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Thanks to complexity and saturation of the game scene, there are practically no visible differences between the cards and operational modes in Max Payne 2.

Max Payne 2 Image Quality Comparison

GeForce 6800, optimizations enabled

GeForce 6800, optimizations disabled

RADEON X800, optimizations enabled

RADEON X800, optimizations disabled

GeForce FX 5950, optimizations enabled

GeForce FX 5950, optimizations disabled

RADEON 9800, optimizations enabled

RADEON 9800, optimizations disabled

Max Payne 2 reference image quality (GeForce 6800 in High Quality mode)

You can find differences in the pictures produced by the GeForce 6800 Ultra and the RADEON X800 XT with and without their optimizations, but it’s hard to discern them at a glance, really.

Painkiller Image Quality Comparison

GeForce 6800, optimizations enabled

GeForce 6800, optimizations disabled

RADEON X800, optimizations enabled

RADEON X800, optimizations disabled

GeForce FX 5950, optimizations enabled

GeForce FX 5950, optimizations disabled

RADEON 9800, optimizations enabled

RADEON 9800, optimizations disabled

Painkiller reference image quality (GeForce 6800 in High Quality mode)

As you see, optimizations are not always equivalent to image quality degradation. On the contrary, texture filtering optimizations don’t affect the visual perception of the scene in a majority of cases. Things may be different in dynamics, though. For example, the noise and the boundaries between mip-levels, not visible in a static screenshot, become most conspicuous in the process of the game. But, as you understand, the player of Painkiller, Far Cry, Halo and other such games has no time to examine the transitions between mip-levels for any hidden optimizations: he or she is first of all concerned about self-preservation in the game world.

Of course, it doesn’t mean we should condone the optimizations altogether. For example, XGI’s approach to making the Volari-based cards perform faster is downright unacceptable and provoked our immediate and negative reaction. However, such rough “optimizations” are so destructive that they catch your eye immediately, contrary to those from ATI and NVIDIA, which can only be traced by scrutinizing each game screenshot or searching for scenes that make a particular optimization conspicuous. As for real gaming situations, again, it’s hard to see anything wrong unless you do it on purpose.

Anyway, our opinion is that the end-user should have the right to choose between a dozen or other of frames per second and true tri-linear and anisotropic filtering. For example, optimizations may become visible and annoying in a certain game due to peculiarities of its engine or some other factors, and the user must have an opportunity to avoid that. Some users may be quite content with the texturing quality with optimizations enabled and may want just leave them on.

The customer’s trust in the manufacturer is a very important factor, since it conditions the success of the product in the market. This trust is easy to lose, but hard to regain, even with titanic efforts.

We are glad NVIDIA chose to be open to its own customers, offering them the control over the optimizations. We hope this practice will be continued by the company as well as by other graphics processor manufacturers.

 
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