Ouch! ATIs latest driver release lacks support for their latest and greatest video card.

I was just about to set up a system for testing ATI's Radeon X1950XTX video card, which was release about a month ago with retail availability starting 2 weeks ago. Courtesy of Sapphire I am able to play with such a card. So plug it in, connect power-cable and monitor, install drivers and go, right? Nope!

Everything went fine until I wanted to install the drivers. I simply picked the latest Catalyst drivers, which is Catalyst 6.9 from last week. The problem was, it simply wouldn't install. It couldn't be the nForce 4 mainboard, no? A quick check at ATI's website revealed that its latest driver release indeed doesn't support the Radeon X1950XTX.

To make matters worse, it actually supports no new cards released in August. Although Radeon X1650 Pro and X1300 XT are just renamed X1600 Series products, sometimes with revamped memory configuration - that's vendor dependant though - they are not included in the drivers INF file. It will probably support the Radeon X1900 XT 256MB, as this is just the same card with half the memory, nothing else changed.

Of course the X1950 XTX shipped with a CD that contains a compatible driver based on Catalyst 6.8. But that's not really an excuse as ATI had enough time to add it to their publicly available drivers. Did they really? Well, a quick check on the INF file reveals, that the driver dates back to 08/22/2006. So the driver release is basically 3 weeks old. While there is always a delay between completion and release (think testing, WHQL certification...), it simply shows how ATIs driver development is working. ATI's driver team did not include the new cards, although they should have known internally.

So what did I do? I wanted to use the lastest drivers no matter what. So I simply edited the INF file of Catalyst 6.9 and added those lines from the vendor supplied disc containing a compatible Catalyst 6.8 release and installed them manually via Device Manager. Did I mention that you lose the WHQL certification when you do this? This is hardly a solution for the Average Joe. Let's just hope that ATI will do better with their upcoming Radeon X1650 XT and X1950 Pro products which should launch within the next month.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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