So what advantages does the buyer gain from the CCC? Primarily, the answer is greater ease of use, more gimmicks such as the real-time 3D preview and a much better visual appearance, thanks to skins and animations. Less experienced users will have an easier time setting their card to their liking and are kept up to date through the driver's welcome page. Of course the CCC changes nothing about a card's 3D feature set or its performance. It is still only a front end for setting driver options - nothing more, nothing less. However, we found the performance of the new driver menu slightly disappointing. In our beta version of the CCC, accessing the menu for the video settings often resulted in a delay that lasted several seconds and would block the rest of the system. Another downside is the enormous size of the menus. To give you an impression of what we mean: At a resolution of 800x600, the menus don't fit onto the screen anymore.
For the modding community, the new CCC offers a wide range of new possibilities for integrating extensions directly into the driver. ATi has announced that it intends to regularly present the best extensions on their website and offer them for download. That's indeed a whole new world for graphics enthusiasts - company-endorsed third-party add-ons. We would have liked to see separate real-time previews for FSAA and AF, but we're sure the community will have quite a few contributions of their own.
The fact that the CCC requires Microsoft's .NET does leave a bitter taste in our mouths, though. However, if you're not quite ready to take that step you'll still have the choice of using the old driver menus for a while. So far, ATi has not commented on how long it will continue to offer both versions.
In principle, the danger of getting infected by a virus, a Trojan horse spyware by downloading a CCC extension isn't any bigger than before, since this is a risk that every user consciously takes whenever downloading anything. On the other hand, such a "Catalyst Virus" scare could become a real marketing problem for ATi.
With its new CCC, ATi is trying to make itself more attractive to card makers. They are finally given a way to give their products a CI and to improve the contact with their customers. Larger companies will surely be happy to make use of these possibilities.