ATi Radeon 9800Pro Full Release Review

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ATi Radeon 9800Pro Full Release Review - Page 3

 

The ATi Radeon 9800 Pro Full Release Review
ATi Technologies Distances Itself From NVIDIA Once Again

By, Dave Altavilla
March 5, 2003

 

Before you peer too long at our test system below, we should let you know how much it pains us to not have NVIDIA's latest flagship product available to test along side the new ATi flagship.  The bottom line is this... NVIDIA has sent no more than a couple of boards out to the largest sites, like Anandtech and Tom's Hardware, and perhaps a few print publications and TV media.  The reason for this has become painfully obvious over the past few weeks.  The GeForce FX 5800 Ultra is simply not a full ramp production vehicle for NVIDIA.  Most likely many of you will never be able to buy this board in the retail channel.  So why then spin up the press on something that was no more than a noise maker?  Literally and figuratively...  Simply put, there is no sound strategy in that effort, nor is there much of an ROI.

And so as a result, we'll have to compare the performance of the Radeon 9800 Pro for you here, versus the fastest thing NVIDIA has out to the retail channel to date, the GeForce 4 Ti 4600.  When you think about it, the performance metrics with this comparison, are much more realistic.  That is to say, since you can't buy a GeForce FX 5800 Ultra, the benchmark numbers are not much more than reference point at best.

With that said, if we ever do get out hands on a GeForce FX 5800 Ultra, we'll surely compare it to this family of product from ATi as well, so you can get the complete picture.  On a side note, we are in possession of the NVIDIA Quadro FX, which we will be covering versus ATi's latest FireGL (based on the R300 core) product shortly.
 

Drivers and Test Setup
Catalyst 3.1 And Our Test System

We utilized the following hardware for our test-bed.  Windows XP Professional w/ SP1, along with Direct X 9, were used for the OS and Direct X API.

HotHardware Test System:
Pentium 4 Northwood Processor at 2.8GHz
Asus P4G8X - "Granite Bay" - i7205 Motherboard
1GB of Corsair PC3500 DDR RAM @ CAS2
ATi Radeon 9800 Pro
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro
NVIDIA GeForce 4 Ti 4600

30GB 7200 RPM IBM Hard Drive
Windows XP Professional with SP1
DirectX 9.0
ATI Radeon Driver - Catalyst 3.1 Version 7.83 for Radeon 9700 Pro  WHQL Driver
ATi Radeon Driver - Catalyst 3.1 Version 7.84 for Radeon 9800 Pro  WHQL Candidate
NVIDIA Detonator Drivers Version 41.09 WHQL Driver
Intel Chipset Driver v4.30.1006
 

ATi Catalyst 3.1 Drivers

       

The above control panels are a few snaps from the latest version of the Cat 3.1 drivers from ATi.  Nothing has really changed, in terms of functionality, versus the drivers currently on ATi's site for the Radeon 9700 series.  However please note, we had to use the 7.84 version Cat 3.1 drivers for the Radeon 9800 Pro and these would not install on the 9700 Pro board.  So we had to fall back to the 7.83 release of drivers for that board.

In Game Screenshots With AA and Anisotropic Filtering
The best looking graphics around

We always like to share some in game footage with each new 3D Graphics Card Showcase, here at HotHardware.com.  Below, we've fired up Unreal Tounament 2003 and Unreal II: The Awakening, for your viewing pleasure.  We've taken the shots here, with no AA, 4X AA and 6X AA enabled.  All captures were take with 16X Anisotropic Filtering on as well

UT2003 No AA

UT2003 4X AA

UT2003 6X AA

 

Unreal II No AA

 

Unreal II 4X AA

 

Unreal II 6X AA

You can easily see the benefits of ATi's great looking AA methods in these screens.  The difference between no AA and 4X AA is very dramatic, with only subtle benefits for 6X AA smoothness versus 4X mode.  Perhaps a Racing or Flight Sim would benefit more from 6X AA, as it would limit "texture swimming" better as well.  However, in these First Person Shooter at 1024X768 and higher, the sweet spot is probably 4X AA, in terms of image quality versus frame rate.  However, both games were completely playable with 6X AA and 16X AF on, up to 1280X1024, with the Radeon 9800 Pro.  The image quality at this resolution, with this level of pixel processing turned on, is really fantastic.

Enough already...  Benchmarks anyone?

 

Benchmarks! - 3DMark


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