ATI Legacy Driver Support vs. Nvidia


Diamond Member
Apr 3, 2002
Total ATI noob' question: How is ATI's record on supporting drivers for old discontinued products?

I've been using Nvidia since the TNT, and they give great Legacy Driver support (since the current Detonator drivers can be used with every Nvidia card since the TNT days, although one may argue about the efficiency of those new drivers).

But right now I'm considering getting the ATI Radeon 9700 pro.

From ATI's website
Featuring CATALYST? - ATI's industry-leading software suite with frequently scheduled free updates providing additional features and performance over the product's lifetime (emphasis added)

Since I may be using this card for the next five years, can I count on ATI updating drivers for this thing?

And not to start a flame war or anything, but what are the current state of ATI's drivers? I guess they've had problems in the past, but a lot of people seem to say that they are better now, but I saw at least one post here that said there was a problem with the current 9700 Pro driver.


Sep 9, 2002
Considering the 9800 I have is in the same class of hardware (kinda like cousins), I personally expect those cards to be supported for a long time. Five years is an incredibly long time in the computer industry, but the R3xx cards supports DX9 and OpenGL 1.3. I don't expect those standards to go away or no longer be backward compatible. It also depends on the card. In ATi's case, the Catalyst suite supports all Radeons AFAIK - the Rage series drivers are from 2001 but are easily found on the site.

Even though nVidia's drivers are better IMHO than ATi's drivers, I would not consider nV's the "gold standard" of VPU/GPU software that some or even a lot of people make them out to be. I believe ATi's is continually improving and have the ability to equal or surpass nVidia if they keep striving to improve. Also, remember that you can roll back if you don't like a driver set. Lots of people with nVidia cards are willing to do this (I see debates about 30.xx vs 40.xx all the time), but I tend to see lots of flak when this is suggested for any ATi card - kind of a double standard IMHO. If you want to decide which driver is the best, you may want to look "Driver Fixes" for each Catalyst driver set, which can be found on ATi's site. That will help determine which set is best for you. If you don't feel like doing all that, I'd just start with Catalyst 3.5. :)


Diamond Member
Jul 23, 2000
I have the original AIW tha's over 40 months old running dx9 and cats 3.4 and I've been playing Rise of nations, RTCW, Freelancer just a few with no problems at all.