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Performance-Mainstream

We’ve discussed the results of the GeForce 7900 GT and the Radeon X1900 GT with enabled full-screen antialiasing above. Now let’s see what they have to offer when FSAA is disabled. The single test where the Radeon X1900 GT is unable to rival the GeForce 7900 GT is Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends. The Radeon X1800 XL in its turn is slower than the Radeon X1900 GT due to lower clock rates and fewer pixel processors, with the exception of Titan Quest and Prey. On the other hand, the Radeon X1800 XL looks competitive against the Radeon X1800 GTO and the GeForce 7600 GT, although is slower than the Nvidia card in a few tests. The Radeon X1800 GTO is the slowest of all in general, although it enjoys a certain advantage over the others in the open scenes of TES IV: Oblivion due to its 256-bit memory bus.

The 16 TMUs and 16 ROPs put the Radeon X1800 XL in the lead in the 4x FSAA + 16x AF mode, while the Radeon X1800 GTO is unfortunately slower than the GeForce 7600 GT in almost all of the tests despite the two times wider memory bus. Note also that the mainstream cards cannot provide a comfortable frame rate even in 1280x1024 when FSAA is turned on, except for Half-Life 2: Episode One.

The GeForce 7900 GT breaks farther away from the Radeon X1900 GT and the Radeon X1800 XL as the resolution grows. This is expectable since the GeForce 7900 GT is the only graphics card in the performance/mainstream category that has 24 TMUs on board. These TMUs come in handy in high resolutions where texturing speed becomes a crucial parameter. Among the less powerful solutions the Radeon X1800 XL, a good price/performance compromise, still has the best results.

Since high resolutions also increase requirements to the graphics memory bandwidth, the Radeon X1800 GTO is getting closer to the GeForce 7600 GT but this has little practical value for gamers because these solutions are too slow in 1600x1200, except in Half-Life 2: Episode One.

As for using FSAA, the GeForce 7900 and the Radeon X1900 GT have a comfortable or nearly comfortable speed in this mode in only one game out of the seven whereas the other cards are even worse than that.

The results in 1920x1200 resolution with disabled FSAA are similar to those that we’ve seen in 1600x1200 with enabled FSAA. Only the results of the Radeon X1900 GT and GeForce 7900 GT in Half-Life 2: Episode One have some real practical value. When we turn on 4x FSAA the GeForce 7900 GT remains the only leader since the Radeon X1900 GT slows down to below 40fps. As for the rest of the games, the performance-mainstream solutions can’t yield even 30fps in them.

So, what’s the best buy in this category? Obviously, if you want to purchase a mainstream graphics card, you should look at the results of the “pure speed” mode. Anyway, the choice is actually between the Radeon X1800 XL and the GeForce 7600 GT. The former is generally a little faster, but the latter requires less power, is small and less noisy. The diagrams should help you make the choice. The Radeon X1800 GTO is not a good buy, unfortunately. It is slower than the GeForce 7600 in low resolutions, but cannot deliver a comfortable frame rate in high ones.

 
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