Originally Posted by Viral
It's shady for comparing 68xx to results with older drivers, making the 68xx look better than they are. For all other purposes, the option to change the quality is still there, and the people who don't know these sorts of things won't notice the difference in quality anyway and will just enjoy a nice speed boost.
My theory is that these are "benchmarking drivers".
ATi releases 6850s and 6870s with drivers they build benchmark enhancing optimizations into the default settings, knowing that all the reviews of the new cards will have 5-10% better performance numbers than their normal drivers would provide.
Review sites that have one to two weeks to grind out benchmarks and articles do so.
Consumers and some websites subsequently notice "Hey! What's with the sparkling textures?!"
ATi announces,"We are very sorry this bug escaped our QA process and will release a revised driver soon."
Meanwhile, all the benchmarks of their products on the web stay up with the inflated numbers and customers purchase the ATi products based on false information. IMHO, any site that used default settings for these reviews should take down the reviews, or put a disclaimer on them to the effect they were run at reduced image quality so consumers can make accurate assessments of current products.