Articles: Graphics

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Since the fresh breed of games are very hungry for processing power of graphics chips, even 1280x1024 resolution seems to be adequate for comparison. Given that majority of gamers with cathode ray tube (CRT) and liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors are likely to use just that resolution, we base our conclusions on performance of graphics cards in 1280x1024 resolution with anisotropic filtering 16x and full-scene antialiasing 4x in all cases except entry-level and mainstream components where we consider 1280x1024 without FSAA and AF along with 1024x768 with eye candy activated as standard settings.

Please note that in the conclusion section we only compare results obtained without considering whether the settings are actually playable or not. For comments regarding playability please refer to comments specific for particular game.

Premium Graphics Cards

There is no news that for more than a year designers of graphics chips and makers of graphics cards have been putting tremendous efforts into offering the absolutely fastest graphics card on the planet. Such a trend created premium class of graphics cards that include flagship offerings from ATI and NVIDIA – such as Platinum Edition or Ultra Extreme – along with overclocked boards from partners.

At this time, the absolutely fastest graphics card officially unveiled is NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX 512 that is also available in overclocked flavours from partners like EVGA, Gainward and XFX. Some manufacturers have also recently launched turbo-charged versions of the RADEON X1800 XT 512MB, but those yet have to reach the market and it is highly unlikely that those boards will dethrone the GeForce 7800 GTX 512.

What you should definitely remember when acquiring a premium class graphics card is that this is khalif for an hour – the competition between ATI and NVIDIA is so fierce that the makers are likely to grab leadership one from another every quarter or so.

High-End Graphics Cards

In the high-end segment the RADEON X1800 XT 512MB seems to be the fastest and the most expensive. While it is significantly faster compared to the GeForce 7800 GTX, it is also more expensive, but still not as costly as the GeForce 7800 GTX 512. Given that 256MB flavour of the RADEON X1800 XT yet has to emerge, we do not think that we should keep it in mind just yet when comparing to the GeForce 7800 GTX.

So, when it comes to the fastest graphics cards, their performance is stacked up according to the price, which should probably ease choosing the suitable one for customers.

In case of the GeForce 7800 GT and the RADEON X1800 XL, we would say that there is a draw between them in terms of speed: the former wins in Age of Empires 3, Call of Duty 2 and Serious Sam 2, while the later tops in F.E.A.R., Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory and Quake 4; the results in Battlefield 2 are similar. Unfortunately, the RADEON X1800 XL has a driver flaw that limits its performance in Battlefield 2, Call of Duty 2 and Serious Sam 2. While the error may be corrected one day, at this point it does exist and you should consider it when purchasing.

While the RADEON X850 XT-series still has some huge power, it is behind the today’s leaders and we would recommend to purchase it only at the price significantly below that of the RADEON X1800 XL and the GeForce 7800 GT, as the year-old GPU does not support an array of modern features that may be useful in the coming year.

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