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July 2004 3Digest

August 7, 2004








Monthly drivers report and popular 3D
accelerators comparison

Monthly 3D Digest is the project of iXBT.com devoted to releases of new Windows XP (monthly) and Windows 9x/ME (once in 4 months) drivers for popular videocards (released from June 10, 2004 to July 10, 2004). As usual, there are many diagrams containing the information on changes in operation of videocards at change to last version drivers, and also summary diagrams of popular modern videocards performance. Traditionally we provide the best price/performance information for our 3Digest. We also pay much attention to ingame 3D graphics quality.

It's our 50th issue of 3Digest.

July 2004

The summer is at its peak, it's the lull time. A year ago we wrote:

"There were almost none global news this month. As we warned, the vacation season is "at large". Still, new drivers are being released and we test them in our lab."

But this time, it's no lull at all, as various GeForce 6800, X800 XT novelties are leaking to the market. Pity, but unlike the last year the lag between announcements and product availability is rather great.

Besides, NVIDIA has finally released 61.76 WHQL version expected from April 1. Despite these drivers were released on July 21, we included it into this issue.

And patch 1.2 for FarCry let us down. We spent ages to re-test cards with it, but all of a sudden Ubisoft recalled it. No bugs we saw in our demo though, so we included 1.2 results into this issue as well. We also published a separate article dedicated to shaders 3.0 and 2.0b in FarCry 1.2. In this two part material we found out that speeding up games by decreasing number of passes and using a single long lighting shader is possible with shaders 2.0b as well as shaders 3.0.

By the way, DOOM III is finally and officially released.

As for our local news, we established a new PCI-Express testbed to deal with PCX novelties.

Speaking of graphics cards, we found out that NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT and NVIDIA GeForce3 6800 are almost the best in the price/performance ratio.

CONTENTS

  1. Testbed configurations and test software
  2. Tested graphics cards
  3. What's new in 3Digest
  4. Test summary diagrams and digest bottom line
  5. 3D accelerator rating calculations for the end of the month
  6. Anisotropic filtering examination
  7. Examination of different antialiasing modes
  8. Screenshot gallery
  9. Games quality section



1. Testbed configuration



1.1. Pentium 4 3.2GHz-based system:

  • Intel Pentium 4 3.2 GHz (L2=512K) CPU, Hyper-Threading enabled;
  • ASUS P4C800 Deluxe motherboard on i875P chipset;
  • 1 GB DDR SDRAM PC3200;
  • Seagate Barracuda IV 40GB HDD;
  • Quantum FB AS 20GB HDD.

1.2. System on Athlon 64 3200+:

  • AMD Athlon 64 3200+ (L2=1024K);
  • ASUS K8V SE Deluxe motherboard on VIA K8T800;
  • 1 GB DDR SDRAM PC3200;
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 80GB SATA HDD.

1.3. Pentium4 Overclocked 3200 MHz (Prescott) testbed:

  • Intel Pentium4 3600 MHz (225MHz x 16; L2=1024K, LGA775); Hyper-Threading
  • ABIT AA8 DuraMAX motherboard on i925X chipset;
  • 1 GB DDR2 SDRAM 300MHz;
  • WD Caviar SE WD1600JD 160GB SATA HDD.

We also used Windows XP Professional Service Pack 1, DirectX 9.0b, 21" ViewSonic P810 monitor.

The list of benchmarks is here

2. Videocard list

Below is a list of graphics cards that we tested linked to respective 3Digest feature-description pages.

Drivers released by videocard manufacturers are not taken into account (unless written by GPU manufacturers) because there are very many of them and it's impossible to test them all.

3D graphics quality screenshots are provided in our monthly updated Screenshot Gallery.

