Gaming on Windows Vista – ATI versus NVIDIA

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Final Thoughts and Conclusions

In all honesty I’m not impressed by gaming performance on Vista RC1 from what I’ve seen so far.  I’m also a little shocked that ATI sent out a press release in which they quoted an employee saying “ATI continues to introduce shipping-caliber drivers for Windows Vista that improve on the stability, performance and feature set of versions past”.  I beg to differ with this comment as the latest ATI driver didn’t work for us on our test system.  Maybe it was the NForce 590SLI chipset’s fault or the humidity that is common in Missouri that caused the issues, but whatever the cause it doesn’t matter when it comes  “shipping-caliber drivers” not to mention that if these are shipping-caliber drivers where is the support for Crossfire? All of the games that we tried playing, over 12 titles in all, were retail games that we purchased with the most recent patches. In case you are wondering about pirated versions working on Vista we don’t know because ours were legit.

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It’s clear that ATI and NVIDIA have come leaps and bounds in recent months with their drivers and they both still have a way to go as rumor has it that Microsoft plans to finalize Windows Vista’s code by October 25 and ship a volume licensed version of the product (Windows Vista Enterprise) to its business customers by the end of November. It then plans to ship the other Vista product versions with both new PCs and in retail stores by the end of January 2007. If Microsoft stays on track with their due dates there is a ton of work needs to be done over the next month and a half to get everything up to par.

If you do want to try out some gaming on Vista RC1 then your best bet is to use an NVIDIA graphics card as it just worked on more games without issues than ATI graphics cards.  If you are looking for a game that has a minimal performance difference between XP Professional and Vista then playing Call of Duty 2 with an ATI graphics card was the best choice.  Hopefully by the time Vista launches to home users these bugs will all be worked out and all games will be within five percent of each operating system, but that might be asking too much.

The purpose of this article was to see how the drivers from ATI and NVIDIA are doing and they are coming along.  Neither are what we would call shipping-caliber as both companies lack a ton of features.  The NVIDIA drivers don’t offer overclocking, GPU temperature monitoring, SLI graphics and many other features that I would call required.  I’m a gamer and if my games play ~30% faster on XP Professional then you wont see me switch operating systems till the DirectX 10 titles come rolling out.

Right now we only advise those with an extra hard drive sitting around to try out Windows Vista RC1 and we hope that by RC2 that we will see improved gaming performance and more games working correctly on Windows Vista! Neither ATI or NVIDIA drivers are perfect, but luckily for them they still have time to fix these issues. 

We didn’t mean to rip on NVIDIA or ATI during this article and hopefully after they read this it might help them fix find and fix of the bugs that we expierenced.  Both companies are cranking out the drivers for Vista and that is what counts. Bring on Vista RC2 and new video card drivers! The gaming community is ready.

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