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3D graphics, game tests

3D games used to estimate 3D performance:

  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein (MultiPlayer) (id Software/Activision) -- OpenGL, multitexturing, Checkpoint-demo, test settings -- maximum, S3TC OFF, the configurations can be downloaded from here.
  • Serious Sam: The Second Encounter v.1.05 (Croteam/GodGames) -- OpenGL, multitexturing, Grand Cathedral demo, test settings: quality, S3TC OFF.
  • Quake3 Arena v.1.17 (id Software/Activision) -- OpenGL, multitexturing, Quaver, test settings -- maximum: detailing level - High, texture detailing level - #4, S3TC OFF, smoothness of curves is much increased through variables r_subdivisions "1" and r_lodCurveError "30000" (at default r_lodCurveError is 250 !), the configurations can be downloaded from here.
  • Unreal Tournament 2003 Demo (Digital Extreme/Epic Games) -- Direct3D, Vertex Shaders, Hardware T&L, Dot3, cube texturing, default quality.
  • Code Creatures Benchmark Pro (CodeCult) test demonstrates operation of cards in the DirectX 8.1, Shaders, HW T&L.
  • AquaMark (Massive Development) test demonstrates operation of cards in the DirectX 8.1, Shaders, HW T&L.
  • RightMark 3D v.0.4 (one of the game scenes) -- DirectX 8.1, Dot3, cube texturing, shadow buffers, vertex and pixel shaders (1.1, 1.4).

Quake3 Arena, Quaver

NVIDIA's optimization of the drivers for this game makes RADEON 9800 PRO lose to GeForce FX 5800 Ultra.

But ATI's drivers are well optimized to RADEON 9800 PRO, which helps Soft9800 PRO outpace RADEON 9700 PRO by 25% at the equal clock speeds.

Strangely, Soft9800 PRO clocked at the frequency of 9800 PRO runs faster than RADEON 9800 PRO (with AA and anisotropy). They have overdone it. This fact means that RADEON 9800 PRO is not simply a copy of 9700 working at the higher clock speeds.

Serious Sam: The Second Encounter, Grand Cathedral

ATI likes this test more than NVIDIA does. Although RADEON 9800 PRO loses to its rival in the anisotropy mode, it wins in the heavier one with AA and anisotropy enabled.

Are the drivers of RADEON 9800 PRO optimized for this game? Sure! But it can be seen only for AA and anisotropy modes. Again, Soft 9800 PRO performs better at 380/680 MHz than RADEON 9800 PRO, that is why the affirmation that RADEON 9800 PRO = RADEON 9700 PRO + increased frequencies is inconsistent.

Return to Castle Wolfenstein (Multiplayer), Checkpoint

Again NVIDIA's optimization for this game? Strangely enough but RADEON 9800 PRO loses the battle again even in the heavy modes with AA and anisotropy.

The drivers are optimized for 9800 but you can feel it only when AA and anisotropy are used.

This test confirms that RADEON 9800 PRO is a product different from RADEON 9700 PRO.

Code Creatures

In this test the shader speed is very important. ATI's cards do not have any problems here, in contrast to NVIDIA GeForce FX 5800. That is why RADEON 9800 PRO wins.

Well, if a test is not widely used, it won't be optimized for RADEON 9800 PRO. In this test the latter takes the lead exactly at the expense of its higher clock speeds and the GPU optimizations (caches, a higher shader speed etc.).

Unreal Tournament 2003 DEMO

The vertex shader speed has a strong effect on this game, and RADEON 9800 PRO goes far ahead. In the heavy modes with AA and anisotropy the new-comer looks brilliant!

Optimization of the drivers for 9800 is pretty good, as we can see it at the frequencies of 9700 PRO. 9700 PRO overclocked up to 9800 PRO and turned into Soft9800 PRO showed the scores in AA and anisotropy modes equal to RADEON 9800 PRO, that is why we can speak about pure optimization.


