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DX 10 Choice: Which Pill should I swallow: Red? Green? - Page 7

Poll Results: Which DX 10 Pill Should I Swallow: Red or Green?

 
  • 50% (56)
    Red..stay true...spend crazy money later upgrading
  • 49% (54)
    Green: revert....get on top now! Forget Upgrades...you'll sell that board in a week anyway
110 Total Votes  
post #61 of 79
Lets see that member CD... I know you've got pics.
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post #62 of 79
Thread Starter 
Have you seen Anaconda the movie?

nuff said
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post #63 of 79
damn thats big
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post #64 of 79
Gotta be Red
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Vostro 1500
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post #65 of 79
Thread Starter 
Ridiculously expensive GFX will have that effect...temporarily...
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post #66 of 79
well it should stay up once you beat up a couple gtx owners
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post #67 of 79
Thread Starter 
That's a risk I am willing to take
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post #68 of 79
I wouldnt go DX10 at the moment..especially hardware. I would let it mature for a while before spending crazy money.
post #69 of 79
Thread Starter 
Too late...crazy money spent...
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post #70 of 79
better late than never ...... Check this:



OK, first of all thnx to: d44ve




Introduction


We are going to make this evaluation short, sweet and to the point since we have already performed a major evaluation of the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT. Please read that evaluation first to get the lowdown on the new ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT video card and all the specifications therein.


In our initial evaluation we made comparisons with a 640 MB GeForce 8800 GTS as well as a GeForce 8800 GTX. We found the performance of the 640 MB GeForce 8800 GTS bested the Radeon HD 2900 XT in everything we threw at it. Our conclusion was that the 640 MB 8800 GTS was the better value, you simply get more for your money. What if there is an even better value now?


The ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT is closer in price to the 640 MB GeForce 8800 GTS. At the time of launch we did not feel it was explicitly needed to compare the Radeon HD 2900 XT to the 320 MB version of the 8800 GTS, after all the only difference is memory capacity between the two 8800 GTS configurations. However, prices on the 320 MB 8800 GTS have fallen drastically since that launch. You can find video cards such as this factory overclocked Leadtek for $259.99 with all the rebates, or this standard clocked EVGA for $289.99 before rebate and $269.99 after rebate.


When you compare this to the lowest price we could find on Newegg of the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT, $409.99 you will see a very large gap in price. What is surprising though is the large gap in performance as well, and it doesn’t swing the way you would typically think. In our minds we are taught that you get what you pay for, the more expensive item will be the better item, but in this case, we might be seeing a complete reversal of that!


We know from testing that there is little performance difference between the 320 MB and 640 MB GeForce 8800 GTS video cards. The GPU is exactly the same between both, same clock speeds, the only difference is the amount of RAM. With the performance of the 320 MB 8800 GTS being close to the 640 MB 8800 GTS, and prices being so low, we had to see how this compares to the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT which is more expensive.


We are going to jump straight to gaming on the next page. For system setup specifications look here. We are using the latest drivers officially supplied by ATI which are known as 8.37.4.2, these drivers have all the performance tweaks that are found in 8.38 which have been rolled up into Cat 7.5.

__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________

Page One





Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

(DirectX 9)


Oblivion uses the multi-platform Gamebryo game engine. Oblivion features DirectX 9 shaders and Havok physics. The engine supports lush vegetation, soft shadows, and high dynamic range lighting (HDR). Oblivion also features SpeedTree for rendering trees.


For testing we have chosen to do a manual run-through riding horseback from outside the Imperial City to Chorrol to Bruma. This run-through allows us to push the hardware as much as the game can. While this is an outdoor run-through we do make sure to test indoor situations in our gameplay analysis as well. We have found that turning on the torch indoors with HDR lighting takes a big hit on performance in some situations. We make sure to test this scenario. You really have to look at the game as two different scenarios, Outdoors and Indoors.