Cards list:

  1. ATI RADEON 9550 128MB DDR 4ns (250/400 MHz)
  2. ATI RADEON 9550XT 128MB DDR 3.3ns (400/500 MHz)
  3. ATI RADEON 9600 128MB DDR 4ns (325/400 MHz)
  4. ATI RADEON 9600 SE 128MB 64bit DDR 4ns (325/400 MHz)
  5. ATI RADEON 9600 Pro 128MB DDR 2.8ns (400/600 MHz)
  6. ATI RADEON 9600 256MB DDR 5ns (325/400 MHz)
  7. ATI RADEON 9600 XT 128MB DDR 3.3ns (500/600 MHz)
  8. ATI RADEON X600 XT PCX 128MB DDR 2.5ns (500/760 MHz)
  9. ATI RADEON 9600 XT 128MB DDR 2.8ns (525/650 MHz)
  10. ATI RADEON 9800 SE 128MB 128bit DDR 3.3ns (325/540 MHz)
  11. ATI RADEON 9800 SE 128MB DDR 2.8ns (360/680 MHz)
  12. ATI RADEON 9800 128MB DDR 3.3ns (325/580 MHz)
  13. ATI RADEON 9800 Pro 128MB DDR 2.8ns (380/680 MHz)
  14. ATI RADEON 9800 Pro 256MB DDR 2.8ns (380/680 MHz)
  15. ATI RADEON 9800 XT 256MB DDR 2.5ns (412/730 MHz)
  16. ATI RADEON X800 Pro 256MB DDR3 2.0ns (475/890 MHz)
  17. ATI RADEON X800 XT 256MB DDR3 1.6ns (525/1150 MHz)
  18. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 128MB DDR 64bit 6ns (250/333 MHz)
  19. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 128MB DDR 5ns (250/400 MHz)
  20. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5500 128MB DDR 5ns (270/400 MHz)
  21. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 128MB DDR 3.6ns (325/550 MHz)
  22. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 XT 128MB 64bit DDR 4ns (235/400 MHz)
  23. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 XT 128MB 128bit DDR 4ns (235/400 MHz)
  24. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 LE 128MB DDR 5ns (250/400 MHz)
  25. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 128MB DDR 3.6ns (425/550 MHz)
  26. NVIDIA GeForce PCX5750 128MB DDR 3.6ns (425/500 MHz)
  27. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB DDR2 2.2ns (475/900 MHz)
  28. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB DDR3 2.0ns (475/950 MHz)
  29. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 XT 128MB DDR 2.8ns (390/700 MHz)
  30. NVIDIA GeForce PCX5900 128MB DDR 3.6ns (350/550 MHz)
  31. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 128MB DDR 2.2ns (400/850 MHz)
  32. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 Ultra 256MB DDR 2.2ns (450/850 MHz)
  33. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB DDR 2.0ns (475/950 MHz)
  34. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra-GT 256MB DDR 2.0ns (520/950 MHz)
  35. NVIDIA GeForce 6800 128MB DDR 2.8ns (325/700 MHz)
  36. NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT 256MB DDR3 2.0ns (350/1000 MHz)
  37. NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT PCX 256MB DDR3 2.0ns (350/1000 MHz)
  38. NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra 256MB DDR3 1.6ns (425/1100 MHz)
  39. NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra 256MB DDR3 1.6ns (450/1100 MHz)

Archive (videocards, which info is no longer updated)

3. July 2004 news and the current business

  • 3.1. The following drivers were released from June 10, 2004 to July 10, 2004:

    • NVIDIA ForceWare for all NVIDIA cards:

      • Windows XP: 62.11, 62.01, 61.76 (release);


    • ATI Catalyst for all ATI cards:

      • Windows XP: 6.458 (CATALYST 4.7);


    These and other drivers are available for download at drivers.ixbt.com.

  • 3.2. In this issue we used NVIDIA 61.76 (WHQL) and ATI 6.458 (WHQL) drivers for testing.

4. Summary diagrams of graphics cards performance with the latest drivers for July 2004

We recommend you visit either product support websites if you come across any "peculiarities".

