|Aquamark 3 comes to us by way of game developer Massive Development. Massive's release of the original Aquanox in 1999 wasn't very well received by the gaming community, but it was one of the first games to implement DX8-class shaders. This led to the creation of Aquamark 2 - a benchmark previously used by many analysts. Because the Aquamark benchmarks are based on an actual game engine, they must support old and new video cards alike. Thus, the latest version of Aquamark, Aquamark 3, utilizes not only DirectX 9-class shaders, but DirectX 8 and DirectX 7, as well. We ran this benchmark at resolutions of 1,024 x 768 and 1,600 x 1,200 with no anti-aliasing, with 4x AA, and with 4X AA and 16X aniso enabled concurrently.|
** Please note in the following tests, we took scores with ATi's new Catalyst A.I. driver set to the "high" and "low" settings in the control panel. In the graphs below "4X AA/ 8X AF (High)" is representative of Cat. A.I. settings for the X700 set to "high" in the control panel. 4X AA / 8X AF (Low) is representative of Catalyst A.I. settings at "low" for the X700 and the standard 4X AA / 8X Aniso Filtering settings in NVIDIA's driver control panel.
With Aquamark 3 it's a fairly close nip and tuck race for the most part, with the exception of the 4X AA / 8X AF setting at 1,600 X 1,200. At that high-end setting, the 6600 GT's fill rate advantage didn't seem to have much of an impact, as the X700 XT powered past the new NVIDIA mid-range card with a 35% lead. Also of note is that the Catalyst A.I "high" setting didn't make much difference because, quite frankly, the driver doesn't actually detect AquaMark 3's engine. However, although there is no application-specific tweak that the Catalyst A.I. drivers implement in this test, there is a difference in texture filtering algorithms that does afford the card an ever-so-slight gain in performance.