|"ATi's drivers are just about the worst in the industry"|
To the best of my knowledge, ATI has never put out a driver that actually damages cards:
nvidia driver 196.75 kills cards
"still recommend that i find a new driver??"
The problem is you're running the AGP version of a "modern card". ATI has put out a hot fix that's availabe at their website:
Others have suggested trying the ATI Omega drivers:
How to troubleshoot video card problems