In Oblivion we found the 320 MB GeForce 8800 GTS to match the 640 MB GeForce 8800 GTS’s gameplay experience. Framerates were slightly lower, but still within an acceptable range for smooth gameplay. The framerates are more on par with the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT, but notice that the Radeon HD 2900 XT had to run with lower grass detail. The GeForce 8800 GTS 320 MB and 640 MB handled grass performance faster than the Radeon HD 2900 XT in our experiences. This is odd because the Radeon HD 2900 XT has more memory bandwidth, and the grass, using alpha textures, is a memory bandwidth limited function. Despite knowing that, it is what it is, the 320 MB GeForce 8800 GTS is able to deliver a better gaming experience in Oblivion.




Image Quality






The difference between the lower 25% grass setting and half grass setting can clearly be seen in the screenshots above. As you zoom out farther in third person view the grass disappears quicker with less grass distance. At 50% grass the grass is all visible at full zoom out.

__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ____

Page Two


Battlefield 2142

(DirectX 9)


Battlefield 2142, 4th of the Battlefield series games, is a future environment first person shooter. For our gameplay evaluation we found settings that would be playable in single player mode as well as very large player number multiplayer games.


For AF we will force this from the control panel in order to receive higher levels like 16X which there are no options for in-game. We will also force AA from the control panel if the in-game slider does not give us enough options.


Our manual-run through graphed gameplay evaluation will be an entire map on the “Cerbere Landing” single player mission.






There is no mistaking the advantages both GeForce 8800 GTS based video cards bring to Battlefield 2142 over the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT. Even the lowly 320 MB GeForce 8800 GTS is able to smoothly run Battlefield 2142 at 1600x1200 with 16X Transparency Supersampling Antialiasing with full in-game settings. The ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT was able to manage 4X Performance Adaptive AA at 1600x1200. In Performance Adaptive AA mode the Radeon HD 2900 XT operates with fewer alpha texture samples taken than the multisample edge antialiasing. So in this case it is taking the equivalent of 2X AA samples on alpha textures, and 4X AA on edge samples. Compare this to 16X AA samples on edge and alpha textures of both GeForce 8800 GTS based video cards. The performance just simply is not there to go any higher with the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT.


Note that the short downspike to 23 FPS on the 320 MB GeForce 8800 GTS was experienced while standing directly over a grenade while exploding, a situation which results in the character dying, so no loss in the gameplay experience there because of the framerate drop.




Image Quality


Screenshots below are in PNG format to eliminate compression artifacts and can range in file size of 1-3 MB.





The above screenshots illustrate the superior image quality of 16X Transparency Supersampling in Battlefield 2142.



__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________


Page Three


S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl

(DirectX 9)


S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl is a highly-anticipated game by GSC that was recently released in the USA. THQ published the game on Wednesday, March 21st 2007, and by the end of the week, it was the number 1 selling PC game, and the 8th best selling game on any platform.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. takes place in the "zone", a depopulated area around the burned out sarcophagus of the famous nuclear power reactor at Chernobyl, in Russia. It is an open-ended, non-linear style of game, viewed through the first person. It combines some of the role-playing elements of Oblivion with tactical combat strongly reminiscent of Counter-Strike. Players must eat and rest to maintain their energy level, and they must use bandages to patch up lacerations, and anti-radiation medication (or Vodka!) to counteract the effects of the radiation contamination that is so rampant in the area. Mutants, military, and mercenaries roam the area, hunting for Stalkers and artifacts.


The game effectively creates a "dirty" look and feel, and the graphics are quite demanding on hardware with full DX9 dynamic lighting support. Our manual run-through consists of the first few missions the player undertakes and goes between a small village, a country road, a farm, and a tunnel.



Rendering Modes


S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is an interesting beast to test since it supports some rather large differences in rendering ability. There are three “Render” modes, “Static Lighting”, “Object Dynamic Lighting” and “Full Dynamic Lighting”. The Static Lighting mode runs in DirectX 8 mode with light maps. The Object Dynamic Lighting mode runs in DirectX 9 mode with light maps. Finally the Full Dynamic Lighting mode runs in DirectX 9 mode with full dynamic lights.