Without the extra load RADEON 9800 PRO grasps the victory (except 1600x1200), but with AA and anisotropy it loses to its competitor, though it works speedier in the AA mode.

RADEON 9800 PRO has its drivers optimized for this test, but the test is not that crucial and the developers didn't do their best.

RightMark 3D

On one hand, RADEON 9800 PRO smashes NVIDIA's card because the test much depends on the shaders speed; on the other hand, this test is not open for the programmers at ATI or NVIDIA, and we can see that Soft 9800 PRO 380/680 MHz falls far behind from RADEON 9800 PRO in the heavy modes! Moreover, at 325/620 MHz it lags even behind RADEON 9700 PRO!

When it comes to games or tests for which the developers can't make any optimizations, when the processor works by itself and when a given test actively uses modern technologies, RADEON 9800 PRO shows that its not simply an improved version of 9700 PRO.


NVIDIA's drivers, as well as the more flexibly programmable NV30 help this company win.

3D Graphics Quality

We have carefully examined performance of RADEON 9800 PRO in games, in particular with AA and anisotropy enabled, and found no difference in quality from RADEON 9700 PRO. In one of our previous reviews we looked into the differences between NVIDIA and ATI regarding ATI and anisotropy, you can read about it in GeForce FX 5800 Ultra Review (theory, practice), and in GeForce FX 5600/5200 Review (practical comparison of the anisotropy).


Today we were dealing with the fastest game graphics accelerator -- ATI RADEON 9800 PRO. So, what do we have to say about it?

  1. The launch of this product is ATI's response to NVIDIA's announcement of NVIDIA GeForce FX 5800 Ultra, though a bit ephemeral. The Canadian company did it best to squeeze maximum of the 0.15 micron process, and first of all, higher clock rates. However, in some tests RADEON 9800 PRO has lost in spite of the driver release. As you know, GeForce FX hasn't got the driver release yet and it's not clear how much it will boost the performance. Well, we expected the weightier gain of ATI, at least, no defeat. ATI might bring out more efficient modification of R350, for example, under the name of RADEON 9900 PRO; besides, we do not exclude that it can couple its modification with DDR2 memory.
  2. RADEON 9800 PRO is not just a chip with the increased frequencies. It's obvious that R350 was redesigned regarding a higher output of valid chips, frequencies and interaction of the units and caches (i.e. performance in applications). It's hard to separate the benefit from architecture optimization and from driver optimization, but we will be able to do it if drivers providing optimization for R300 are released.
  3. The developers are cheating. The drivers are optimized for a number of popular tests so that RADEON 9800 PRO looked a faster runner than RADEON 9700 PRO. The efforts of our programmer Aleksei Nikolaichuk can help owners of RADEON 9700/PRO speed up its operation using the Soft9800 patch
  4. Judging by the layout the video card has almost the same cost as RADEON 9700 PRO, and the final price will be influenced by the cost of R350 and by the marketing interests. I think it won't be dearer than $400-420 in the beginning.
  5. It doesn't make sense for owners of RADEON 9700 PRO to sell their cards to buy 9800 PRO. But those who want a top High-End accelerator and who are thinking about 9700 PRO had better wait for RADEON 9800 PRO. Reportedly, such cards will get to the shelves not earlier than the second half of April. The accelerated version of GeForce FX 5800 codenamed NV35 should appear on the market at the same time. That is why it's not clear which models RADEON 9800 PRO is going to stand against: NV30 or NV35. What is going to happen with RADEON 9700 PRO? I wish 9700 and 9700 PRO remained on the market but stepped down the price ladder ($200-250); but as you know, new RADEON 9600(PRO) are positioned for $170-200, and speedier RADEON 9700 might spoil its sales. Besides, R300 is not much cheaper than R350, and it's hardly beneficial for ATI to cut prices for R300. I suppose RADEON 9700/PRO will entirely be replaced with RADEON 9800/PRO.

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