Remember to run repair permissions from Jag's Disk Utility after running the installer. A good general rule to follow for any OS X or X apps update also.) I've got a 9800 pro review in the works now (very late due to family health problems in the last few weeks). As with my 9700 Pro OEM review, I'm comparing it to a GF4 Ti, 9000 Pro and 8500 graphics cards in a Dual G4 MDD system. When will the new ATI Displays be released?
Note - when OS X 10.2.7 is released, Bruno said to run the 1.1 installer again to install the ATI displays software (drivers from 10.2.7 will not be overwritten).
(Update - see the links to the 1.1 installer noted a the top of this page,
it has the 4.1 displays control panel included. The advanced features of ATI Displays
4.1 like 3D/OpenGL overrides requires a retail (not BTO) 9800 Pro card-Mike)
The CD within the RADEON 9800 Pro retail box includes ATI Displays version
4.0. This version adds support for VERSAVISIONŠ and Advanced Display
Options but lacks the new OpenGL ĻOverrides. Support for the new OpenGL
Overrides is available in RADEON 9800 Pro Mac Update 1.1 which should be
available on the ATI.COM web site in July 2003 - at the same time people
will be installing their RADEON 9800 Pro cards.
Info on "3D/OpenGL Overrides" Feature of 4.1 ATI Displays Control Panel: (from the reviewer's guide - requires a retail 9800 Pro card, and will not work with BTO 9800 or older cards currently from what I'm told by ATI.)
3D / OpenGL Overrides
The most versatile and useful features of ATI Displays for game enthusiasts
will likely be the OpenGL Overrides Tab inside the 3D Options Pane. Though
advanced 3D quality features such as Full Scene Anti-Aliasing and
Anisotropic Filtering have been available in one form or another in past ATI
products, game developers have not all taken immediate adoption of these
options, not to mention the impracticality of trying to update older game
titles. This configuration tab puts control of a number of 3D settings
directly in the hands of the game player, even if such options cannot be
modified within a game, or in fact are not even supported by a specific
Note: The new 3D pane and OpenGL Overrides tab is only available to the
public starting with ATI Displays 4.1. This new version is scheduled to be
available in a 1.1 RADEON 9800 Pro Mac Edition software update on the
ATI.COM site around the same time the product is available in retail. The
version included in the RADEON 9800 Pro retail box is 4.0. This Review
Guide is bundled with a Pre-Final version.
With ATI Displays, game players have the ability to define per-title 3D
option profiles as well as option presets that can be used by multiple
titles. All this from an easy to use and easy to understand interface,
representing the first implementation of this profiling scheme (something
not even available from ATI's Windows control panels). The options apply to
titles using OpenGL and include: Full Scene Anti-Aliasing (FSAA),
Anisotropic Filtering (AF), Vertical Sync (VSync) and a composite control in
the form of a Performance slider. Various combinations of options can be set
to tailor the game playing experience between two extremes: force
highest-quality visual settings or force the highest performance possible.
Let's look at the benefits of the design and then discuss the individual
GL Options may set on a per title basis: Not every application will benefit
from the very same settings. In fact, some applications may not be well
suited to specific settings. Different games are also played in different
ways and for different reasons. For example, a fast paced first-person
shooter title would likely benefit from high frame rates during a skirmish
type match, while other games, let's say a Golf game where insane frame
rates are secondary, may benefit from a maximum quality boost. Per-title
settings allow the player to pick how each game is treated or whether
certain options are used at all for individual titles.
GL Option settings may be shared between multiple titles: For the cases
where the same settings are to be used for multiple titles, it can be time
consuming if having to touch settings one at a time. For this reason shared
option presets can be created. Any unique application profile can be saved
to become a shared preset and then this preset can be selected for any other
title. Now when wanting to make changes to multiple games at once, only the
shared preset needs to be adjusted to affect all appropriate games.
Changes made to ATI Displays GL Options take effect immediately: When
tweaking settings it's helpful to quickly see what's changing to evaluate
once choice over another. Having to restart systems or applications takes
time and the changes may not be as easily appreciated. ATI Displays
supports live 3D Option settings. Any changes to a title's GL Options will
take effect immediately - while that title is running. For some full-screen
titles this may be more convenient if the display is set to a windowed mode
to facilitate getting to ATI Displays in the background.
The options are called "Overrides" for a good reason: any setting made in
ATI Displays will override a title's own built-in or preference-based
settings. As mentioned above, this is also true for titles which don't have
native support for the features being set here. Turning on FSAA for
instance means that a given title will display with FSAA, regardless of what
is set in its own prefs or if that application even knows about FSAA. If a
specific game has been programmed to request 4x FSAA, but 6x or "OFF" is
selected in ATI Displays, then only the ATI Displays setting will apply when
running the title.
The overrides can be used in a number of ways:
to turn ON functionality that is either not supported or not enabled by a
to turn OFF functionality that is normally enabled by a title.
left unapplied, causing the game to use its own settings for that feature
Application Profile drop-down menu: This list displays the titles that have
been profiled. Its initial state is empty and is represented by a single
dash "-" character. When multiple titles have been defined, they will be
selected from this list any time they are to be modified.
Add Button: Pressing this button will pop up an Open file dialog. From here
an application should be chosen to define its profile. Its name will appear
in the Application Profile drop-down list.
Remove Button: Pressing this button removes the currently selected
application profile. A warning dialog appears to confirm the deletion.
