Figured I'd ask you guys a refreshing question...

Discussion in '3D Hardware, Software & Output Devices' started by WaltC, Oct 20, 2002.

  1. WaltC

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    This is something that's been annoying me for awhile and up to now I've just forgotten to post about it--actually I did post about it in another forum strictly relating to ATI which some of the ATI people frequent--but I got no takers there...I am asking specifically about what is evidently a Microsoft requirement that refresh rates in Win XP be capped at a miximum of 120Hz...

    Someone else mentioned that here in another thread--he thought it was odd to see the specs for the 9700 listed on the box with a maximum of 120Hz refresh capability. He's right, that is very odd. It's especially odd when you consider that the 9700 has not one but two 400MHz ramdacs, which are far more than enough to generate a maximum of 120Hz in lower resolutions. As I explained in that thread, I have edited the install .inf's for the 9700 so that you can freely select any refresh rate your monitor and the 9700 can do at any given resolution.

    (Editing the current 9700 driver install .inf to do this is child's play. You simply locate the DALRestrictedModesBCD# entries in your driver install .inf and delete them, being careful to leave in the DALNonStandardModesBCD# entries. And then you install the drivers--and bang, all of the refresh rates your setup is capable of become immediately available to you.) Here is the section you need to remove from the 7.78 Catalyst's install .inf(6193's)):

    HKR,, DALRestrictedModesBCD1, %REG_BINARY%,10,24,07,68,00,00,01,50,10,24,07,68,00,00,01,60,10,24,07,
    68,00,00,02,00,12,80,10,24,00,00,01,60,12,80,10,24,00,00,02,00,19,20,1
    0,80,00,00,01,00,19,20,10,80,00,00,01,20,19,20,12,00,00,00,00,85
    HKR,, DALRestrictedModesBCD2, %REG_BINARY%,20,48,15,36,00,00,00,66,18,56,13,92,00,00,00,90,06,40,
    04,80,00,00,01,60,06,40,04,80,00,00,02,00,12,80,09,60,00,00,01,60,12,
    80,09,60,00,00,02,00,18,00,14,40,00,00,00,90,18,00,14,40,00,00,01,00
    HKR,, DALRestrictedModesBCD3, %REG_BINARY%,19,20,14,40,00,00,00,85,19,20,14,40,00,00,01,00,08,00,
    06,00,00,00,01,60,08,00,06,00,00,00,02,00,16,00,12,00,00,00,01,00,16,
    00,12,00,00,00,01,20,17,92,13,44,00,00,00,85,17,92,13,44,00,00,00,90

    HKR,, DALRestrictedModesBCD4, %REG_BINARY%,17,92,13,44,00,00,01,00

    The interesting thing here is that in the 7.76 Catalysts, the DALRestrictedModesBCD# entries have been completely left out of the official ATI install .inf for those drivers, and as such you can install them right from the factory with all of your possible refresh rates intact. The "RestrictedMode" registry entries are found in the 7.77's and the 7.78's. The reason I think this is somehow WinXP-Microsoft related is because I noticed the *exact same thing* in the last nVidia drivers I used prior to moving to the 9700 from my GF4 Ti4600. That is I had to manually edit the install .inf for the 30.82 drivers so that I could get 160Hz refresh in 640x480 and 800x600. The standard nVidia install .inf forces you to a maximum of 120Hz, just like I found to be true with the 9700. The editing of the nVidia drivers was nowhere near as simple as for the ATI drivers, so I won't repeat it--besides that, nVidia has been changing its refresh/resolution format in its driver install .infs for quite some time, and I noticed they changed formats again in the 40.xx detonators (which I tried just before making the switch to ATI), so what I could tell you about the 30.82's is not applicable to the 40.xx's.

    So....the 9700 hardware and even the 350MHz RAMDAC in the Ti4600 is capable of much more than 120Hz maximum refresh. However, without manually editing the driver install .inf for each product prior to driver installation *neither* will support >120Hz under WinXP (it doesn't matter what sort of monitor .inf you use.) In the case of the 9700, my Sony E540 21" FT has a maximum scan rate of 170Hz, 110kHz. After I clip out the offending section in the Catalyst install .inf and install the drivers, I can then select 160Hz at 6x4 and 8x6 with no problem (after that I use RefreshForce to lock the refresh rates in on a per-resolution basis.)

