iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Part 1 - Performance.


  1. Official specifications
  2. Architecture
  3. Video cards' features
  4. Testbed configurations, benchmarks, 2D quality
  5. Synthetic tests in D3D RightMark
  6. Synthetic tests in 3DMark03: FillRate Multitexturing
  7. Synthetic tests in 3DMark03: Vertex Shaders
  8. Synthetic tests in 3DMark03: Pixel Shaders
  9. Test results: Quake3 ARENA
  10. Test results: Serious Sam: The Second Encounter
  11. Test results: Return to Castle Wolfenstein
  12. Test results: Code Creatures DEMO
  13. Test results: Unreal Tournament 2003
  14. Test results: Unreal II: The Awakening
  15. Test results: RightMark 3D
  16. Test results: TRAOD
  17. Test results: FarCry
  18. Test results: Call Of Duty
  19. Test results: HALO: Combat Evolved
  20. Test results: Half-Life2(beta)
  21. Test results: Splinter Cell
  22. Test results: DOOM III
  23. Test results: 3DMark03 Game1
  24. Test results: 3DMark03 Game2
  25. Test results: 3DMark03 Game3
  26. Test results: 3DMark03 Game4
  27. Test results: 3DMark03 MARKS
  28. Conclusions

3DMark03: MARKS

As a result of the strong influence of the previous test, X700XT is almost always victorious. Moreover, optimizations (A.I.) provide decent performance gains.

Thus, on the whole:

  • RADEON X700XT versus RADEON 9800 PRO (ATHLON64 3400+) - victory
  • RADEON X700XT versus RADEON 9800 XT (ATHLON64 3400+) - victory
  • RADEON X700XT versus GeForce 6600GT - victory
  • RADEON X700XT versus GeForce 6800LE (ATHLON64 3400+) - relative parity
  • RADEON X700XT with the LOW OPTIMIZATION versus RADEON X700XT WITHOUT OPTIMIZATIONS - there is some effect


Summing it all up:

  • Taking into account multiple though minor victories of X700XT over its main competitor GeForce 6600GT, one could have said a lot of good words about the new ATI card, but...
  • Obscure and tremendous failure of the card in Far Cry as well as the expected defeat in DOOM III (those two hits!) and poor results in HL2 are the reasons for holding back the leader title from X700XT.
  • A fly in the ointment is the noise of the cooler, which is totally unjustified according to our test results.
  • Even if we equate with great reserve GeForce 6600GT with RADEON X700XT, such potential technological "homework" as SLI and SM3 provides GeForce 6600GT with better chances for demand (SLI in the first place).
  • We decided to skip X700XT overclocking tests because of two reasons: lack of time, and a small potential (the card "freezes" even when its core frequency is set to 505 MHz, while the overclocking potential of 6600GT is excellent. That's why it won't be hard for NVIDIA to release another revision of the card at higher frequencies thus eliminating all shaky speed advantages of X700XT).
  • A sweet pill is that X700XT is really faster than its former brothers from the high end camp: 9800PRO/9800XT. And, of course, faster than GeForce FX 5950U. But let's not forget that these cards are from different sectors (PCX and AGP) and thus it won't be quite correct to compare them. When upgrading to another platform, users will have to change the configuration anyway, and a direct comparison will be incorrect.

Firstly, we'll have to hope that a new driver (or a game patch) will be released soon to fix this failure in Far Cry. Secondly, ATI will surely have to keep down its appetite concerning $249 for a 256-MB video card and to reduce the price by 40-50 dollars waiting for a launch of a more powerful video card from NVIDIA of the same 6600 series.

Thirdly, we all remember that for a long time the ATI products have been the favorites only because they were considerably faster in shader games than their NVIDIA counterparts. And in order to retain the first place, the Canadian company would have to launch a product, which is not equal (relatively) in performance, but noticeably faster than its competitor. And also to take into account a fair overclocking reserve of 6600GT (which is strangely not the case with X700XT, though both products are manufactured using the same process technology).

ATI still has a "resort" in the AGP sector, where NVIDIA is presently offering old and weak FX 5700 for $150-$200. It's a good chance, but it's very odd to watch the Canadian company trying to play in this sector with 9800 PRO (which, according to the tests, is obviously out of the competition with the new middle end solutions) instead of introducing the X700 series, having taken advantage of the breakaway from NVIDIA in this sector. They could have produced various revisions of RV410 (with AGP and PCX interfaces). It's a pity but ATI seems to practically miss that opportunity - the company will hardly have time to react before the possible launch of new AGP solutions from NVIDIA.

Interestingly, showing steady preference for PCI-E, both companies actually force OEM integrators to switch to the new platform, which is very profitable for Intel but which does not pay for common users and for most OEM integrators either. Anyhow, the shade of Intel is obviously lurking behind the zealous PCI Express initiative of both graphics leaders.

Well, let's return to ATI. The leadership must be constantly upheld! You cannot just release a successful product once in three years and then rest on your laurels. If they don't understand that in Canada, they will soon lose the yellow jersey. They could have prided themselves on the powerful X800XT PE, but it cannot be found on shelves yet. You cannot lay claim to lands with a paper crown, and no one will swear allegiance to it...

We'll proceed with our reviews, so we are holding back our final sentence. The quality tests will do their bit, new drivers will be released, which will possibly fix the apparent bugs. We'll see who the winner is after the bulk sales start and various vendors offer their products...

Now what concerns CATALYST of the new version and its new features. It's pleasant to see that users are given the choice - which features they want to reduce and which they don't. This is what concerns A.I. But we'll analyze exactly what features are disabled and enabled when you switch between the A.I. modes. That's why we are not announcing our sentence yet. But the slow interface of CCC deserves the hottest words with a definitely negative connotation. It's a shame when this program is so godlessly slow even on a very powerful computer. We hope that the developers will take into account this moment in the nearest future. But on the whole, the idea of A.I. and CCC is very good.

In our 3Digest you can find more detailed comparisons of various video cards.

REMEMBER, this is only the first part of our series of articles devoted to RV410! To be continued!

[ The previous part (11) ]

We express our thanks to ATI
for the video cards provided to our lab.

Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)
Alexander Medvedev (unclesam@ixbt.com)

October 5, 2004

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