Okay, so it’s not March anymore, but ATI’s just-recently-released
March 2002 ATI Retail Update for Mac OS offers some improvements for users of ATI’s retail cards.
The drivers support old and new ATI retail cards, going all the way back to RAGE 128-based graphics cards like the RAGE Orion, XClaim VR 128 and Nexus 128, and all the way forward to the Radeon 8500 Mac Edition, which just began to see retail store shelves a week ago or so.
ATI does not offer much detail about what has improved with these drivers, but it notes that the software requires Mac OS 9.2.1 or higher; OpenGL 1.2.2; and QuickTime 5. Mac OS X 10.1 is also supported.
ATI has had a long-standing relationship with Apple as the OEM manufacturer of various graphics subsystems used on a variety of Macintosh models. Bear in mind, however, that Apple supports factory-installed hardware with its own driver releases. As a result, these drivers are being offered for ATI’s retail products specifically.
If you’re wondering how these new drivers change things, Inside Mac Games may been a good resource to check with. The popular Mac game news and info site got an early crack at these same drivers for a recent comparison between ATI’s Radeon 7500 and Nvidia’s GeForce4 MX — two configure-to-order options now offered in Apple’s Power Mac G4. The feature is called
Radeon 7500 vs. GeForce4 MX.
ING reviewer Lucian Fong indicated that performance boosts in Quake III Arena were “impressive to say the least” — 30 to 60 percent increases in frame rates were noted, depending on resolution. Fong also suggested that users of ATI’s original Radeon Mac Edition card would see distinct benefits. Unreal Tournament did not show the same level of improvement, but offered “still noticeable” performance increases with the new drivers. (Visit Page 3 of IMG’s Radeon 7500 vs. GeForce4 MX feature for details.)