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3Digest: January 2006

February 1, 2006



Monthly drivers report and popular 3D
accelerators comparison

Monthy 3Digest is the project of iXBT.com and Digit-Life.com dedicated to informing you about the performance of a large number of graphics cards under Windows XP in the past month.

This issue is dedicated to drivers released from the 15th of December 2005 to the 15th of January 2006. Traditionally our 3Digest informs you about the best price/performance ratios available in the market. Another very important part of any issue is cards' 3D graphics quality shown on the example of a wide selection of games.

It's our 68th issue of 3Digest.

January 2006

This issue is dedicated to benchmarking in 3DMark06 and RightMark3D (SM 2.0b/3.0)

PLEASE NOTE! For this issue we tested only PCI-E graphics cards! The AGP-based benchmarks are provided in the November 2005 issue!

CONTENTS

  1. Testbed configurations and test software
  2. Tested videocards list
  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. Screenshot gallery
  7. Game Quality Section
  8. Game Quality Control Section



1. Testbed configuration



  • System on Athlon 64 (939Socket)
    • AMD Athlon 64 4000+ CPU (L2=1024K);
    • ASUS A8N32 SLI Deluxe motherboard on NVIDIA nForce4 SLI X16. To test ATI CrossFire we used ASUS A8R-MVP motherboard on ATI RADEON Xpress 200 CrossFire.
    • 2 GB DDR SDRAM 400MHz (CAS (tCL)=2.5; RAS to CAS delay (tRCD)=3; Row Precharge (tRP)=3; tRAS=6);
    • WD Caviar SE WD1600JD 160GB SATA HDD.

Testbeds had Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2, DirectX 9.0c installed. IIYAMA Vision Master Pro 514 (22") monitor was used.

The list of benchmarks is here.

2. Graphics card list

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

You can see the quality of 3D graphics produced by tested cards in our monthly updated Screenshot gallery.

Card list:

  1. PCI-E-ATI RADEON X550 256MB DDR 4ns (400/500 MHz)
  2. PCI-E-ATI RADEON X550 XT 128MB GDDR3 2.0ns (400/900 MHz)
  3. PCI-E-ATI RADEON X600 PRO 128MB DDR 3.3ns (400/600 MHz)
  4. PCI-E-ATI RADEON X1300 256MB DDR 2.8ns (450/550 MHz)
  5. PCI-E-ATI RADEON X1300 PRO 256MB DDR 2.5ns (600/800 MHz)
  6. PCI-E-ATI RADEON X700 256MB DDR 2.8ns (400/700 MHz)
  7. PCI-E-ATI RADEON X700 PRO 256MB GDDR3 2.0ns (425/860 MHz)
  8. PCI-E-ATI RADEON X1600 PRO 256MB DDR 2.0ns (500/900 MHz)
  9. PCI-E-ATI RADEON X1600 XT 256MB DDR 1.26ns (590/1380 MHz)
  10. PCI-E-ATI RADEON X800 GT 256MB GDDR3 2.0ns (475/990 MHz)
  11. PCI-E-ATI RADEON X800 128MB DDR 2.8ns (400/700 MHz)
  12. PCI-E-ATI RADEON X800 GTO 256MB GDDR3 2.0ns (400/990 MHz)
  13. PCI-E-ATI RADEON X800 XL 256MB GDDR3 2.0ns (400/990 MHz)
  14. PCI-E-ATI RADEON X800 XL 512MB GDDR3 2.0ns (400/990 MHz)
  15. PCI-E-ATI RADEON X850 XT 256MB GDDR3 1.6ns (520/1080 MHz)
  16. PCI-E-ATI RADEON X850 XT PE 256MB GDDR3 1.6ns (540/1180 MHz)
  17. PCI-E-ATI RADEON X1800 XT 512MB GDDR3 1.26ns (625/1500 MHz)
  18. PCI-E-ATI RADEON X1800 XT PE 512MB GDDR3 1.26ns (700/1600 MHz)
  19. PCI-E-ATI RADEON X1800 XL 256MB GDDR3 1.4ns (500/1000 MHz)
  20. PCI-E-ATI RADEON X1900 XT 512MB GDDR3 1.26ns (650/1550 MHz)
  21. PCI-E-ATI RADEON X1900 XTX 512MB GDDR3 1.1ns (625/1450 MHz)
  22. PCI-E-ATI RADEON X1900 XT CrossFire 2x512MB GDDR3 1.26ns (2x625/1450 MHz)
  23. PCI-E-NVIDIA GeForce 6600LE 128MB DDR 3.6ns (300/550 MHz)
  24. PCI-E-NVIDIA GeForce 6600 128MB DDR 3.6ns (300/550 MHz)
  25. PCI-E-NVIDIA GeForce 6600 512MB DDR2 3.8ns (300/550 MHz)
  26. PCI-E-NVIDIA GeForce 6600 256MB DDR2 2.5ns (350/800 MHz)
  27. PCI-E-NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT 128MB GDDR3 2.0ns (500/1000 MHz)
  28. PCI-E-NVIDIA GeForce 6800 256MB DDR 2.8ns (350/600 MHz)
  29. PCI-E-NVIDIA GeForce 6800 XT 256MB GDDR3 2.0ns (425/1000 MHz)
  30. PCI-E-NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GS 256MB GDDR3 2.0ns (425/1000 MHz)
  31. PCI-E-NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT 256MB GDDR3 2.0ns (350/1000 MHz)
  32. PCI-E-NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra 256MB GDDR3 1.6ns (425/1100 MHz)
  33. PCI-E-NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT 256MB GDDR3 2.0ns (400/1000 MHz)
  34. PCI-E-NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT 256MB GDDR3 2.0ns (450/1100 MHz)
  35. PCI-E-NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX 256MB GDDR3 1.6ns (430/1200 MHz)
  36. PCI-E-NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX 256MB GDDR3 1.6ns (459/1300 MHz)
  37. PCI-E-NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX 256MB GDDR3 1.6ns (486/1350 MHz)
  38. PCI-E-NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT SLI 2x256MB DDR3 2.0ns (2x400/1000 MHz)
  39. PCI-E-NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX SLI 2x256MB DDR3 1.6ns (2x486/1350 MHz)
  40. PCI-E-NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX 512MB GDDR3 1.1ns (550/1700 MHz)
  41. PCI-E-NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX 512MB GDDR3 1.1ns (580/1760 MHz)
  42. PCI-E-NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX SLI 2x512MB DDR3 1.1ns (2x580/1760 MHz)

