Image Quality and Problems Discovered in Contemporary Games
Unfortunately, just like in case of S3 DeltaChrome, XGI Volari Duo V8 Ultra also had some start-up problems in a few contemporary games.
In particular, Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness refused to start with old XGI Reactor v1.00.000 drivers, and when we installed the newer v1.01.510 driver it did start but froze every now and then. One of the next-generation games we had at our disposal refused to start with any driver version we installed, and in a few other games we could notice some unpleasant visual artifacts. Among them are Tron 2.0 and Command & Conquer Generals: Zero Hour:
In case of Zero Hour the problem is connected with the water surface display. It probably has something to do with the fact that the current driver version doesn’t support some shaders. As for Tron 2.0, the picture here is not so illustrative, although the reference image and the image produced by Volari do differ greatly. In the first place the differences are noticeable in the neon lighting and ghosts around many objects in this game.
There is one more issue, which has nothing to do with games, but which nevertheless should be mentioned. During the playback of some movies we watched a black screen with the sound from the movie. The problem could be solved by disabling overlay in the player settings, and it worked for Winamp 5.01, for BSPlayer and for Windows Media Player 9. The problem is likely to be originating from the incorrectly working Cipher Video Processor technology, and should be soon solved in the new driver versions. However, the fact that we discovered it now doesn’t add to the developer’s score.
Optimizations and Performance in Gaming Applications
Unfortunately, the rumors circulating around the web and claiming that XGI decided to go in NVIDIA’s footsteps by optimizing the drivers, appeared absolutely true. xrvkp.sys file included into the first version of XGI Reactor contained the following:
3DMARK03.EXE; 3DMARK2001SE.EXE; 3DMARK2001.EXE; AQUAMARK.EXE; C4DEMO.EXE; GMMARK2.EXE; MAXPAYNE.EXE; BENCHMARK.EXE; UT2003.EXE; BEND3DIM.EXE; MADDEN04.EXE; HALO.EXE; 3DNASYS.EXE; CODECREATURES BENCHMARK PRO.EXE; CODECREATURES; SERIOUSSAM.EXE; SPLINTERCELL.EXE; C4.EXE; TRAOD.EXE; TRAOD_P3.EXE; TRAOD_P4.EXE; GIANTS.EXE; SEP.EXE; CLIENT.EXE; DFBHD.EXE; TOEE.EXE; MAJESTICCHESS.EXE; AOWSM.EXE; MGS2; SR2.EXE; F1_2001.exe; SPEEDDEMO.EXE; BF1942.EXE; X2-DEMO.EXE; XIII.EXE; FFXIWINBENCH.EXE; SIMCITY4.exe; GAME.DAT; WAR3.EXE; SM.EXE; FREELANCER.EXE; NR2003DEMO.EXE; FS9.EXE; DCT2.EXE; HCT.EXE.
More than suspicious, don’t you think so? The new XGI Reactor v1.01.51 doesn’t have these lines any more, but the concerns we had inspired us to check if the cheats had really been removed completely. To find this out we ran all gaming tests twice. First we ran the tests with standard names of the exe-files, and then we renamed the start-up exe-files and repeated the test cycle again.
Therefore all graphs and diagrams for the performance of our testing participants in gaming applications contain two positions for Club3D Volari Duo V8 Ultra: the first one illustrates the regular result, while the second one shows what was obtained after we renamed the files of the tested application. If the second position is empty, then it means that the performance and image quality in both cases was the same. When we discovered any optimizations, we took a couple of screenshots to make sure that the performance gain demonstrated by Volari caused noticeably image quality worsening. Namely, that they had to sacrifice tri-linear filtering and enable bilinear instead, just like in the first XGI Reactor driver version. By the way, they replaced the older driver with a new version very quickly, almost immediately after the cheats had been discovered.