Summary diagrams were charted using results obtained on all testbeds, while quality aspects checks and drivers comparison were conducted on AMD Athlon 64 3200+. I guess no more comments needed, readers will easily understand what is what themselves. :)

5. 3D accelerator ratings calculations for the end of the month


Anyone who wants to conduct his own rating calculations with his own values may download this Excel table (Office XP) in RAR 3.0 or ZIP format.

In this issue we calculated prospect and usability ratings based on AMD Athlon 64 3200+ testbed results.

The method of rating calculation is described here.

Calculations were conducted considering the following assumptions:

  1. Windows XP is used;
  2. Percentage of performance and quality demand ratio:
    • Performance priority - 60%
    • Quality priority - 40%

  3. ONLY 1600x1200@32bpp resolution was used for the prospect rating;
  4. Usability ratings are separated into the three sections: High-End, Middle-End, and Low-End. Each rating features its own expenses for system upgrade. All this is considered in APG parameter that is $100 for Low-End, $250 for Middle-End, and $500 for High-End. We believe that if a user wants to purchase a very expensive and powerful accelerator, he understands the inanity of installing it into a Low-End PC. So we separated the usability rating for different PC levels.

Usability rating (rating from the previous 3Digest is in parentheses):

Usability rating: card price + $500

01. NVIDIA GeForce 6800 128MB, 325/700 MHz (03)
02. NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT 256MB, 350/1000 MHz (01)
03. NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra 256MB, 450/1100 MHz (06)
04. NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra 256MB, 400/1100 MHz (05)
05. ATI RADEON X800 PRO 256MB, 475/890 MHz (04)
06. ATI RADEON X800XT 256MB, 525/1150 MHz (02)
07. ATI RADEON 9800 PRO 128MB, 380/680 MHz (07)
08. ATI RADEON 9800 128MB, 325/590 MHz (08)
09. ATI RADEON 9800 PRO 256MB, 380/680 MHz (09)
10. ATI RADEON 9800XT 256MB, 412/730 MHz (10)
11. ATI RADEON 9600XT 128MB, 525/650 MHz (11)
12. ATI RADEON 9600XT 128MB, 500/600 MHz (12)
13. ATI RADEON 9600 PRO 128MB, 400/600 MHz (13)
14. ATI RADEON 9800 SE 128MB 256bit, 380/680 MHz (14)
15. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900XT 128MB, 390/700 MHz (16)
16. ATI RADEON 9550XT 128MB 400/500 MHz (15)
17. ATI RADEON 9600 128MB, 325/400 MHz (17)
18. ATI RADEON 9600 256MB, 325/400 MHz (19)
19. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 128MB, 400/850 MHz (18)
20. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB, 475/900 MHz (20)
21. ATI RADEON 9800 SE 128MB 128bit, 325/540 MHz (21)
22. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB 475/950 MHz DDR3 (22)
23. ATI RADEON 9550 256MB 250/400 MHz (24)
24. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB, 475/950 MHz (23)
25. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra GT 256MB, 520/950 MHz (25)
26. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 128MB, 425/550 MHz (26)
27. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 Ultra 256MB, 450/850 MHz (27)
28. ATI RADEON 9600SE 128MB 64bit, 325/400 MHz (28)
29. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 128MB, 325/550 MHz (29)
30. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700LE 128MB, 250/400 MHz (30)
31. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5500 128MB 270/400 MHz (31)
32. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 128MB, 250/400 MHz (32)
33. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600XT 128MB 128bit, 235/400 MHz (33)
34. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600XT 128MB 64bit, 235/400 MHz (34)
35. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 128MB, 64bit, 250/333 MHz (35)


