ATI 256MB Radeon 9800 Pro

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The 256MB ATi Radeon 9800 Pro
It's Here!  But What Does the Extra Memory Mean to Gamers?

By - Marco Chiappetta
May 12, 2003

With so much of the emphasis placed on frame rates, it's easy to think speed is the only measure of a video card's worth.  Well, speed is incredibly important, but the highest frame rates in the world are meaningless if the images being displayed on your screen look terrible.  Before we started benchmarking, we fired up a few games and a simple tool to assess the image quality of ATi's 256MB Radeon 9800 Pro...

Screenshots with Antialiasing Enabled
...Pretty, Oh So Pretty...
 

NO AA
 

2X AA
 

4X AA
 

6X AA

We used v2.2 of ToMMTi-Systems FSAA tool to test the 256MB Radeon 9800 Pro's Antialiasing capabilities.  This tool is similar to the Pin-Wheel demo we used recently in our Radeon 9600 Pro review.  However, the ToMMTi-Systems FSAA tester uses 3D objects rather than flat 2D elements.  The first image, without any Antialiasing enabled is just plain ugly.  Some of the lines appear to be incomplete, there are jaggies everywhere and the center of the image looks like a pile of jumbled pixels.  With 2X AA enabled, the image is much cleaner, but it is still fairly "dirty".  When we enabled 4X AA, however, the jaggies all but disappeared.  Although there were some sections of the image, like in the 7 o'clock and 1 o'clock positions, where lines are incomplete.  These broken lines remained when we enabled 6X AA, but the benefits of each AA level are clearly evident.


UT 2003:  NO AA


UT 2003:  NO AA
600% ZOOM


UT 2003:  2X AA


UT 2003:  2X AA
600% ZOOM


UT 2003:  4X AA


UT 2003:  4X AA
600% ZOOM


UT 2003:  6X AA


UT 2003:  6X AA
600% ZOOM

We also tested the ATi Radeon 9800 Pro's AA quality using Epic's Unreal Tournament 2003.  We set all of the in-game graphical options to their maximum settings, turned on 16X anisotropic filtering and snapped off a few shots with the resolution set to 1024x768.  The textures used in UT2003 are of very high quality, so even the aliased image looks fairly clean.  We enlarged the center of the screen shots by 600% to better demonstrate the benefits of ATi's AA methods.  The aliased image looks very similar to the one with 2X AA enabled.  However, the 4X AA and 6X AA shots are clearly superior.  Pay special attention to the fine lines at the top of the screen along the elevated platform.  In the aliased screen shot, that line is broken up into separate pixels, but the in the 4X AA and 6X AA shots the line remains continuous and clean throughout the entire length of the image.

In Game Screenshots with Anisotropic Filtering using Quake 3 Arena
Somewhere...Over The Rainbow
 

QUAKE 3: NO ANISO


QUAKE 3: NO ANISO
COLORED MIP LEVELS

 

QUAKE 3: 2X ANISO


QUAKE 3: 2X ANISO
COLORED MIP LEVELS

 

QUAKE 3: 4X ANISO


QUAKE 3: 4X ANISO
COLORED MIP LEVELS

 

QUAKE 3: 8X ANISO


QUAKE 3: 8X ANISO
COLORED MIP LEVELS

 

QUAKE 3: 16X ANISO


QUAKE 3: 16X ANISO
COLORED MIP LEVELS

To show the affects of the 256MB Radeon 9800 Pro's Anisotropic Filtering levels, we used Quake 3 Arena.  Each level of Anisotropic Filtering is represented above by two screen shots; one with colored mip levels, the other without.  When browsing through the images, pay attention to the floor underneath the armor.  As the level of Anisotropic filtering is increased, that section of the floor becomes less and less blurred.  In the colored shots, notice how smooth the transitions are between each mip level.  The R3x0's Anisotropic filtering technique has been almost universally praised, and rightly so...it does a great job cleaning up textures and sharpening the image.

Let The Benchmarking Begin!

Tags:  ATI, Radeon, 980, pro

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