From this point forward in this article, we'll be focusing on the performance of ATI's new Radeon X1800 XT, X1800 XL , and X1600 XT versus their previous generation of cards, and virtually all of NVIDIA's current high-end offerings. There's lots of data on the proceeding pages, so bear down for the long haul...
|For most of our recent video card-related articles, we've stuck to using games, or benchmarks based on actual game engines, to gauge overall performance. The problem with using this approach exclusively is that some advanced 3D features may not be fully tested, because the game engines currently in use tend not to use the absolute latest features available within cutting-edge graphics hardware. In an effort to reveal raw shader performance, which is nearly impossible to do using only the games on the market today, we've incorporated ToMMTi-System's ShaderMark v2.1 into our benchmarking suite for this article. ShaderMark is a Direct 9.0 pixel shader benchmark that exclusively uses code written in Microsoft's High Level Shading Language (HLSL) to produce its imagery.|
ATI's new Radeon X1800 XT didn't fare very well against NVIDIA's GeForce 7800 GTX in most of the ShaderMark v2.1 tests. In the first 19 tests, the Radeon X1800 XT is between 3% and 37% slower than NVIDIA's current flagship GPU. Although ATI claims the X1000 family is equipped with more efficient shader engines, the fact that the 7800 GTX has 50% more shader pipelines than the X1800 XT is too much for the Radeon X1800 XT to handle, even though the latter's core is clocked much higher. In the last six tests, where flow-control and multiple passes though the pipeline are necessary, the Radeon X1800 XT does much better, however. In the last few tests, the Radeon X1800 XT is between 1.3% and 38% faster than the GeForce 7800 GTX.