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