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Overclocking

There was no reason why the Radeon X1950 XTX could be good at overclocking since it uses the ordinary R580 core that seldom achieves frequencies above 670-680MHz without extreme overclocking methods like volt-modding. The current version of RivaTuner doesn’t support the Radeon X1950 XTX, so we had to use a special utility provided by ATI Technologies. Our apprehensions came true: using standard overclocking methods, we only managed to increase the frequency of the 384-million-transistor chip to 670MHz. This is normal considering that the R580 dissipates more heat than many CPUs.

The memory chips refused to be clocked higher than 1100 (2200) MHz: the Desktop would all go blinking squares and the system hung up, but the mentioned frequency was stable. For higher operating frequencies the wiring of the PCB needs optimization, we guess. So, the highest frequencies at which the overclocked Radeon X1950 XTX was stable were 670/1100MHz, and it would be unwise to demand anything more from a premium-class product. Graphics cards in this category usually work at the limit even at their default frequencies. Better results may be achieved through extreme overclocking methods, but this is beyond the scope of this review.

Radeon X1950 XTX: Being an Eye Candy

Focusing on speed in modern games in the first place, many hardware reviewers pay less or no attention to the quality of graphics, particularly to the quality of texture filtering and antialiasing. This approach became the norm about three years ago when ATI Technologies improved greatly the quality of anisotropic filtering on its Radeon 9700/9800 whereas Nvidia reduced that quality in its GeForce FX. As a result, the picture delivered by the competing products was almost the same quality, so speed became the major concern, especially because there was a definite lack of sheer speed in some games like Far Cry .

It is different today, however. The GeForce 7 series uses even simpler anisotropic and tri-linear filtering algorithms than those employed in the GeForce FX whereas the Radeon X1000 chips have acquired support of “high-quality AF”. So, the two competitors may differ in the quality of anisotropic filtering and the user must be aware that one graphics card may be slower but deliver a better-looking image and vice versa.

Our readers have reported they have seen “noise” in textures on Nvidia GeForce 7 graphics cards and have requested that we use a better-quality mode when testing products from that series in comparison with ATI’s Radeon X1000. Yet each time we tried to find any difference in static screenshots we couldn’t sport any great discrepancy in the quality of texture filtering on ATI and Nvidia cards. But since that noise shows up most conspicuously in motion, we decided to check it out by moving along the same trajectories in popular games and recording this into video clips by means of the Fraps utility.

Having watched a lot of records made in different games we’ve come to the conclusion that although the anisotropic filtering methods employed by ATI and Nvidia are far from perfect, products from the former company offer a much better tri-linear filtering, which results in the lack of eye-irritating texture noise in some cases.

For you to see it with your own eyes, we offer you a few video clips for download:

As you can see, the texture noise is obvious in some cases and can be put up with in others, like in Elder Scrolls: Oblivion . We can’t offer you a general recommendation, but each time we see a small advantage of a GeForce over a Radeon, which is not due to advantages or shortcomings of this or that architecture, we should be aware that this may be the consequence of the lower rendering quality.

 
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