Articles: Graphics

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Performance: High-Performance Graphics Cards

3DMark06 demands fast execution of an abundance of complex shaders. This is why the Radeon X1800 XT can’t beat the GeForce 7800 GTX 512 and even loses to the GeForce 7800 GTX which compensates its rather low GPU and memory frequencies with its 24 pixel processors. The inability of the Radeon X1000 architecture to filter FP16 textures probably affects the results, too. Using an additional shader for “software” filtering of such textures may have created an extra load on the GPU and reduced the performance of the card.

The new ATI Radeon X1900 family, on the other hand, has a higher computational capacity than the Radeon X1800 series and proves it in this test. For example, the senior Radeon X1900 XTX model is quite confidently ahead of the previous leader. The less advanced model has a smaller advantage, yet it is a little better than the GeForce 7800 GTX 512 thanks to its 48 pixel processors as well as to the Fetch4 feature that accelerates processing of dynamic shadows created by means of shadow mapping. We should expect a more impressive victory from the Radeon X1900 series in the SM3.0 graphics tests.

In the lower category, the Radeon X1800 XL also loses to the GeForce 7800 GT while the last place goes to the out-dated and obsolete Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition that doesn’t support Shader Model 3.0.

The overall result of the two graphical tests isn’t good for the Radeon X1800 family even though the tests don’t use HDR. Why? These graphics cards have only 16 pixel processors and the Radeon X1000 architecture is generally less efficient when there are numerous simple shaders to be processed. Unlike them the Radeon X1900 cards feel much more confident in the SM2.0 graphical test. Even if they can’t work as efficiently with version 2.0 pixel shaders as Nvidia’s GeForce 7800 GTX 512, they make up for it with their numerous pixel processors, high core frequencies, Fetch4 support and the larger hierarchal Z-buffer.

Not so long ago the second round would have been Nvidia’s, but the recently announced Radeon X1900 XTX snatches the victory away of the GeForce 7800 GTX 512 while the cheaper Radeon X1900 XT has the same result as the Nvidia card’s up to 1 point. Moreover, the newcomer from Ati is much more affordable: you can already buy it today, while GeForce 7800 GTX 512 is still pretty hard to find and costs the whole lot of money.

The superiority of the Radeon X1900 family in the SM3.0/HDR tests appeared not so overwhelming as we have anticipated. Nevertheless, even the Radeon X1900 XT currently selling for $549 is somewhat faster than the GeForce 7800 GTX 512, which is most likely to cost you well over $700 if you are lucky to find it at all.

Despite its architectural innovations, the Radeon X1800 XT is in fact out of competition although it should have had an advantage in the third and fourth tests. Yes, the GeForce 7800 GTX 512 with its 24 pixel processors clocked at 550MHz and 1.7GHz graphics memory just has more raw power, but how do you explain the Radeon X1800 XT’s being as slow as the ordinary GeForce 7800 GTX which has much more modest technical characteristics?

So, the ATI Radeon X1900 XTX now enjoys leadership in the high-performance graphics card sector, which belonged to the Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX 512 just yesterday, but the Radeon X1800 performs rather poorly. It’s unlikely that we will find any changes in the rankings after analyzing the results of the graphical tests one by one, but let’s still try to do so.

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