OVERDRIVE, System Information and Things to Come
The Catalyst Control Center also includes the familiar Overdrive tool for auto adjustment of the VPU and memory clock speeds. The Information Center is a new system profiler that reports back information about system hardware, software, graphics hardware and driver information. While still in need of a few tweaks, i.e. our AMD system was reported as an Intel machine, the information tabs were useful in checking the detail of our hardware and driver information and will certainly be used by the ATI support team with technical support issues.
In the future, ATI plans to implement further changes to the Catalyst Control Center. By year's end, they hope to have an Auto Update feature that can fetch updates from ATI's servers, or OEMs will be able to auto update custom versions of the Catalyst Drivers. A virtual desktop manager is also in the works that will let users run multiple desktops and assign them to specific displays in a multi-monitor environment. ATI's Drag' n Zoom and Transparency features should have some interesting options when released, but we have not had a chance to see it in action, so stay tuned. There are also plans for some advanced video options to let users adjust Video Acceleration, De-Interlacing, Video Capture and offer Filter Options as well. All of these are teasers of things to come, and as more details become available, you can bet that we'll be here with updates.
After having the opportunity to work with the Catalyst Control Center, we've walked away with a favorable impression. Anytime a company takes the steps to improve the features and stability of their existing products, it deserves credit. With the current improvements to the Catalyst Control Center and the future plans, ATI's newest endeavor should help improve the end-user's experience while offering OEMs the flexibility to customize the Catalyst software to accommodate their needs. Offering a streamlined interface that is skin-able and more intuitive with an improved feature set are the Catalyst Control Center's strengths. We look forward to its evolution in the months to come. Nonetheless, there are a few issues that need to be addressed at this early stage of the product's introduction.
This first issue is a minor one. The System Information tool detected our Athlon64 system as an Intel platform. We were told that ATi is aware of this and will have that corrected in the next update. Fortunately, this issue has no bearing on functionality with the current version of Catalyst Control Center. The other issue is specific to users of some Dell and Samsung monitors. There is a commonly reported problem with the aforementioned monitors where the screen goes black, whether using an NVIDIA or ATI card. The NVIDIA solution can be quite complicated, requiring users to flash their monitors with updated firmware to correct the issue. With ATI cards, however, users had to go to the Options tab and uncheck the "Alternative DVI operational mode" to correct the problem. With the new Catalyst Control Center, however, this option is now hidden, but is still enabled by default. After experiencing this problem first hand, ATI provided a workaround and said that the issue will be corrected with the next update to the Control Center. We expressed concern that this seemed to be a fairly common issue and may be a problem for a lot of users who update to the Catalyst Control Center and asked if we could share the work around with the public. ATI agreed, so if you end up having a problem with your monitor going black after installing the Catalyst Control Center, feel free to drop us a line and we'll send you instructions on how to get back up and running, or you can contact ATI Support directly.