Browse Button: This button is reserved to enter the advanced management
interface which will be enabled in the next web update.
Preset drop-down menu: This list defines what kind of options are being set
for the above-selected title. By default "Unique Profile" is listed, which
means that any settings made apply only to the specific title listed in the
Application Profile menu. A number of other time-saving entries are also
included in this list:
Disable Profile: This preset means that the override options are disabled
for the selected application. The applications own settings will be used.
This is a useful preset for temporarily disabling custom 3D settings. There
is no need to create "Disabled" profiles for applications that are not to be
used with the overrides - just don't create profiles for any such
High Performance: This preset causes the quality options, including VSync,
to be forced OFF while the performance slider is set to its maximum. Note
that some games will have certain configuration settings that can still be
adjusted to further improve performance - this setting only affects the
override options discussed here. Individual settings cannot be adjusted
while using built-in profiles.
Balanced Settings: Similar to the above, Balanced is another built-in
profile, but it contains settings that are a balance between speed and
quality. FSAA, Anisotropic Filtering and the Performance slider are forced
on and set to a mid level. VSync is set to OFF.
Best Quality: This preset contains pre-defined settings to force the highest
quality display. It sets VSync to ON, and FSAA and Anisotropic Filtering to
The last two entries in the Preset list are Add Preset and Edit Presets. The
Add item creates custom presets and will cause a window to pop up asking for
a preset name. After entering a name, the current settings are saved to a
preset and its name will now appear in the preset list. The Edit item brings
up another window allowing the duplication, deletion and renaming of custom
Options: Performance, FSAA (Multi | Super), Anisotropic Filtering and
Override options are enabled by selecting their respective check-boxes. If
an item is left unchecked it means that option is not being set by ATI
Displays and the application's own default or setting will be used - it does
not mean that feature is being forced "OFF." If the option is checked, it
means the application's own settings will be replaced by whatever is
specified in ATI Displays.
Performance Slider: This option is actually a composite consisting of
numerous settings and tweaks internal to the ATI 3D driver. None of these
modification counter the quality options below and this control may be used
at any time in any combination. Generally, the changes become more
aggressive as the slider is moved to the right and while performance will
increase, there may be a small (minor, might not even be visible) penalty to
visual quality. The specific driver changes of this composite control are
beyond the scope of this guide - and may also be highly secretive - we'd
have to kill you if we told you. :)
FSAA: Full Scene Anti-Aliasing, in simple terms, is used to smooth "jaggies"
in 3D content. This option, unlike the others, features an additional
parameter which controls its method. The choices are between Super-sampling
and Multi-sampling. Super supports up to 4x filtering and Multi up to 6x.
More detailed explanations are available on the pages dealing with Image
Quality. The slider next to this option controls its setting, with a range
from OFF to 6x (for Multi-sampling). This setting provides higher quality,
but at a penalty to over-all speed or frame rate.
Anisotropic Filtering: At its simplest, this technology is used to sharpen
texture details - most notably at oblique angles (floor or wall textures in
the distance that would generally become smeared or distorted). Its range
of settings is from OFF to 16x for the RADEON 9800 Pro. This setting
provides higher quality, but at a penalty to over-all speed or frame rate.
More details of the technology are in the Image Quality section.
Vertical Sync: With only an ON or OFF setting, this option is the easiest to
set and likely the most readily appreciated visually. It causes 3D context
display updates to be in sync with the current refresh rate, preventing
visual tearing (when not in sync, the updates to the 3D view may occur
mid-display which may often produce a visual tear during moments of
fast-paced movement or action). This option will always affect the frame
rate of the application: The maximum frame rate will never be able to go
above the refresh rate (for instance, 60 frames per second for a 60Hz
refresh). This also means that if a game is very demanding and takes even
longer to render a frame, that instead of getting an update during the next
mid-frame, it will have to wait until the next full frame, causing a
momentary dip to 30fps. Running a display at 60Hz, with every frame taking
up only full cycles, it means the following frame rates are possible: 60,
30, 20, 15, 12, 10, etc..
The imaging enhancements offered by ATI Displays' 3D/GL Options are
particularly useful to Mac users for a couple of specific reasons:
Games for Mac OS and Windows are often CPU bound: application performance
for these cases is determined by the speed of the processor, not the by
speed of the graphics hardware. Because of this, enabling options such as
FSAA and Anisotropic Filtering, that would normally degrade graphics
performance, will in fact result in very little frame rate loss. This is
particularly true for the RADEON 9800 when running older games that were not
written with newer, more advanced 3D requirements/features.
FSAA and Anisotropic Filtering are also useful options when having to run
games at lower resolutions. TV output, as well as most Digital Flat Panel
Displays, cannot run the higher resolutions of CRTs. Enabling these quality
features can compensate for the lack of resolution by helping to better
define the quality of the textures and in-game objects. The benefit of the
quality features are quite far-reaching and should offer value to a large
percentage of gaming enthusiasts.
As in life, nothing is ever black and white and there are a number of
potential caveats with certain games. The overrides have been tested with a
large number of current and upcoming titles and notable problems may be
found in the Caveat Addendum (Currently listed GL overrides not compatible with
Cromag Rally, Otto Matic and Spyhunter current versions.)
9800 Pro Mac Edition Related Links:
For comparison tests of the previous Mac 9700 Pro OEM card, see the graphics card section of the Video topics page.