A handful of bugs have been squashed in this newest update, most of which relate to Windows 7. Some of the resolved issues include:
Resolves issue where PhysX option would be disabled by default in multi-GPU configurations (XP)
Resolves issue where the system would not resume from Standby mode when running a 9800 GX2 (Vista and Windows 7)
Changes made to program settings from the Nvidia Control Panel in 3D Settings are now preserved after closing and reopening when running a 9500 GS (Windows 7)
SLI focus display can now be switched using "Set SLI configuration" for GTX 260 owners (Windows 7)
Not a whole lot has been done to improve performance if you're upgrading from a previous 186.xx or 185.xx driver release. However, if you're upgrading from 182.xx, Nvidia claims double digit performance boosts in a number of titles, including up to 45 percent in Mirror's Edge with antialiasing enabled, 30 percent better performance in Half-Life 2 engine games with tri- and quad-SLI enabled, and a 25 percent boost in The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena.
AMD/ATI this week released new Catalyst drivers, now in version 9.6. The new driver package sports a number of performance improvements, including:
Company of Heroes - up to 25 percent better performance with HD 4600 series
Crysis - up to 13 percent better performance in multi-GPU configurations
Crysis Warhead - up to 11 percent better performance in mutli-GPU configurations
World in Conflict - up to 30 percent better performance in settings that were previously CPU limited
In addition to goosing performance in a handful of titles, Catalyst 9.6 also squashes a boatload of bugs and resolves a ton of issues across all current Windows operating systems. Some of these include:
Opening Crossfire pages no longer causes Catalyst Control Center to stop responding (all Windows OSes)
Catalyst Control Center no longer appears interlaced when automatic deinterlacing is enabled (all Windows OSes)
On some configurations, video artifacts are no longer visible during playback of transcoded video files (Vista)
Team Fortress 2 some slowdowns no longer occur during gameplay (XP)
Catalyst Control Center no longer shows Crossfire as disabled (Windows 7)
For a full list of improvements (and there are many), refer to the release notes (PDF). Driver downloads available here.
Asus this week announced new beta drivers for several of its motherboards that "enable Asus motherboard users to run Windows 7 RC." By doing so, Asus claims its mobos are the world's first to support the newly released operating system.
"Asus' industry-leading Research & Development team has kept close pace with each new beta release of Windows 7, and has developed beta drivers that enable Asus motherboard users to try Windows 7 RC immediately," Asus wrote in a press release. "The drivers can be downloaded from the Asus Motherboard Support website (http://support.asus.com/)."
Asus notes the following models are now officially supported:
P6T Deluxe V2
P5Q PRO Turbo
P5Q SE PLUS
Updated drivers for the full range of P6T, P5Q, and M4 series boards will be coming soon, Asus says.
Back in February, we brought you an article called Give Windows a Clean Start, which explained all the details about how to properly perform a system-cleansing reformat, without losing your valuable data. It covered important steps like salvaging product keys, deactivating apps, prepping iTunes and making backups. The original article was written for desktop PCs, and although nearly all of the techniques also work for laptops, we thought a supplement about how to install laptop drivers on a fresh Windows install as called for.
Sure, almost all laptops come with recovery discs or recovery partions, so a full reformat is rarely absolutely necessary, but there are a number of reasons you might want to do it:
2. You want to reformat and upgrade or downgrade to Vista or XP.
3. You’ve managed to truly, thoroughly hose your laptop beyond all recognition, and you lost your restore disc.
If one of the above applies to you and you have a retail Windows install disc, then give your laptop a clean start!. First, check out the original article for advice about saving your data, then read on to learn what software you'll need to install after your reformat.
AMD has just released new Catalyst 9.4 drivers for ATI videocard owners. In keeping with the promise the company previously made, Catalyst 9.4 offers unified support for Windows 7, XP, and Vista.
Highlighted in the 9.4 release is the new ATI OverDrive auto-tuning application. Designed for the ATI Radeon HD 4000 series, the new OverDrive module claims to "accurately determine the best overclocked engine and memory values for ATI OverDrive supported ATI Radeon graphics accelerators." AMD cautions it will not warranty busted videocards that give up the ghost as a result of using the utility, which further highlights why it's so cool XFX, who will have your back, now sells ATI-branded cards.