Usability rating: card price + $250

01. NVIDIA GeForce 6800 128MB, 325/700 MHz (02)
02. NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT 256MB, 350/1000 MHz (03)
03. ATI RADEON 9800 PRO 128MB, 380/680 MHz (01)
04. ATI RADEON 9800 128MB, 325/590 MHz (05)
05. ATI RADEON X800 PRO 256MB, 475/890 MHz (06)
06. NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra 256MB, 450/1100 MHz (08)
07. NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra 256MB, 400/1100 MHz (07)
08. ATI RADEON X800XT 256MB, 525/1150 MHz (04)
09. ATI RADEON 9800 PRO 256MB, 380/680 MHz (09)
10. ATI RADEON 9600XT 128MB, 525/650 MHz (11)
11. ATI RADEON 9600XT 128MB, 500/600 MHz (12)
12. ATI RADEON 9600 PRO 128MB, 400/600 MHz (10)
13. ATI RADEON 9550XT 128MB 400/500 MHz (14)
14. ATI RADEON 9800XT 256MB, 412/730 MHz (13)
15. ATI RADEON 9800 SE 128MB 256bit, 380/680 MHz (16)
16. ATI RADEON 9600 128MB, 325/400 MHz (15)
17. ATI RADEON 9600 256MB, 325/400 MHz (17)
18. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900XT 128MB, 390/700 MHz (18)
19. ATI RADEON 9550 256MB 250/400 MHz (19)
20. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB, 475/900 MHz (20)
21. ATI RADEON 9800 SE 128MB 128bit, 325/540 MHz (21)
22. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 128MB, 425/550 MHz (22)
23. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 128MB, 400/850 MHz (23)
24. ATI RADEON 9600SE 128MB 64bit, 325/400 MHz (24)
25. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB 475/950 MHz DDR3 (25)
26. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 128MB, 325/550 MHz (26)
27. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700LE 128MB, 250/400 MHz (27)
28. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB, 475/950 MHz (28)
29. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 Ultra 256MB, 450/850 MHz (29)
30. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra GT 256MB, 520/950 MHz (30)
31. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 128MB, 250/400 MHz (31)
32. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5500 128MB 270/400 MHz (32)
33. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600XT 128MB 128bit, 235/400 MHz (33)
34. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600XT 128MB 64bit, 235/400 MHz (35)
35. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 128MB, 64bit, 250/333 MHz (34)


Usability rating: card price + $100

01. NVIDIA GeForce 6800 128MB, 325/700 MHz (08)
02. ATI RADEON 9800 128MB, 325/590 MHz (03)
03. ATI RADEON 9800 PRO 128MB, 380/680 MHz (01)
04. ATI RADEON 9600 PRO 128MB, 400/600 MHz (02)
05. ATI RADEON 9600XT 128MB, 525/650 MHz (07)
06. ATI RADEON 9600XT 128MB, 500/600 MHz (06)
07. NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT 256MB, 350/1000 MHz (10)
08. ATI RADEON 9550XT 128MB 400/500 MHz (05)
09. ATI RADEON 9600 128MB, 325/400 MHz (04)
10. ATI RADEON 9550 256MB 250/400 MHz (09)
11. ATI RADEON 9600 256MB, 325/400 MHz (11)
12. ATI RADEON 9800 PRO 256MB, 380/680 MHz (15)
13. ATI RADEON X800 PRO 256MB, 475/890 MHz (14)
14. ATI RADEON 9800 SE 128MB 256bit, 380/680 MHz (12)
15. ATI RADEON 9600SE 128MB 64bit, 325/400 MHz (13)
16. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900XT 128MB, 390/700 MHz (19)
17. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 128MB, 425/550 MHz (17)
18. NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra 256MB, 400/1100 MHz (18)
19. NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra 256MB, 450/1100 MHz (24)
20. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 128MB, 325/550 MHz (22)
21. ATI RADEON 9800 SE 128MB 128bit, 325/540 MHz (20)
22. ATI RADEON X800XT 256MB, 525/1150 MHz (16)
23. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB, 475/900 MHz (21)
24. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700LE 128MB, 250/400 MHz (23)
25. ATI RADEON 9800XT 256MB, 412/730 MHz (25)
26. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 128MB, 250/400 MHz (26)
27. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB 475/950 MHz DDR3 (27)
28. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5500 128MB 270/400 MHz (28)
29. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 128MB, 400/850 MHz (29)
30. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 128MB, 64bit, 250/333 MHz (30)
31. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600XT 128MB 128bit, 235/400 MHz (31)
32. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600XT 128MB 64bit, 235/400 MHz (32)
33. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB, 475/950 MHz (33)
34. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 Ultra 256MB, 450/850 MHz (34)
35. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra GT 256MB, 520/950 MHz (35)

