View Full Version : Detonator entropy

05-24-03, 03:50 AM
With all the driver issues right now I thought I'd register just to add this:

Following the 42.01's I tried some of the beta 4x detonators and performance on my Ti4600 started to decay, and even 2x anti-aliasing started to look broken. I tried returning to the 42.01's and 40.72 whqls, but performance was still low and anti-aliasing still looked like hell.

Getting tired of this I went back to the 30.82 whqls about a month ago and hey presto! Morrowind (what I use for testing) ran faster, looked better, and 2x anti-aliasing was back to normal. In short, Morrowind runs better on my machine (XP2000, 512MB, Asus A7A266E) using 9 month old drivers than it does with more recent whqls and betas! (I test it by walking and then running from the south entrance into Balmora to the ground level door of the Mage's Guild. Short test I know but that gives me a tight picture of frame rate fluctuation.)

This is pretty ridiculous isn't it? I would have thought that drivers should evolve over a long period of time; squashing bugs and gradually picking up performance. To be forced to go back to 8 month (at the time of reinstallation, currently 9 month) old drivers because the more recent ones make my most played game look worse and run slower is stupid.

I'm not partisan. I don't have `brand loyalty' and why should I? What I care about is games looking good, running fast, and good support in the shape of evolving drivers. I also want to be able to email or fill in a form to contact the manfacturer to report my problems so that they can squash these bugs for the next driver release. Sadly I can't see any of those things from nVidia right now.

Now comes the 3D Mark stuff. I'm not using 3D Mark currently, simply because it's quicker to go into a game I actually play and because the Ti4600 isn't a DX9 card. I appreciate the presence of a benchmark that can really stress the VPU (or whatever the latest marketing jargon is) though.

For nVidia to get caught cheating and then come out not merely blaming but attacking Futuremark makes them look deeply shabby. I don't believe they're about to be put out of business or anything stupid like that, but this kind of action makes them look like they're on the run.

Contrast this to how ATI handled the situation. As to whether they were doing anything wrong, that seems debatable at best, and when someone like Tim Sweeney says they aren't that's about as gospel as we're going to get short of Futuremark's investigation. Regardless, ATI are going to eliminate the reordering in the next driver.

So nVidia is proven to be cheating and attacks/undermines Futuremark, whilst ATI isn't proved to be cheating and says they'll try and sort it with their next driver.

Like I said, I'm not into brand loyalty, I'm into good hardware with good support. With driver report forms and a public beta testing program on top of great hardware, ATI looks very good right now.

I'm not in the market for a new graphics card quite yet, but I'm checking the products out seriously right now. 4 to 8 months down the road, my Ti4600 is history. The way everything looks right now, my next card will be a Radeon.

In addendum I reported my driver experiences to an nV News admin when they happened (about a month ago I believe) and suggested that they might like to investigate what was going on with the drivers. People must get loads of emails though so no worries. I just think it's interesting that I saw what I saw a month ago and now the 3D Mark situation hits the fan.


05-28-03, 02:56 AM
To followup (since no-one else wants to :) ) John Carmack has said much the same thing as Tim Sweeney.

However, as others have said I've come to think that maybe ATI should remove the optimisation from 3D Mark and save such things for games. 3D Mark is still valid I feel, but perhaps removal of optimisations would allow a more neutral comparison, provided nVidia plays along with that of course. If they don't they'll look doubly bad.

Mind you, who would have thought a year or two back that ATI would have cards like the R3X0 and drivers like the Catalysts? They've already come so far that I'm sure their drivers will overcome losing the small gain from the optimisations. nVidia's going to have a harder job overcoming their loss.

I hope competition continues. With two companies pushing each other along then both will hopefully feel obliged to produce better hardware.

Unfortunately nVidia's next big thing always seems to be tomorrow. Looked at in isolation the 5900 is a brilliant card, but looked at in context, with its drivers and its competition, it doesn't seem so good to me. Additionally, their competition is setting the pace with a larger die size. What will happen when ATI shift down to .13 I wonder?

I still think blaming Futuremark for problems that are their own is shabby and does nothing for my desire to buy one of their products. As I said, I don't have brand loyalty, because I want the best product, and right now I feel that product is made by ATI. Here's hoping nVidia will keep competing though, that they will come back with something strong, because the nv30 generation looks weak.

And here's hoping the fervency of the current issues dies down. It could do with being approached with a little more calmness and less emotion. I haven't agreed with a number of things that have been said by nvnews on this issue, both in terms of reporting and moderation, but I respect the fact that trying to keep a lid on a situation like this must be hard work. Hope things get quieter for you soon!


edit for grammar

05-28-03, 03:03 AM
Yes Nvidia seems to forget about previous generation cards with their newer drivers.
Perhaps it is a way to encourage upgrading.

05-28-03, 03:25 AM
This must be more of an issue with the GeForce4 Ti series because the vast majority of the 4x.xx dets have worked just fine on my laptop, which is based on the GeForce4 MX 440. FSAA works fine (when I can use it that is :p ) and IQ is generally quite good.

Of course, I really have no reason to use the absolute latest drivers unless I'm having some sort of problem. I upgrade pretty much to stay current. But the WHQL 43.51 drivers have done me no wrong thus far.

05-28-03, 04:46 AM
I've got replies. :bugeyes:

Originally posted by Placid
Yes Nvidia seems to forget about previous generation cards with their newer drivers.
Perhaps it is a way to encourage upgrading.

That would be very Microsoft of them, and wouldn't sit at all well with them having made so much of their unified driver architecture for so long.

saturnotaku's post is interesting too. Maybe it is confined to the Ti cards, or certain Ti cards. I would agree that the image quality is quite good, but with hardware becoming more advanced, quite good doesn't seem quite good enough anymore, particularly with ever more advanced games coming (We've been rather busy in your absence Mr Freeman.)

I'm very much inclined to stick with the 30.82 whql's. Why change if they're doing well? One other game I noticed problems with (just remembered) is Jedi Knight II. When I first had that (can't remember the drivers I had at the time) I could play it with Quincunx AA and 4x AF. Last time round I could only play it with 2x AA 2xAF due to stuttering.