Saturday, August 04, 2007

You Have Failed Me For The Last Time, ATI

This was it. Tonight was the last straw.

I've been vacillating between ATI and Nvidia for my next video card, in the next system I am building. See, all the good, next-gen video cards are PCI-e, not AGP. The motherboard I use currently only has an AGP slot. Thus, I'm going to have to get another motherboard, which means another processor and RAM, then figure in the Video card and I might as well just be building an entire second box.

So I'd been trying to decide, NVidia's formidable 8800 series, or the ATI equivalent? Most of the tests I've seen put them neck and neck. In the past, I've had a lot of driver trouble with Nvidia, but that was back when the 4000 series was cutting edge and the drivers were still called "Detonator." The ATI Radeon 9800 pro 256 I've been using for the last couple years has been rather dependable and has reasonable performance for a card of its age... but the irritants built up over the years.

Of course, so often the "refresh rate" bug would manifest itself (practically every time I updated the ATI drivers), where no matter what refresh rate I set in the utility, 60 Hz is what I got, which creates an especially aggravating flicker on a 21" CRT. That took a registry hack to fix, and then later when I got my 22" LCD, 60 Hz ceased being an issue. Also there was the issue of having to use a special uninstaller/cleaner to rip out every last vestige of the driver every time I wanted to upgrade, but that happened from time to time with Nvidia as well.

But today, the final straw broke the camel's back, and my decision was made.

To resolve another minor issue, I jumped through all the little hoops to update my Catalyst drivers from 6.9 to 7.7. Doing so added a new option (well, new to me anyway) to adjust the image scaling. What this meant was this: thus far, old games (which I play a lot of) which didn't support resolutions for widescreen were being stretched horizontally to fill the entire screen, warping the aspect ratio of the image. I don't like that. I'd rather have anti-letterbox black bars down the side and have the proper ratio on the image. I know this is possible, I've seen it done on other systems, but there was no way to indicate my preference on my current system until now.

I was ecstatic. Too many of my old favorites dating back a dozen years had languished due to the "widescreen ratio barrier." So I gleefully ticked the option to "use centered timings" instead of "scale image to full panel size" under the digital panel properties. Then I pulled up an old game.

And it got stretched.

Confused, I checked and reset the settings, and tried again. No dice.

So I go on a hunt across various support forums trying to figure out if this is another one of those little things that just needs a special tweak (ATI's got a lot of things like that). But I found my hopes cruelly dashed. It was some sort of sick joke. The only people, apparently, who have been able to get this feature to work had very expensive dell LCD panels. For the rest of us schmoes, our choices were get stretched no matter what or buy Nvidia. [References - 1 2 3 4]

The bile backed up in my throat as my mind screamed "Why?! Why taunt users with a nearly-completely-non-functional option?" It was as if AMD/ATI had very specifically come up and dangled a juicy, juicy carrot in front of me... one for which I had longed ever since I had gotten a widescreen monitor... and when my teeth were just about to take their first nibble of the long-awaited treat, I got smacked in the testicles by an electrified reciprocating testicular smacking machine which they had designed specifically for this scenario. Teased and betrayed, seduced and abandoned. That's me.

So screw you, ATI, you bitch! To quote Cleveland Brown, "I may not be perfect, Loretta, but I deserve better than you!" A Geforce 8800 awaits me with tender embrace to comfort me, cut as I am by all your lies and broken promises. And one day you'll see us together, so happy, and you will cry and we will laugh and point and sing and you will hate yourself forever!

1 comment:

PPMcBiggs said...

I dont have any problems what so ever with my 7800GTX/Dell 2407 combo. It is so good. Man, I love it.

This kind of makes me think back to some time around 1998. ATI's website had gotten hacked and somebody just put the words "ATI: Ape turd idiot" as the only thing on the site. I think that guy might have been having problems with his ATI card too. I took it as advice and never bought an ATI card. Thank you anonymous hacker for saving me from such a fate as Gas Bandit.

If you go with an 8800 though be aware that certain models have random slow downs.

Guess your just going to have to go all out to make sure you dont get a bad card.