Catalyst 9.4 resolves a number if issues covering all supported operating systems. Among the resolutions:
World of Warcraft no longer flickers when Shadow is set to medium/high in a CrossFire configuration (Vista)
Resolutions above 1024 x 768 will now full screen properly for specific HDMI displays (Vista)
Overlay Theater Mode display no longer corrupt after enabling 3D screen saver (XP)
Display now redraws correctly in City of Villains after changing graphics settings (Windows 7)
No more jitter or flicker caused by WinDVD9 HD playback (Windows 7)
Windows 7 is already feeling the love from both graphics camps. Earlier this month, Nvidia released a specialized Forceware driver for the beta OS along with the promise of regular updates, and now AMD has followed suit with its new ATI Catalyst 9.3 driver this week. However, the new Catalyst driver rolls both Windows 7 and Vista support into a single download, allowing the company to lay claim as offering the "first unified driver installation package to incorporate Windows 7 support." AMD says future Catalyst releases will also be unified for both the current and upcoming Windows OSes.
"AMD's expertise in visual computing shines through in the combined experience of Windows 7 and ATI Radeon graphics," said Anantha Kancherla, group manager responsible for Windows graphics, Microsoft. "With today's release of a Windows 7 unified driver, AMD once again demonstrates its ability to deliver perfromance and cutting-edge driver support."
Hit the jump to find out what else to expect from the new Catalyst 9.3 unified driver.
Word on the web is that Nvidia will release its GTS 250 videocard sometime this week, which is essentially a rebranded 9800 GTX+. Nvidia's latest GeForce drivers -- WHQL 182.08 -- adds support for the upcoming card, while also extending SLI profile support for some newly released games.
Nvidia claims up to double-digit performance gains in handful of games with the new drivers versus 181.22, including up to 11 percent in Left 4 Dead at high resolution with AA, up to 10 percent in F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, and up to 10 percent in Race Driver: GRID at high resolution and AA.
The latest release also fixes a bug in Vista 32-bit with dual-GeForce 8600 GT videocards that prevented the Fluid Demo (using PhysX) from running while using hardware acceleration when SLI is enabled. Good thing too, lest anyone second guess investing in two 8600 GT cards.
The official release of Windows 7 might still be several months away, but that isn't stopping Nvidia from preparing for Vista's successor with new graphics drivers aimed at Windows 7 beta users. The new drivers are available now, and Nividia promises this is just the start of a regular driver release schedule. Remember that shortly after Vista debuted, Microsoft blamed buggy Nvidia drivers for giving the OS a bad rap.
"Since its release last month, the Windows 7 Beta has been eagerly tested by hundreds of thousands of NVIDIA GeForce owners, who are excited about the many graphical improvements Microsoft has added into the upcoming operating system," said Ujesh Desai, vice president of GeForce desktop business at NVIDIA.
Nvidia says it has been working closely with Microsoft so that its new drivers will take full advantage of the additional features and functionality Windows 7 brings to the table. Kicking off with v181.71, Nvidia's graphics drivers support the new Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) v1.1. The drivers also support SLI on DX9, 10, and OpenGL applications, PhysX, CUDA, and Direct3D, Direct2D, and DirectWrite.
ATI has just released its Catalyst 9.1 driver package, bringing full OpenGL 3.0 support to the table, a feature which was made available to Nvidia videocard owners for the first time a month ago. While Direct3D has emerged as a front runner for Windows gaming, it should be noted that OpenGL 3.0's features can be enabled on both XP and Vista, and also Linux and Mac OS.
As can be expected are a number of bug fixes with the new driver, but perhaps surprisingly to some, ATI's Catalyst 9.1 shares the love with Linux, an area long considered a weak spot. ATI says the new driver introduces support for Ubuntu 8.10, while also enabling Hybrid CrossFireX. Also in the driver's bag of open-source tricks is MultiView support, which can be enabled using single or multiple GPU configurations.