    What's going on here--I mean, WHY would ATI take these limited refresh rates and actually put them on the product box for the 9700--as if 120Hz was the maximum refresh rate possible for the 9700 hardware? A 400MHz RAMDAC should easily be able to display > 200Hz refresh at some resolutions given the right monitor. So why artificially and arbitrarily limit your refresh to 120Hz when that is actually not the limit of your hardware? Since nVidia's doing the same thing I see no other conclusion except that both companies are doing this as a requirement for WHQL certification. But, again, why? Surely, the refresh rate of a given videocard is utterly transparent to the OS, right? Why should the OS care if a resolution refreshes at 60Hz or at 160Hz?

    Yet, something to do with Microsoft is the only reason I can come up with for ATI and nVidia doing this. ANY thoughts or comments on the matter would be greatly appreciated as I have been perplexed about this for quite awhile (and don't much like having to edit driver install .infs every time I install a new driver, even though it is very easy with the ATI Catalysts.)
     
  2. Ichneumon

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    With years of experience picking about ATI's drivers, the one thing that I can tell you is that you can never figure out ATI's reason for doing most things in their drivers.

    The Catalyst releases at least s*somewhat* standardized their naming (they STill change them around and values all the time). Before that you would get enable this, disable that, DisEnable this...

    I've never been able to get an answer from ATI why they specifically went out of their way to make 1280x960 not work on their cards... the didn't just not add it as supported, they made a special registry key that made sure that it woudln't work even if you enabled it...

    Before trying to second guess ATI, your best bet is to wait until their next driver release and see how they change things yet again.
     
  3. Pete

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    Walt, those registry entry widths are going to wreak havoc with this thread's layout. Maybe enter them as code, or break them in half to avoid making people with less than 1600x1200 resolution scroll excessively.

    As for why they limit their refresh rates? Probably to avoid incurring the service costs for people who wrecked their older or cheaper monitor by running it at 200Hz. Maybe the same reason why they eliminated 1280x960--b/c they figured more people will use SXGA LCD's than will want a correct aspect ratio on their CRT's. It's still annoying, I agree. They could always add an "Expert" switch to enable those two options (higher refresh rates, more resolutions).
     
  4. Bambers

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    First step for me after installing new drivers (8500) has been to open the registry and wipe every restrictedmodes entry to get 1280x960 for quite a while now. :-?
     
  5. WaltC

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    Fixed. I didn't realize it at the time. Thanks for pointing it out.

    By removing the restricted modes from the install .inf prior to installation, you can get 1280x960 easily (I'm refreshing it 100Hz.) It's puzzling as to why they didn't restrict them in the 7.76 catalysts, but have in all succeeding versions (making it necessary to take out the restricted modes prior to installing drivers.)

    The reason I don't quite believe the service end of it here is because as I stated nVidia is doing the same thing now! You have to edit their Detonator install .infs to get > than 120Hz in their drivers, too! The only common denominator I can figure here is WinXP. But as to *why*? Lord only knows....;)
     
  6. WaltC

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    Well, the 9700 is the first ATI product I've owned in a long, long time--way back since Matrox Millennium 2D days...;) (Although I did try a Rage Fury a few years ago which I returned.) This is probably the *best* 3D product I've ever owned, as well.

    Anyway, just coming from a GF4 Ti4600, I wasn't that familiar with ATI's registry routines (nVidia's are inscrutable these days--they constantly keep changing the refresh/resolution install .inf format.) But the funny thing I've noticed here with regard to the 120Hz cap is that nVidia's doing it too! I've had to edit their install .infs for quite awhile in order to get what I wanted, too.

