and DX9 Benchmarks
Aquamark 3 comes to us by the way of
Massive's release of the game Aquanox in 1999 was
scoffed at by critics, yet was one of the first to
implement DX8 shaders, which led to the creation of
Aquamark, another benchmark used by many on line
journalists. Since the Aquamark benchmarks are based on
a real gaming environment, they must support old and new
cards and the Direct X features they support.
Thus, Aquamark 3 utilizes not only DirectX 9 shaders,
but DirectX 8 and 7 effect as well, depending on which
of these is most efficient to produce the desired image.
There is no question, AquaMark3 runs an impressive
looking game engine and a very flexible utility for
measuring "general" DirectX gaming performance.
NVIDIA 4X AA, 8X AF
ATi 4X AA, 8X AF
We wanted to
provide you with two side by sides captures from AQM3, with
ATi's Catalyst drivers, as well as NVIDIA's new Det FX
52.16s. Again historically, NVIDIA had serious image
quality issues with dark drab washed out textures being
rendered by the Detonator 51.75 drivers, versus ATI's bright
detailed and significantly more accurate renderings.
However, once again, if you look at the comparison shots
above, NVIDIA's image quality is absolutely on the level of
ATi's now, with AA and Aniso Filtering looking as good as
Let's see what
this IQ improvement did to the numbers.
It was almost
too predictable. As you can see the GeForce FX 5950
Ultra has the horse-power to edge out the Radeon 9800XT at
default settings, even at high resolution. However,
when you invoke AA and Aniso Filtering, the tables turn
completely inversed. While NVIDIA's GeForce FX 5950
Ultra enjoys a 10% lead at default settings with no AA or
AF, the card takes a 10 - 25% beating, when you enable "SmoothVision"
versus "Intellisample HCT", in this benchmark. So much
for the marketing. The numbers don't lie on this test.
Anisotropic Filtering again, seems to hinder the GeForce FX
5950 and 5900 the most, although clearly they have the
overall fill rate capability, as is exhibited in the default
scores, at both resolutions.
- Finally on the PC, Where it Belongs
For many gamers out
there, the release of Halo marks the end of a long wait,
since it was originally released as an Xbox exclusive a
few years back. No additional patches or tweaks
are needed to use Halo as a benchmark,at this point in
time. Gearbox has happily included all of the
information needed in their readme files and you can run
a canned recorded demo they provide, driven from a
command executable call. The benchmark runs
through four of the cut-scenes from the game, after
which the average frame rate is displayed to the user.
We ran the Halo timedemo twice, once at 1024x768 and
again at 1280x1024, which are resolutions that we feel
most players will be using for gaming in this great
looking new title. At 1600X1200 currently, in a
heavy fire-fight situation even with these high end
cards, frame rate can drop down below acceptable levels.
Also, unfortunately Halo
for the PC is another DX9 driven title that doesn't support
Anti-Aliasing all that well as of yet. Gearbox has
disabled it in the engine as of this point in time, but will
hopefully come back with a patch to enable it with decent
performance levels, in the future. As it stands now,
if you force AA on with Halo, the frame rate hit is enormous
and you don't get the benefit of AA in the image quality.
In standard game play, with
out image quality enhancements like Aniso Filtering, the
GFFX 5950U can't quite compete with the Radeon 9800XT,
although the race is fairly "nip and tuck". On the
other hand, again when you enable Aniso Filtering at any mid
range or high end resolution level, the Radeons of both
flavors, standard and XT variants, take the lead from about
10 - 20%. Again however, it seems as though if NVIDIA
can grind out better performance from their Aniso algorithms
and maintain the same good image quality we've shown your
earlier here, they do have the overall horse-power in
general, to give the Radeon 9800 line a run for its money in
this great looking new DX9 enhanced game.
Overclocking With Halo
And The Wrap-up!