Saturday, January 17, 2009

ATI - Oh why, oh why?

It's like a beloved family pet has died.

I'm done with ATI. Never again.

My shop was always a firm supporter of ATI from the early days. By the time the first Rage chipsets came out, we were almost exclusively selling ATI products. They were not only a Canadian company, but they produced solid, reliable video cards. They were not always the fastest, but they were trouble free, and that was exactly what I wanted.

When a new Microsoft OS came out, you had support for your ATI products built in - It was just a given. Things worked. The world was a happy place with your ATI video card.

The shift in ATI happened gradually - they started going for more speed, wanting to be more cutting edge. More corners were cut, more fickle markets were being explored.

Being bought by AMD was both a good and a bad thing - but they were going south long before AMD stepped in.

What's with the Catalyst driver suite? Why do we need .NET to install graphics drivers? Yes, it's just for the control panel, but frig - big & bloated does NOT appeal to the gaming segment, nor to the business segment. Sure it's flash and fun to look at, but that gets boring after 5 min. You're not in the control panel all day - you use it for a while, then it's left alone for months or years.

If you want to have some fun, try and get ATI All-in-Wonder cards working with Microsoft Medic Center. Even funnier - try with Vista Media Center. There is simply no support. These high end cards are totally abandoned. All the money put into these cards (and they were never cheap) is wasted. You will have better luck with some no-name TV input cards than you will with the mighty ATI brand name.

It's not Microsoft's fault. They are not here to make drivers for the hardware companies. The number of posts with ATI users struggling to watch TV on ATI AIW cards is astounding.

I frigged with my Radeon 9000 AIW and MCE2005 for days. I even went as far as using my x800XT - I could never get playback and TV Input working. I shouldn't have to frig with this. I'm not asking for my Rage II video card to have full Vista support - we're taking cards that are not that old here.

BUT - My old Radeon 9000 AIW works just fine with MCE 2002, because Dell cut some specific drivers for it that work. Dell made it work for that particular package, and since they didn't sell that machine to run MCE 2005, they don't support it. I don't blame Dell for that. This is where the graphics chipset manuf. is supposed to come in.

Then there is the whole list of 3rd party Radeon chipset cards made for Dell or other peripheral companies that just don't work with the default ATI drivers. You have to track down old drivers from Sun-Moon-Star or similar defunct 3rd party companies. My built-for-Dell Radeon 9000 is one of them. ATI's standard driver install won't see it. It's the same frigging card. I have to use Omega or other hacked drivers to get them to work with my card.

This doesn't happen with Nvidia. It doesn't matter who makes that GeForce 7300LE chipset card - the basic nVidia drivers work with them. And they work well.

When my ATi Radeon 9000 AIW won't play back video in MCE, I just have to drop in an OLDER nVidia card, and I can play video without any problems. And you know what, it plays better as well.

I could also recant my recent RMA problems with a workstation-class ATI Fire GL card in an engineering workstation. ATI had to send THREE cards to me before they got it straight. They couldn't figure out their own cryptic part numbers, and kept sending the wrong replacement card. We told them exactly what it was every time - part number and the basic description - ATI Fire GL V3350 PCIe card with 256M. We were pissed, customer was pissed (as the whole process took over a month to resolve).

Learn from my pain. Learn from the pain of literally 10's of thousands of others. Stay away from ATI. Let them die now, so we can reflect on the good times we had with ATI before there is nothing but bad memories.

If you're going for TV - get yourself a Hauppage TV input card. Don't bother with anything else, or you'll be frigging with it.

I love nVidia cards at the moment - they are going into our business and gaming machines. Matrox - I haven't done much with them lately, but I have nothing bad to say about them.

ATI's Crossfire is very cool. It's better than nVidia's SLI, but I won't support their crappy company anymore. I'll give the cash to nVidia, and hope that their SLI2 (or whatever replaces SLI) is a proper step up.

My stock of any ATI product is going on ebay/Kijij - I don't even want to see them in my shop anymore. Just a huge waste of time. Nvidia, Matrox, frig - even a 3dfx Voodoo card please!

AMD - You own this crap-pile now. Smarten up - Making Crossfire an open conept is excellent, but won't save your video arm if you keep going down this route. Look carefully at nVidia's drivers - they install. No frigging. No worries about who made the card. I say I have a 7300LE, and I download the drivers, and install. No mess! It's how it's susposed to work.

Gah. I feel empty inside.

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