Archive (videocards, which info is no longer updated)

3. January 2006 news and current business

Added a number of new graphics cards (marked "NEW").

Upgraded the testbed with an NForce4 SLI X16 based motherboard.

  • 3.1. The following drivers were released from December 15, 2005 to January 15, 2006:

    • NVIDIA ForceWare for all NVIDIA-based cards:

      • Windows XP: 81.98 WHQL, 82.65 WHQL (unofficial);


    • ATI Catalyst for all ATI-based cards:

      • Windows XP: CATALYST 5.13beta (for X1900 series), 6.1



  • 3.2. In this issue we used NVIDIA 81.98 and ATI 5.13beta, 6.1 drivers for building summary charts.

4. Summary charts of graphics cards performance with the latest drivers available at the moment of testing in January 2006.

  • 4.1. 3DMark 06, Shader Model 2.0 MARKS



  • 4.2. 3DMark 06, Shader Model 3.0 MARKS



  • 4.3. RightMark3D, Shader Model 3.0, Procedural Fur



  • 4.4. RightMark3D, Shader Model 3.0, Lighting Parallax Mapping



  • 4.5. RightMark3D, Shader Model 2.0b, Frozen Glass (FP32/FP16)



  • 4.6. RightMark3D, Shader Model 2.0b, Lighting Parallax Mapping (FP32/FP16)



  • 4.7. Archive (information from the previous 3Digests absent in this issue)

  • 4.8 Notes on graphics cards performance with the latest drivers:

    • If a particular card is not in the summary, i.e. its results are either 0, or 1, it means the given benchmark hasn't work or has worked incorrectly with this card.
    • Shader Model 3.0 based RightMark3D benchmarks indicated the obvious advantage of ATI's latest graphics card generation. But you should note benchmark's incorrect performance on X1600 series that resulted in results almost equal to X1300 series' that has 3 times fewer pixel pipelines.
    • But similarly complex Shader Model 2.0b tests demonstrated a different picture. First, it was obvious that FP32/FP16 played a significant role in NVIDIA cards' performance and no role in ATI cards' performance (since it wasn't supported). Second, the performance distribution was less harsh for NVIDIA-based cards.
    • We could clearly see that NVIDIA cards received lower ratings due to incapability of driving HDR along with AA. NVIDIA's GPUs failed all 3DMark06's Shader Model 3.0 tests in the AA+AF mode with enabled HDR.

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

    The calculations were conducted on the basis of existing game benchmark data obtained in the issue of December 2005, excluding the new tests of 3DMark06 (ATI CATALYST 6.1, NVIDIA ForceWare 81.98) and RADEON X1900 tests with 5.13beta drivers.


    All willing to conduct his own rating calculations with his own values are invited to download this Excel XP table in RAR 3.0 or ZIP format.

    The method of rating calculation is described here.