There is a very large difference between Static Lighting and Object Dynamic Lighting in this game, the former uses DX8 and the latter DX9. With Static Lighting the options of “Lighting Distance” and “Shadow Quality” are disabled. With Object Dynamic Lighting these options are available. These two options have a very large impact on the visual quality in the game. Without them, running in DX8 mode under Static Lighting, the game has a uniformed lighting scheme that does not change with the environment. It basically gives the game a ‘flat’ kind of appearance, there is less bumpmapping and techniques that give a 3D feel to textures on objects. The game also looks very dated under Static Lighting. However, Static Lighting provides a tremendous performance boost. Bumping up to the Object Dynamic Lighting takes a very large performance hit.






In our testing today this is the only game where we saw a significant performance difference between the 320 MB GeForce 8800 GTS and 640 MB GeForce 8800 GTS. We had to lower some settings with the 320 MB GeForce 8800 GTS in order to receive smooth gameplay. Notably we had to lower the Anisotropic Filtering level to 4X instead of 8X on the 640 MB GeForce 8800 GTS. This is somewhat baffling since AF is more process intensive than bandwidth intensive like AA. However, it seems higher levels of AF did affect performance in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. greater with less physical video card memory. We also had to lower grass to 50% density for performance reasons, this lessens the fullness of the grass in the world outdoors.


Though the 320 MB GeForce 8800 GTS was slower than the 640 MB GeForce 8800 GTS it was still much faster than the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. With the Radeon HD 2900 XT we not only had to drop to 1280x1024 but we had to lower the rendering mode to “Objects Dynamic Lighting” instead of “Full Dynamic Lighting” that both GeForce 8800 GTS based video cards enjoyed. Dropping to this mode disables Sun Shadows and Grass Shadows and uses lightmaps instead of dynamic lights. We were however able to run at 8X AF thanks to the 512 MB framebuffer. The experience though was just not as good with this video card in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.



Image Quality


Screenshots below are in PNG format to eliminate compression artifacts and can range in file size of 1-3 MB.





The above screenshots illustrate the difference between full dynamic lighting and objects dynamic rendering. Shadow detail is greatly reduced with all objects that cast shadows, including trees. In the second screenshot you can really see the difference between lightmaps and real-time dynamic lighting.


__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________


Page Four


continued...

Lost Planet Demo

(DirectX 9)


Lost Planet is a popular XBOX 360 game that is coming to the PC this summer. The demo for this game was recently released in both a DirectX 9 version and DirectX 10 version. This is one of the first games that will be released new with DirectX 10 support in Vista. This game is wildly popular, and fun. The story goes like this:



Rescued from a veil of ice with only fragments of memory, Wayne Holden struggles to recover his past on a blizzard-ridden world swarming with deadly aliens. With only treacherous snow pirates and the mysterious NEVEC Corporation remaining, can anyone be trusted or is everything lost?



This is a third person shooter that spans across many different terrain types indoors and out with a lot of particles, effects, weather and details. The game supports HDR, motion blur, intense soft shadows and some of the best smoke and explosions we’ve seen in a game.


Today we are going to test the DirectX 9 version in Windows XP. One neat capability of the demo is that it has a performance test inside. This performance test is unique however, it does not work like other scripted “timedemo” playback loops that you are use to. This test is one of the first performance tests to run in real-time using all the features and capabilities of the game. All of the game’s AI and physics run in real-time as they would while you are playing the game. That means that each time you run the test it will produce slightly different results, just like a FRAPS run-through, because everything is dynamic. We have tested this performance test up against a manual run-through and have found it to be in-line with doing a manual FRAPS run-through, we get close to the same results.


Though it acts like a FRAPS run-through it still takes the human element out, which is part of the equation when actually playing the game. Framerates are one thing, but actually getting in the game and “feeling” it is also important to the gameplay experience and really the best way to find what settings are playable in a game and how it looks. Therefore for this game we will dive into the game, play it, like we do other games to find the playable settings. But for the graph below we are actually going to use the performance test to show the framerates.







