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Detonator 40 Evaluation
Date: Aug 30, 2002
Author: HH Editor
Detonator 40 Evaluation - Page 1

NVIDIA Detonator 40 Evaluation
New Features And Enhanced Performance

By -Chris Angelini
August 30, 2002

We haven?t heard much from NVIDIA lately, though rumors about NV30 seem to dominate hardware discussion boards. Similarly, even the excitement surrounding nForce2 has subsided in light of newfound graphics competition from ATI.  After patiently watching ATI tantalize the mainstream, enthusiast, and mobile markets, NVIDIA has put the finishing touches on a new driver package that bolsters performance and enhances the functionality of its entire graphics family.  Will it be enough to divert attention from the RADEON 9700 Pro?  Not this time ? ATI has established a sizeable performance advantage and it will take a lot more than a driver update to close the gap.  Rather, NVIDIA claims that game enthusiasts will enjoy a few extra frames per second with their GeForce4 cards, graphics professionals should enjoy faster rendering on the Quadro and corporate users will have new display features to increase productivity.

Anisotropic Filtering
Finally, Direct3D Support...

ATI?s RADEON 8500 was lauded for its ability to handle anisotropic filtering in both OpenGL and Direct3D.  The GeForce4 Ti 4600, on the other hand, took a tremendous performance hit with the feature enabled.  Even then, the previous Detonator driver only offered the feature in OpenGL. So, one of the most significant additions to the Detonator 40 series is anisotropic filtering support in Direct3D.

The new Detonator 40.41 drivers deliver little more than a three percent performance improvement in Quake III with anisotropic filtering enabled.  Even more interesting, though, is the difference between anisotropic filtering in OpenGL and Direct3D.  Enabling 8x anisotropic filtering in Quake III at 1600x1200 results in a 42 percent performance loss, while similar settings in AquaNox (a DirectX 8 application) cause a 71 percent penalty.  Either the games themselves are to blame, or NVIDIA needs to spend time optimizing the algorithm for anisotropic filtering in Direct3D.  We'll apparently have to wait for the NV3x for faster filtering performance.

New Features For Corporate Productivity

NVIDIA has tacked a couple of new features onto the nView multi-display technology.  To begin, specific nView user profiles can be assigned and locked using Administrative access in Windows XP.  Among the other improvements that NVIDIA lists is a desktop manager capable of creating 32 unique desktops, enhanced ?zoom? performance, better transparency performance, and a redesigned hotkey assignment utility.

90, 180, or 270 Degrees...

Many LCD displays can be rotated to a vertical ?portrait? viewing angle ? ideal for word processing and desktop publishing.  The NVRotate feature allows 2D, 3D and video acceleration in any rotated configuration, be it 90, 180, or 270 degrees.  According to NVIDIA, there is no performance penalty for enabling NVRotate.

NVKeystone and Benchmarks... 

Detonator 40 Evaluation - Page 2

NVIDIA Detonator 40 Evaluation
New Features And Enhanced Performance

By -Chris Angelini
August 30, 2002

Real-Time Projector Corrector

An essential part of preparing for a presentation is ensuring that the projector is properly aligned and focused.  Often times, the room configuration doesn?t facilitate an easy set-up.  Should it become necessary to use a projector at an obscure angle, NVKeystone makes it possible to adjust the final display in real-time.  Additionally, 2D, 3D and video acceleration are all supported through the projector output.

HotHardware Test System
Powered by the 2.8GHz Pentium 4

PNY Verto GeForce4 Ti 4600 128MB

Detonator 40.41

Detonator 30.28





Common Hardware:

Pentium 4 2.8GHz

Intel i850E Reference Motherboard

IBM 30GB ATA-100 7200RPM Hard Drive

Sound Blaster Live! Value

A Few Words About The Benchmarks:
In setting up our test machines, we install Windows XP on a formatted, FAT32 hard drive.  After installing the relevant drivers we disable system restore, all of the graphical enhancements in Windows XP, and the Automatic Update feature.  The desktop on each test bed is set to 1024x768, 16-bit color and a 75Hz refresh rate.

All of the benchmarks run with maximum detail settings include maximum texture detail and geometric detail.  Furthermore, all benchmarks were run at 1600x1200 at 32-bit color.

3D Mark 2001 SE
Synthetic DirectX 8.1 Benchmark

NVIDIA is able to squeeze an extra seven percent out of the GeForce4 Ti 4600 in 3D Mark 2001.  Of course, synthetic results are hardly indicative of real-world gaming, so let's take a look at Quake III performance.

Quake III
OpenGL Benchmark

Quake III is one of the most popular benchmarks, so it is very probable that NVIDIA has already dedicated a significant amount of time to optimizing performance.  The Detonator 40.41 drivers are able to expose an extra three percent, though.  Comparatively, the RADEON 9700 Pro is still immensely faster, besting the Ti 4600 by no less than 25 percent. 
Comanche 4
Another DirectX 8 Benchmark

There are several reasons to test with more than one benchmark.  Comanche 4 illustrates exactly why.  Whereas many of the other benchmarks show an impressive performance gain, performance is actually lost by switching to the new drivers here.  Once again, the RADEON 9700 Pro takes the victory overall by about 11 percent.

More Benchmarks and Conclusion... 

Detonator 40 Evaluation - Page 3
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