    Calculations were conducted considering the following assumptions:

    1. Percentage of performance and quality demand ratio:
      • performance priority - 60%
      • quality priority - 40%

    2. ONLY 1600x1200@32bpp resolution was used for the prospect rating;
    3. The usability rating indicates performance and features of a card (numerator) related to its price (denominator).

    1. Athlon 64 4000+ platforms:

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

      Usability rating

      01. RADEON X1600 PRO 256MB 500/800
      1911
      1002
      144
      (02)
      02. RADEON X1300 PRO 256MB, 600/800
      1764
      901
      107
      (04)
      03. RADEON X1600 XT 256MB 590/1380
      1711
      1099
      192
      (01)
      04. RADEON X1900 XT 512MB 625/1450
      1573
      1551
      600
      (--)
      05. RADEON X1800 XL 256MB 500/1000
      1507
      1299
      385
      (14)
      06. RADEON X1300 256MB, 450/550
      1446
      800
      93
      (10)
      07. RADEON X1800 XT 512MB 625/1500
      1436
      1436
      540
      (15)
      08. RADEON X1900 XTX 512MB 650/1550
      1404
      1573
      700
      (--)
      09. GeForce 6600 DDR2 256MB 350/800 PCI-E
      1346
      799
      105
      (03)
      10. GeForce 6800 GS 256MB 425/1000 PCI-E
      1208
      1019
      236
      (05)
      11. RADEON X1800 XT PE 512MB 700/1600
      1179
      1475
      705
      (25)
      12. GeForce 6800XT 256MB 425/1000 PCI-E
      1155
      940
      197
      (06)
      13. GeForce 6800 256MB 350/600 PCI-E
      1027
      941
      220
      (13)
      14. GeForce 7800GT 256MB, 450/1100
      1025
      1210
      450
      (09)
      15. GeForce 7800GT 256MB, 400/1000
      990
      1172
      412
      (11)
      16. RADEON X1900 XT CF 2x512MB 625/1450
      987
      1748
      1300
      (--)
      17. GeForce 7800GTX 256MB, 459/1300
      910
      1244
      546
      (16)
      18. GeForce 7800GTX 256MB, 430/1200
      892
      1223
      535
      (20)
      19. GeForce 7800GTX 256MB, 486/1350
      876
      1264
      595
      (19)
      20. GeForce 6800 Ultra 256MB 425/1100 PCI-E
      828
      1064
      384
      (27)
      21. GeForce 6800 GT 256MB 350/1000 PCI-E
      827
      1013
      340
      (26)
      22. GeForce 7800GT SLI 2x256MB, 400/1000
      793
      1374
      824
      (28)
      23. GeForce 6600 128MB 300/550 PCI-E
      756
      520
      96
      (12)
      24. GeForce 6600GT 128MB 500/1000 PCI-E
      755
      588
      148
      (07)
      25. GeForce 6600 DDR2 512MB 300/550 PCI-E
      690
      531
      111
      (08)
      26. GeForce 7800GTX 512MB, 580/1760
      683
      1321
      860
      (33)
      27. GeForce 7800GTX 512MB, 550/1700
      673
      1305
      848
      (34)
      28. RADEON X550 256MB, 400/500
      635
      502
      65
      (31)
      29. GeForce 7800GTX SLI 2x256MB, 486/1350
      597
      1423
      1190
      (35)
      30. RADEON X800GTO 256MB 400/990 PCI-E
      596
      721
      185
      (17)
      31. GeForce 6600LE 128MB 300/550 PCI-E
      592
      464
      80
      (30)
      32. RADEON X550 XT 128MB, 400/900
      576
      536
      74
      (32)
      33. RADEON X700 PRO 256MB 425/860 PCI-E
      570
      640
      126
      (18)
      34. RADEON X700 256MB 400/700 PCI-E
      558
      614
      114
      (21)
      35. RADEON X800 128MB 400/700 PCI-E
      534
      673
      155
      (24)
      36. RADEON X800 GT 256MB 475/990 PCI-E
      491
      689
      182
      (22)
      37. RADEON X850 XT 256MB 520/1080 PCI-E
      465
      805
      295
      (23)
      38. RADEON X800 XL 256MB 400/990 PCI-E
      464
      768
      259
      (29)
      39. RADEON X600 PRO 128MB, 400/600
      457
      520
      85
      (39)
      40. GeForce 7800GTX SLI 2x512MB, 580/1760
      449
      1474
      1720
      (38)
      41. RADEON X850 XT PE 256MB 540/1180 PCI-E
      446
      817
      320
      (36)
      42. RADEON X800 XL 512MB 400/990 PCI-E
      408
      772
      330
      (37)

      Prospect rating (the previous rating is in parenthesis):