There are many settings in Lost Planet and some of them drastically alter performance depending on the situation, indoors or outdoors. We found that overall in the snow covered landscape outdoors performance is low in this game, but once you move indoors performance skyrockets up. However, there is one section in the performance test where indoors performance is very slow; this is in the second “Cave” test. We suspect the full version game may include many levels like this so it is an important part of testing performance in this game. Because of the difference in performance between outdoor and indoor environments you will find that to keep gameplay smooth throughout the game you will have really high indoor framerates and low 30’ish FPS framerates outdoors.


In our testing we wanted to raise every in-game option possible for the highest gameplay experience, even if we had to sacrifice resolution. We found that we could almost get everything at the highest level if we dropped to 1280x960 on all three video cards; this was just simply the best balance in resolution to achieve higher in-game settings. Moving to 1600x1200 meant we would have had to drop many in-game settings making the game look bad.


It seems that Motion Blur and HDR cause a very large performance hit in this game. We opted to keep the HDR level at High and move the Motion Blur level down to Low, this really helped the framerates. The motion blur, while a neat effect, can be distracting and annoying at times and in our opinion a little overdone. So turning it to Low actually helps by increasing the framerates and making the game look better in our opinion. We also had to drop Shadow Resolution to Medium; we found this to affect performance as well and did not see a large difference in image quality by lowering it to medium. Besides that we kept AF at 8X and found the game to be playable on all three video cards at these same settings.


Overall we found some interesting results between the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT and GeForce 8800 GTS in the Lost Planet Demo. It seems that enabling 2X AA on the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT causes a very large performance hit, causing the framerates to hit the teens. While on the 320 MB GeForce 8800 GTS enabling 2X AA we found only maybe a 5 FPS drop in performance. It was enough not to be playable, but it is interesting the HD 2900 XT is taking a much larger performance hit once AA is enabled, losing about 15 FPS in our testing.


Without AA enabled though we noticed something else interesting. It seems that ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT, for the most part, is faster than both GeForce 8800 GTS based video cards in this demo in the outdoor environments. However, in that second performance test “Cave” we found the HD 2900 XT to struggle and drop down below both GeForce 8800 GTS based video cards. You can see this on the graph starting at the 177 second mark and on.


I honestly don’t know what this will mean for the full version game. If I were to take a guess right now with the DirectX 9 version it would seem that outdoors the HD 2900 XT may be a little faster, but indoors with a lot of shader and HDR usage the HD 2900 XT could struggle. I don’t know specifically what effects are being done in the “Cave” test, but from appearance it looks like a lot of occlusion mapping, HDR and high texture detail.



Image Quality


Screenshots below are in PNG format to eliminate compression artifacts and can range in file size of 1-3 MB.



In the screenshot above we are comparing medium resolution shadows versus high resolution shadows. The major difference we see between them is that with the high resolution shadow screenshot the edges of the shadow are better defined which makes details like the gun turret more clear and defined. Throughout the game this is what we witnessed, with character shadows the shadow was more defined on the edge with the high resolution shadows. Since you are running through this game blasting everything in sight however it really wasn’t any loss of the gameplay experience running at the medium shadow resolution in this demo.






Now we come to low motion blur versus high motion blur. Motion blur is something that is experienced in motion; it is hard to capture the differences in a screenshot since velocity of the object affects the blur in a static screenshot. Still, we managed to grab a representative of the extremeness amount of blurring that can happen when you have high motion blur enabled versus low motion blur. There is simply a point in which the motion blurring just becomes too much, in our opinion low looks much better, and less annoying while playing the game.






Here is a comparison between the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT and GeForce 8800 GTS 320 MB. The only difference we see between them is that the Radeon HD 2900 XT is producing a darker character shadow and darker character texture tone. This could simply be a product of different gamma levels between the cards, though in the game we used the default brightness and contrast levels and made no manipulation of either. We will have to examine the full version game in more detail to see if this difference continues in other parts of the game.