    My first driver set with the 9700's was actually the 7.76's (As I installed them immediately after the CD drivers before checking out the card when I first bought it.) I was very relieved to see that ATI was at least letting me choose my own refresh rates under WinXP....Heh-Heh...until the 7.77's emerged, and they did it again with the 7.78's...;)

    I just think it's a shame why we can't discover *why* they are doing this, as nVidia's doing it, too, relative to WinXP. I think the Win9x drivers work as usual and you can pick your refresh rates there without a problem. What's so different about XP? Is Microsoft refusing to certify anything over 120Hz under XP? That's the only thing I can think of. However, note that nVidia has always said it doesn't include a vsync control standard with its D3d drivers (have to enable coolbits to get it) because of the certification process. However, ATI has no problem getting drivers certified with D3d vsync controls. Go figure. It's just very strange to see both companies doing this without so much as a hint as to why.
     
  7. GraphixViolence

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    WaltC, I don't know the answer to your question, but I have to ask... why is it important to have display modes with > 120Hz refresh? To my eyes anything at 85Hz and up looks rock solid, and I spend a lot of time staring at CRTs. Can you really see a difference between 120 Hz and 200 Hz?
     
  8. WaltC

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    Heh-Heh...there's even a dword registry setting in the install .inf that is "DISPLAYSRESTRICTMODES"=0 (or 1, presumably) which you would think would mean it can override the restricted modes. It doesn't , of course...;)

    If you're using any driver release besides the 7.76's, you can simply open the install .inf and delete the restrictedmode entries, reinstall the drivers, reboot, and you'll have your 1280x960 (which I run at 100Hz.) With the 7.76's--which coincidentally are the only ones ATI officially supports on the website for the 9700--you don't have to worry about it, as the restricted modes are entirely missing from the install .inf on those drivers...;)

    Agreed, very strange. As I've asked the other guys, though, I wonder why both ATI and nVidia are capping the XP refresh rate artificially at 120Hz? As I see it, it has to be some sort of goofy Microsoft restriciton pertinent to driver certification which nobody can fathom.

    I really wish someone could find out what's going on with this...
     
  9. OpenGL guy

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    Thanks for pointing this out. I requested that 1280x960 be supported before the Radeon 9700 release for game compatibility, and it looks like I was listened to, but apparently someone forgot and removed the modes again! :cry:

    I'll see what I can do...

    Edit: I don't see the problem with the drivers I am using. I checked the INI files and the Radeon 9700 *should not* have any restricted mode registry entries. Please let me know if I am mistaken.
     
  10. Tagrineth

    Tagrineth SNAKES... ON A PLANE
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    I was just thinking, what about bandwidth?

    I mean, actual signal bandwidth, across the low-pass filter and VGA cable.

    I can thus understand nVidia capping the refresh rate - maybe they're making sure that users can't access refresh rates that would break the VGA bandwidth on some lower-quality PCB's.

    ATi might be worried that someone'll try >120Hz at 1600x1200 or something, which would definitely break bandwidth.

    Oh well, just trying to think of a scapegoat other than MS (you people DO know they don't cause every PC-related problem in existence, right?)
     
  11. WaltC

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    UH, oh...;) This is one of *those* questions.... :D

    Well, for starters, some people might not think 120fps is enough in a given 3D game, and they also might not like some of the artifacts associated with vsync off. Let's don't make value judgments here as to what people *should* like or not...let's look at it another way.

    Under Win9x, this was never a problem. The end user was free to pick his refresh rate no matter what it was, up to the limits of his hardware. Why should it suddenly become a problem in XP? That's the real question.

    Another answer here is that individuals have different eyes. Where one may see something "rock solid" at 85Hz, another person may see a flicker. Too, monitors vary, some are short persistence , some medium persisitence (but very few are long persistence because that's just too much ghosting completely--had a long persistence years ago--never again.) Anyway, this is also why some people might see flicker where other people see "rock solid."

    Believe it or not--I can see a bit of flicker at 120Hz with this monitor at the lower resolutions--like 8x6 and 6x4 where the pixels are fewer and spaced farther apart on my 21" screen. At higher resolutions refresh of 120Hz or less (always > 60Hz, though) is fine. I don't think it's the monitor, I think it's my eyes. (When the screen is near black and there's a bright, high-contrast object on it like the moon, for instance, and I pan the camera around I get pretty good smearing and trails--so I think my monitor is of the longer persistence variety.)

