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Powercolor ATi Radeon 9800 XT Video Card Review


Catalyst 3.8 Drivers

One of the most requested features in Catalyst drivers is for a way to uninstall the drivers. ATI has finally listened and has made the Catalyst 3.8 release uninstall able! All you have to do is run the Catalyst executable and it will be removed from your system, it's that easy. There are many other great features in the Catalyst 3.8 release such as; Overdrive, VPU Recovery, easier to navigate tabs, and cool shader effects.


One of the most innovative features on the 9800 XT with the Catalyst 3.8 drivers is the Overdrive feature. The 9800 XT has a thermal diode mounted on it that interfaces with the Catalyst drivers and dynamically overclocks the card based on the thermal conditions. Basically if the card is being cooled well, it will be clocked at a higher speed. The best part about this type of overclocking, is that it won't void your warranty! This new feature sort of takes the fun out of it for us overclockers. However, if it still isn't fast enough for us, we'll turn off Overdrive and clock it our self :) I still think this feature is an excellent idea and I welcome it to the industry with open arms.

It would of been great if ATI would have output the core and memory clock rates the card is currently running at, within the Overdrive tab. Also, it would of be nice if it also showed the temperature reading. These are two easy to implement features, I hope to see in the next Catalyst driver release.

Below is a table that shows what temperature the video card must be at, to achieve the corresponding clock rate. The normal (stock) clock rate is 412 MHz and Overdrive will never go below that clock speed.

Clock Speed Temperature
432 MHz 0°C - 51°C
419 MHz 48°C - 59°C
412 MHz 56°C - 127°C

Note: Only the XT model of Radeon's will support the Overdrive feature.

VPU Recover

VPU Recover is a feature that will automatically recover in the event of a system crash, relating to video, without having to reboot your computer. If your video card freezes up while in a game, VPU Recover will detect this and reset the VPU automatically without you having to reboot. There is a chance that VPU Recover will be unable to recover from a lock-up or crash, in this type of situation your system will switch to software rendering mode. You will then be able to save any open work, before rebooting.

Microsoft is now requiring this new feature for the next-generation Windows OS, Longhorn. Good call Microsoft! ATi is ahead of the competition by having this new feature out before anyone else. Thumbs up to them too!

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