iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






ATI Technologies' counter-offensive:
RADEON X1800 (R520),
X1600 (RV530), and X1300 (RV515) Series

Part 4: Rendering Quality, New Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering Modes
(Continuation, SC: Chaos Theory)


  1. Part 1. Theory and architecture
  2. Part 2: Practical examination
  3. Part 3: Game test results (performance)
  4. Part 4: Render quality comparison in games

Settings and conventional signs

  • AA and AF control was done from the game.
  • Drivers were configured by default, except for those modified to analyze the quality in various AA and AF modes.

  • 4x/16x = MSAA 4x, AF 16x
  • 4x+TA/16x = MSAA 4x + Transparency/Adaptive AA, AF 16x
  • 4x+TA/16x+HQ = MSAA 4x + Transparency/Adaptive AA, AF 16x High Quality (HQ AF and Catalyst A.I. Off in R520, Catalyst A.I. Off in R480 and HQ mode in G70)

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

Chaos Theory, PC version released this year in spring, has become one of few games that demonstrated the advantages of GeForce 6x00 cards over the Radeon Xx00: using only SM1 and SM3 (SM2 was added later in a patch), FP16 HDR with Tone Mapping and Parallax Bump Mapping — SCCT was surprisingly technological for a game, developed for PC and Xbox simultaneously.

That's the game where we decided to try testing HDR on the X1800. We got strange results...

Radeon X1800
GeForce 7800

JPEG (~320 KB) | PNG (~2.1 MB)

JPEG (~320 KB) | PNG (~2.1 MB)

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JPEG (~320 KB) | PNG (~2.1 MB)

JPEG (~320 KB) | PNG (~2.1 MB)

JPEG (~320 KB) | PNG (~2.1 MB)

JPEG (~320 KB) | PNG (~2.1 MB)

JPEG (~320 KB) | PNG (~2.1 MB)

Radeon X850

JPEG (~320 KB) | PNG (~2.1 MB)

JPEG (~320 KB) | PNG (~2.1 MB)

JPEG (~320 KB) | PNG (~2.1 MB)

Let's clear up the HDR issue at first: I guess it's not hard to notice that while HDR works on the X1800, it's obviously not the very HDR, which can be seen in the 7800. This HDR is more like the "HDR" implemented in Patch 1.4 for SM2, that is for old Radeon cards. Why the quotes? That's because it's hard to bring into line HDR GF7800 with Tone Mapping and HDR RX850 with... no, Tone Mapping is available in the menu, but we haven't seen its results. And the dynamic range of the RX850 is evidently narrower than in the GF7800.

So, again no rational HDR comparison. We look forward to game patches and new RX1800 driver versions.

And in other respects? Everything else is horribly identical: the game is dark, textures are rather muddy, they successfully hide filtering imperfections in the GF7800. Sam Fisher's forelock is the only semitransparent texture, successfully smoothed by RX1800 as well as GF7800. And again — no advantages of the new anisotropy algorithm in the R520, though we hoped to see the difference on slanting walls of the tunnel...

Back: Half-Life 2 | Forward: F.E.A.R. SP Demo

Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)
Danil Gridasov (degust@ixbt.com)

October 12, 2005.

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