Tomb Raider: AOD
is Back! As Crappy as Ever!
Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness won't be winning any
"Game of the Year" awards, it is one of the more
advanced DirectX games currently available. We've
recorded a custom demo of Lara jogging through an indoor
garden area in the "Prague3" map. When using the Pixel
Shader 2.0 code path, this area of the game utilizes a
DOF (depth of field) blurring effect to enhance the
sense of depth and size. We ran our custom demo at a
resolution of 1024x768 and then again at 1600x1200,
using both the Pixel Shader 1.4 and 2.0 code paths (with
and without 2x anti-aliasing in the PS 2.0 tests).
We saw more of
the same in the Tomb Raider benchmark using our custom
timedemo. The S8 and S8 Nitro performed adequately
using the PS 1.4 (DX8) code path, but things took a turn for
the worse when using the more complex PS 2.0 (DX9) path.
At 1024x768, regardless of the test configuration, the S3
cards were significantly outperformed by the 9600 XT and
5900 XT, but they almost caught the 5700 Ultra using the PS
2.0 code path. At 1600x1200, the DeltaChromes, 5700
Ultra and 9600 XT all performed similarly, but the frame
rates were so low, it doesn't really matter. These
cards were not designed with high-resolution DX9 gaming in
After seeing the
benchmark scores, evaluating the drivers, inspecting their
in-game image quality and spending some time gaming with the
S3 DeltaChrome S8 and S8 Nitro, we were left disappointed
but not completely without hope. At their respective
price points of $169.00 MSRP for the S8 Nitro and $149.00
MSRP for the vanilla S8, we simply cannot think of a
compelling reason to purchase either one of these cards,
when both the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra and Radeon 9600 XT can
be purchased for less than $150.00 at multiple on-line
resellers. Cost has to be a driving factor for S3 with
this card and by all rights, they should have some advantage
there. DeltaChrome MSRPs probably won't be all that
indicative of street pricing in the near future. About
the only thing DeltaChrome offers over the competition
technology wise, is HDTV output, but we're fairly certain
that's not enough of a reason to sway much of the market
toward this product.
We do however,
think the DeltaChrome architecture has very real potential.
Being built on a .13 micron process, with only 70 million
transistors comprising the graphics core (plus or minus
10 million transistors - S3 hasn't published an exact
number), there has got to be some headroom to ramp up
clock speeds considerably. At 325MHz, the S8 Nitro
almost caught the Radeon 9600 XT in a few tests. The
R360 based GPU powering the Radeon 9600 XT is comprised of a
similar number of transistors, yet it is clocked a full
175MHz higher. With more mature drivers, and with
higher core and memory clock speeds, the S8 could easily
compete with a Radeon 9600 XT. In its current form
though, the DeltaChrome is simply not a contender in the
mainstream market just yet. We're hopeful that S3 can
rise to the occasion and wring more performance out of their
drivers. We'll be here update you on their progress
with DeltaChrome in the months ahead.
Into HotHardware's PC Hardware Forum!
Tweaked, Overclocked & Ready to Rock!