    Aside from all of these factors, if the hardware you buy advertises a 400MHz RAMDAC, not one but two, it seems to me I have a right to expect higher possible refresh rates with such a product, based merely on appreciation of the hardware specs. In this case the hardware is undeniably there because all I have to do is unbind ATI's (or nVidia's) crippled install .inf registry settings--and presto chango--the power of my 400MHz RAMDAC is revealed (or nVidia's 350MHz RAMDAC), and I can get good use out of the 110kHz, 170Hz 21" monitor I bought. I could have bought a much cheaper 21" monitor that would have tolerated fewer KHz and Hz, but I didn't. I could have bought a really cheap graphics card with a much < 400MHz RAMDAC, but I didn't. So I think I'm entitled to the refresh rates I want within the bounds of my hardware for my own reasons which require no justification, don't you agree?

    The hardware's not the problem, and for me the software is not the problem (because I edit the driver install .infs prior to installation), so I can fully get the value of the RAMDAC and monitor I paid for. My question is why are these companies capping the WinXP refresh at 120Hz when such caps have not routinely existed before (certainly not in Win9x)?

    That's my question. But the question you have I think is better directed toward the graphics card companies and monitor companies who build equipment capable of operating at refresh rates way above 120Hz. I'll bet that some of the reasons they'll give you as to why they do will be similar to my own.
     
  12. WaltC

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    OpenGL guy--thanks so much for checking into this.

    Yep, the 7.76's have no restrictedmodes in the driver install .infs to worry about--those are fine.

    But the 7.77's and the 7.78's have them in abundance--the entries in my original post are from the install .inf of one of those two driver sets (again both have them.)

    Although they are a snap to delete prior to driver installation, it would of course still be better to see them taken out of the drivers completely, as you say--just eliminating that particular step altogether.

    If you can talk to a driver programmer--please ask him why they are doing that--I'm just curious. Even the 9700 Built-By-ATI box lists 120Hz as the maximum refresh--of course it's not, as the information in the restrictedmode entries I posted originally plainly shows. (As does the fact that getting 160Hz refresh rates myself in 6x4 and 8x6 is no problem.)

    I swear I think this is something with Microsoft's certification process behind it--but cannot at all imagine what it might be or why. Your indulgence here would be much appreciated. Thanks!... 8)
     
  13. OpenGL guy

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    Here's what I see in the .inf file:
    "RADEON 9700/9500 SERIES" = ati2mtag_R300

    Under ati2mtag_R300, there are no entries for RestrictedModes. Is this not the case with the drivers you are using?
     
  14. Dave Baumann

    Dave Baumann Gamerscore Wh...
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    Ummm, should that be posted??
     
  15. OpenGL guy

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    It's in the 6193 driver that ATi posted. I am confused...

    P.S. I extracted the files from the 6193 driver and I see the .inf file is incorrect... I'll let the appropriate people know.

    Edit: Yep, I was confused... the .inf file looks okay to me after a closer inspection. Can someone please post the lines from the .inf that are causing their problems?

    P.P.S. Stop confusing me! ;)
     
  16. OpenGL guy

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    It's been been brought to my attention that I may have been confusing people. I was talking about 1280x960 (and also 1600x1024) support on the Radeon 9700. I don't know anything about refresh rates.

    Sorry for any confusion.
     
  17. Dave Baumann

    Dave Baumann Gamerscore Wh...
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    All I was talking about was the line in the .inf that apparantly confirms everyones suspicions that 9500 is indeed using the R300 core - I wondered if that was actually public information or not. :)
     
  18. Entropy

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    OpenGL guy made no statement to that effect. He merely quoted a description line from the driver in another context. What YOU are stating openly however.....

    Entropy
     
  19. Dave Baumann

    Dave Baumann Gamerscore Wh...
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    Note the use of the word apparantly.

    My point being is that driver string makes it fairly obvious. Normally these things are removed from public release drivers, however given OGL Guys position its possibly very easy for him to have picked up settings from from a non-public inf file. I say this, because if the string is in release drivers I'm surprised we've not heard about it before.
     
  20. OpenGL guy

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    As I stated, I got the string from the 6193 driver that ATi posted for the Radeon 9700. No mystery here.
     

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