      01. RADEON X1900 XT CF 2x512MB 625/1450
      987
      1748
      1300
      (--)
      02. RADEON X1900 XTX 512MB 650/1550
      1404
      1573
      700
      (--)
      03. RADEON X1900 XT 512MB 625/1450
      1573
      1551
      600
      (--)
      04. RADEON X1800 XT PE 512MB 700/1600
      1179
      1475
      705
      (06)
      05. GeForce 7800GTX SLI 2x512MB, 580/1760
      449
      1474
      1720
      (01)
      06. RADEON X1800 XT 512MB 625/1500
      1436
      1436
      540
      (07)
      07. GeForce 7800GTX SLI 2x256MB, 486/1350
      597
      1423
      1190
      (02)
      08. GeForce 7800GT SLI 2x256MB, 400/1000
      793
      1374
      824
      (03)
      09. GeForce 7800GTX 512MB, 580/1760
      683
      1321
      860
      (04)
      10. GeForce 7800GTX 512MB, 550/1700
      673
      1305
      848
      (05)
      11. RADEON X1800 XL 256MB 500/1000
      1507
      1299
      385
      (13)
      12. GeForce 7800GTX 256MB, 486/1350
      876
      1264
      595
      (08)
      13. GeForce 7800GTX 256MB, 459/1300
      910
      1244
      546
      (09)
      14. GeForce 7800GTX 256MB, 430/1200
      892
      1223
      535
      (10)
      15. GeForce 7800GT 256MB, 450/1100
      1025
      1210
      450
      (11)
      16. GeForce 7800GT 256MB, 400/1000
      990
      1172
      412
      (12)
      17. RADEON X1600 XT 256MB 590/1380
      1711
      1099
      192
      (19)
      18. GeForce 6800 Ultra 256MB 425/1100 PCI-E
      828
      1064
      384
      (14)
      19. GeForce 6800 GS 256MB 425/1000 PCI-E
      1208
      1019
      236
      (15)
      20. GeForce 6800 GT 256MB 350/1000 PCI-E
      827
      1013
      340
      (16)
      21. RADEON X1600 PRO 256MB 500/800
      1911
      1002
      144
      (24)
      22. GeForce 6800 256MB 350/600 PCI-E
      1027
      941
      220
      (21)
      23. GeForce 6800XT 256MB 425/1000 PCI-E
      1155
      940
      197
      (20)
      24. RADEON X1300 PRO 256MB, 600/800
      1764
      901
      107
      (29)
      25. RADEON X850 XT PE 256MB 540/1180 PCI-E
      446
      817
      320
      (17)
      26. RADEON X850 XT 256MB 520/1080 PCI-E
      465
      805
      295
      (18)
      27. RADEON X1300 256MB, 450/550
      1446
      800
      93
      (34)
      28. GeForce 6600 DDR2 256MB 350/800 PCI-E
      1346
      799
      105
      (27)
      29. RADEON X800 XL 512MB 400/990 PCI-E
      408
      772
      330
      (22)
      30. RADEON X800 XL 256MB 400/990 PCI-E
      464
      768
      259
      (23)
      31. RADEON X800GTO 256MB 400/990 PCI-E
      596
      721
      185
      (25)
      32. RADEON X800 GT 256MB 475/990 PCI-E
      491
      689
      182
      (26)
      33. RADEON X800 128MB 400/700 PCI-E
      534
      673
      155
      (30)
      34. RADEON X700 PRO 256MB 425/860 PCI-E
      570
      640
      126
      (31)
      35. RADEON X700 256MB 400/700 PCI-E
      558
      614
      114
      (33)
      36. GeForce 6600GT 128MB 500/1000 PCI-E
      755
      588
      148
      (28)
      37. RADEON X550 XT 128MB, 400/900
      576
      536
      74
      (37)
      38. GeForce 6600 DDR2 512MB 300/550 PCI-E
      690
      531
      111
      (32)
      39. GeForce 6600 128MB 300/550 PCI-E
      756
      520
      96
      (35)
      40. RADEON X600 PRO 128MB, 400/600
      457
      520
      85
      (39)
      41. RADEON X550 256MB, 400/500
      635
      502
      65
      (38)
      42. GeForce 6600LE 128MB 300/550 PCI-E
      592
      464
      80
      (36)



    Ingame quality



    6. 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

    7. Game Artefacts Gallery

    Game Quality Section

    8. Game Quality Control Section

    Game Quality Control Section



    We thank all the companies that provided us with graphics cards and other equipment for our 3Digest, including:







    HIS (and personally Peter Yueng)







    Bench'emAll! (and personally Alexander Kondratyuk AKA Render for helping us optimize bechmarking).



Vitaly Milov (vmilov@ixbt.com)
Danil Gridasov (degust@ixbt.com)








Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)




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