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Overclocking and 2D Quality

Gigabyte’s Radeon X1900 XTX and GeForce 7900 GTX are both top-end graphics solutions which means they are already working at the limit. Still, we made an attempt to overclock them. The maximum stable frequencies of the Gigabyte Radeon X1900 XTX were 670/810 (1620) MHz for the GPU and memory, respectively. The Gigabyte GeForce 7900 GXT was stable at 690/880 (1760) MHz.

The achieved GPU frequencies are quite high considering that we used only the standard overclocking tools. The memory only did well on the Gigabyte GeForce 7900 GTX. Considering that 1.1ns chips are capable of working at 900 (1800) MHZ frequency, the memory frequency growth on the Gigabyte Radeon X1900 XTX is disappointing. It’s possible the thermal pads employed by ATI Technologies are not very good.

Both the cards being in fact reference samples of the respective products, the 2D image quality was immaculate on either of them. We couldn’t spot any defects in the picture the cards produced via our Dell P1110 and P1130 monitors in any display mode, including 1800x1440@75Hz.

Testbed and Methods

We tested Gigabyte Radeon X1900 XTX and Gigabyte GeForce 7900 GTX in the following testbed:

  • AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 CPU (2x2.60GHz, 2x1MB L2 cache)
  • ASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe mainboard (Nvidia nForce4 SLI X16 chipset) for Nvidia GeForce graphics cards
  • ASUS A8R32-MVP Deluxe mainboard (ATI CrossFire Xpress 3200 chipset) for ATI Radeon graphics cards
  • OCZ PC3200 Platinum EL DDR SDRAM (2 x 1GB, CL2-3-2-5)
  • Maxtor MaXLine III 7B250S0 hard disk drive (Serial ATA-150, 16MB buffer)
  • Creative SoundBlaster Audigy 2 sound card
  • Enermax Liberty 620W power supply (ELT620AWT, 620W)
  • Dell P1130 and Dell P1110 monitors (21”, 1800x1440@75Hz max display mode)
  • Microsoft Windows XP Pro SP2 with DirectX 9.0c
  • ATI Catalyst 6.4
  • Nvidia ForceWare 84.21

We set up the ATI and Nvidia drivers in the same way as always:

ATI Catalyst:

  • Catalyst A.I.: Standard
  • Mipmap Detail Level: Quality
  • Wait for vertical refresh: Always off
  • Adaptive antialiasing: Off
  • Temporal antialiasing: Off
  • Quality AF: Off
  • Other settings: default

Nvidia ForceWare:

  • Image Settings: Quality
  • Vertical sync: Off
  • Trilinear optimization: On
  • Anisotropic mip filter optimization: Off
  • Anisotropic sample optimization: On
  • Gamma correct antialiasing: On
  • Transparency antialiasing: Off
  • Other settings: default

We selected the highest graphics quality settings in each game, identical for graphics cards from ATI and Nvidia, except for the Pacific Fighters flight simulator that requires vertex texturing for its Shader Model 3.0 rendering mode. Radeon X1000 doesn’t support this feature therefore we ran the game in Shader Model 2.0 in this case. We did not edit the configuration files of the games. We also didn’t use the driver profiles optimized for given games. To measure the performance we either used the integrated tools of the games we tested in, or if there were none available, resorted to FRAPS utility. If it was possible, we measured minimal performance as well.

To load the video subsystem to the full extent and to minimize the influence of the CPU speed on the performance results we didn’t test the systems in the “pure speed” mode. We only ran the tests in “eye candy” mode with full-screen anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering. The graphics subsystem potential is used in a more optimal manner in this case. Besides, the image quality is considerably higher than in those cases when no full-screen anti-aliasing and/or anisotropic filtering is enabled.

We enabled FSAA and AF from the game if possible. Otherwise we forced the necessary mode from the ATI Catalyst and Nvidia ForceWare graphics card driver. We didn’t include any results of the overclocked graphics cards, because we didn’t manage to raise the clock speeds high enough.

These games and applications were used as benchmarks:

First-Person 3D Shooters

  • Battlefield 2
  • The Chronicles of Riddick
  • Call of Duty 2
  • Doom III
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
  • Far Cry
  • F.E.A.R.
  • Half-Life 2
  • Half-Life 2: Lost Coast
  • Project Snowblind
  • Quake 4
  • Serious Sam 2
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Third-Person 3D Shooters

  • Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

Simulators

  • Pacific Fighters
  • X3: Reunion

Strategies

  • Age of Empires 3
  • Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War

Synthetic benchmarks

  • Futuremark 3DMark05 build 1.2.0
  • Futuremark 3DMark06 build 1.0.2
 
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