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  ATi Radeon X800 XT, the new King of the Hill? 
  May 04, 2004, 09:00am EDT 

Benchmarks, evaluation

By: Sander Sassen

Unfortunately time did not permit us to run more than the set of benchmarks you see in the previous pages. Each benchmark takes a while to complete and all of them were run three times to rule out any inconsistencies, because we would like to inform you, our reader, to the best of our ability. Weíve run a total of 216 benchmarks the past two days, 108 on each card, and clocked in well over 20 hrs of testing on both the ATi and Nvidia graphics card. So we hope you can see the lengths we go to to ensure we got the numbers right and provide you with useful information about these two new products.

Radeon X800 XT processor

Fig 5. The R420 processor, featuring no less than 160-million transistors, manufactured at TSMC.

Some of the things we didnít touch upon, again due to lack of time, are image quality analysis and a look at the clockspeed headroom both these cards have. But just allow me to comment on those two subjects quickly as we obviously did notice a few things here and there. First of all we noticed that the new 61.11 driver for the GeForce 6800 Ultra affected image quality in Far Cry by no longer slowly fading in far away objects such as grass, trees and mountains, but rather abruptly pop them in and out of view once youíre beyond a certain distance. As for clockspeeds, the GeForce 6800 Ultra certainly had the most headroom available, we could run it at 20-MHz faster without any problems. The same unfortunately cannot be said about the Radeon X800 XT, a 5-MHz increase in clockspeed already resulted in a garbled Windows desktop, which required a restart.

As for the benchmarks those went over without a hitch, we didnít run into any driver issues or anything nor did we see any image quality issues, or at least not something thatís clearly visible. As mentioned further analysis is needed to figure out whether both ATi and Nvidia render all scenes fully and without using shortcuts that adversely affect image quality. What is important to note though is the fact that the ATi drivers are more mature than Nvidiaís, simply because the R420 is based on an older architecture and thus the drivers donít have to be rewritten from the ground up. We expect the performance for the ATi architecture to increase somewhat though when new drivers become available, but we think Nvidia will be able to extract more performance from their drivers as they mature.

1. Introduction
2. Pixel and vertex shaders
3. Benchmarks, what and how?
4. 3Dmark03, 2001 SE and AquaMark3
5. UT2003, AA and AF
6. UT2004, AA and AF
7. Halo, AA and AF
8. Far Cry, AA and AF
9. Benchmarks, evaluation
10. Conclusion
11. Pricing Information

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