It can be safely said that when
ATI released Catalyst Control Centre it received
less than a stellar reception by many of the companies core
enthusiast gamers. Load times were slow, memory overheads were
high and many felt it was perhaps a step in the wrong direction.
Currently while ATI still back this .net based driver interface
as the way forward many enthusiast users feel the memory
overhead is still high and it is slower in operation that the
older standard style Control Panel. There has been heated debate
on our forums since the inception of CCC with .net framework
and if you visit any active tech based forum there will still
be debate on the matter. "Are nVidia going to go down
the same road?" was a question often asked.
Nvidia have countered with their new look panels
and while many people have already unlocked these via registry
hacks, it is only today that they have "officially"
released them as a beta.
So what exactly is new?
*Beta driver – for a full list of fixed
and known issues please view the Release Notes.
*Adds support for GeForce 7900 GS, GeForce 7300 GT, Quadro FX
4500 X2, Quadro FX 5500, Quadro FX 3500, Quadro FX 1500, and
Quadro FX 560.
*Includes the new NVIDIA Control Panel. Please visit the NVIDIA
Control Panel website for more information.
*New NVIDIA PureVideo features and enhancements. Please visit
the NVIDIA PureVideo website for more information on PureVideo
technology and system requirements.
*Adds noise reduction post processing
*Adds image sharpening post processing
*Improved Inverse telecine algorithm
*Improved de-interlacing algorithm
*Improved compatibility with third party MPEG-2 decoders
*Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0c and OpenGL® 2.0 support
Installing the drivers is a simple double click
process and before you ask, no you do not need to install .net
We felt it would be more beneficial to test
the driver panels on an SLI based system, so we used a high
end FX-60 powered 7900GTX system. As you can see in the image
above, the panel is considerably different compared to the older
style. We are presented with three primary options, 3D settings,
display and video and television.
Basic 3d settings menu options.
Viewing changes with a preview is a similar
option which will be familiar to many ATI users, except this
time we are not presented with a 3d car but the corporate nVidia
logo, ideal for a user to toggle "quality" or "speed"
settings. The layout is neat and clicking the advanced 3d options
takes you to a new panel which will be more beneficial to the
This is more like it, all the options we need
to customize our gaming experience, again this is well laid
out with everything tailored for the experienced user. It is
worth pointing out at this stage, on our test system the panels
loaded instantly with no wait times.
Program settings is another tab within this
particular panel and allows us to change application specific
driver settings. This can come in exceptionally useful for troubleshooting
or for experimenting with various options.
As we have an SLI solution we were delighted
to see that the driver immediately picked up upon the fact our
setup could support dual rendering. In fact the driver immediately
detected this and configured the driver accordingly.
This is where it gets really interesting as
Nvidia have given the end user without any registry hacks, full
access to rendering modes for SLI, split frame rendering, two
methods of alternative frame rendering and single card rendering
mode. This option is something that I value tremendously as
you can experiment with game titles that are not yet supported
within the driver profile. Quite frequently you find a rendering
mode that a game will support with SLI, meaning you do not have
to wait for Nvidia to support this in a forthcoming driver release.
After spending substantial time battling with ATI's crossfire
and Catalyst Control Centre this is a welcome addition and one
I feel ATi should have unlocked long ago.
Transparency antialiasing is also supported
out of the box with Multisampling and supersampling modes available.
Powerstrip has for many years had the option
of defining custom resolutions and this has proven a very popular
facet to many end users, especially those on large CRT screens
or those on laptops who are having problems getting a particular
driver to recognize a specific resolution. nVidia have given
the end user total control in making their own custom screen
resolutions and I applaud them for making this possible.
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