Prospect rating (previous rating is in parenthesis):

01. NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra 256MB, 450/1100 MHz (01)
02. ATI RADEON X800XT 256MB, 525/1150 MHz (04)
03. NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra 256MB, 400/1100 MHz (02)
04. NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT 256MB, 350/1000 MHz (03)
05. ATI RADEON X800 PRO 256MB, 475/890 MHz (06)
06. NVIDIA GeForce 6800 128MB, 325/700 MHz (05)
07. ATI RADEON 9800XT 256MB, 412/730 MHz (07)
08. ATI RADEON 9800 PRO 256MB, 380/680 MHz (08)
09. ATI RADEON 9800 PRO 128MB, 380/680 MHz (09)
10. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra GT 256MB, 520/950 MHz (10)
11. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB, 475/950 MHz (11)
12. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 Ultra 256MB, 450/850 MHz (13)
13. ATI RADEON 9800 128MB, 325/590 MHz (12)
14. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 128MB, 400/850 MHz (14)
15. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900XT 128MB, 390/700 MHz (15)
16. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB, 475/900 MHz (16)
17. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB 475/950 MHz DDR3 (17)
18. ATI RADEON 9600XT 128MB, 525/650 MHz (18)
19. ATI RADEON 9600XT 128MB, 500/600 MHz (19)
20. ATI RADEON 9800 SE 128MB 256bit, 380/680 MHz (20)
21. ATI RADEON 9600 PRO 128MB, 400/600 MHz (21)
22. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 128MB, 425/550 MHz (22)
23. ATI RADEON 9550XT 128MB 400/500 MHz (24)
24. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 128MB, 325/550 MHz (23)
25. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700LE 128MB, 250/400 MHz (25)
26. ATI RADEON 9800 SE 128MB 128bit, 325/540 MHz (26)
27. ATI RADEON 9600 256MB, 325/400 MHz (27)
28. ATI RADEON 9600 128MB, 325/400 MHz (28)
29. ATI RADEON 9550 256MB 250/400 MHz (29)
30. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5500 128MB 270/400 MHz (31)
31. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 128MB, 250/400 MHz (32)
32. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600XT 128MB 128bit, 235/400 MHz (30)
33. ATI RADEON 9600SE 128MB 64bit, 325/400 MHz (33)
34. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600XT 128MB 64bit, 235/400 MHz (34)
35. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 128MB, 64bit, 250/333 MHz (35)


Games quality section



6. Anisotropic filtering examination

Anisotropic filtering examination on the example of Call Of Duty (OpenGL) and Unreal 2: The Awakening (Direct3D), (Windows XP)

7. Antialiasing examination

Antialiasing examination in FarCry (Direct 3D), (Windows XP)

8. Games screenshot gallery

All test screenshots are compiled into a gallery where you can qualify the work of a chosen videocard and compare it to the reference images taken on ATI Radeon 9500. All shots were taken at the same 1024x768 resolution at the maximum quality. Screenshot gallery

9. Games artefacts gallery

Games quality section

We thank all the companies that provided us with graphics cards and other equipment for our 3Digest, including:
HIS (Peter Yueng personally)
Bench'emAll! (Alexander Kondratyuk AKA Render personally for helping is optimize our tests)





Vitaly Milov (black_nqr@yahoo.com)
Danil Gridasov (degust@ixbt.com)








and Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)






07.08.2004


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