(Radeon HD 2900 XT)






(GeForce 8800 GTS 320 MB)


Here are some full-size screenshots to look at for fun



__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________


Page Five


Overall Performance Summary


In Oblivion we found the 320 MB and 640 MB GeForce 8800 GTS based video cards to perform faster than the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT. Oddly enough they were able to handle higher grass distance settings in Oblivion despite the Radeon HD 2900 XT having much higher memory bandwidth.


Battlefield 2142 had a large difference in the gameplay experience between the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT and both GeForce 8800 GTS video cards. Even with the much less expensive 320 MB GeForce 8800 GTS we were able to play the game smoothly at 16X Transparency Supersampling at 1600x1200 with no problems at all in intense gun fights with massive explosions. The more expensive ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT could not handle anything higher than 4X Performance Adaptive AA at 1600x1200.


S.T.A.L.K.E.R. also proved to separate these video cards by performance. The ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT was clearly the weaker performing video card. We had to lower the rendering quality to “Objects Dynamic Lighting” and run at 1280x1024 to receive playable performance. Unfortunately this does diminish the gameplay experience compared to the GeForce 8800 GTS based video cards. We were able to take the game up to full rendering quality and play at 1600x1200 with NVIDIA based cards. With the 320 MB version we had to drop the AF level to 4X and grass density to 50%.


Lost Planet is a fun game, plain and simple; we had a blast playing through the demo. If this is the future of gaming then we are very happy. There is no question that next generation titles will require fast hardware to keep up with the intense detail. This demo presented some interesting results for us. We found that the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT really does take a large performance hit when enabling AA; to the point where it just isn’t a viable option right now. The GeForce 8800 GTS based video cards on the other hand don’t take as great a hit and some gamers may find 2X AA or more playable depending on what framerates you are comfortable with.


In Lost Planet’s outdoor areas the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT, without AA, is slightly better performing than both GeForce 8800 GTS based video cards. However, in that one indoor area of the performance test called “Cave” we saw the framerates suffer and perform slower than the GeForce 8800 GTS based video cards. We cannot wait until the full version game is released so we can test all the levels and see how the video cards really compare throughout the entire game.



Display Resolution – 1920x1200


In our first evaluation we tested up to 1920x1200 resolution. 1920x1200 is the sweet spot for video cards with 512 MB or greater, of RAM. The 320 MB GeForce 8800 GTS does become memory capacity bottlenecked at this resolution and beyond, unlike the Radeon HD 2900 XT and 640 MB GeForce 8800 GTS. In our experiences we do have to lower in-game quality settings moving from 1600x1200 to 1920x1200 on the 320 MB GeForce 8800 GTS. However the impact is not that great in all cases.


For example in Oblivion instead of running at 2X AA at 1600x1200 we have to disable AA at 1920x1200 but can maintain all the same in-game options in the game. For S.T.A.L.K.E.R. we see the largest hit in performance at 1920x1200 and find we have to drop to Object Dynamic Lighting. Performance at this resolution trades blows with the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT. For example in Oblivion we can run at 2X AA at 1920x1200 on the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT but we have to disable grass completely. With the 320 MB GeForce 8800 GTS we have to disable AA but we can run at 50% grass.


S.T.A.L.K.E.R. on the other hand shows a clear advantage with the 320 MB GeForce 8800 GTS at 1920x1200. We are able to run at Objects Dynamic Lighting with maximum in-game settings except for 50% grass. However, on the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT we have to drop to Objects Dynamic Lighting and decrease view distance, object detail, grass density, lighting and shadow quality to a “Lowest” setting.


Our conclusion from this is that at 1920x1200 the 320 MB GeForce 8800 GTS is more strained due to its memory capacity, but in some games it is still much faster than the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT, while in others they trade blows back-and-forth.



Video Card Value


This evaluation is the embodiment of what video card value is to the gamer. We have a video card, the 320 MB GeForce 8800 GTS at around $289 providing a noticeable gameplay experience advantage compared to the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT that costs $409. In some cases the performance gap is very wide (S.T.A.K.E.R. and BF 2142), in other games performance is closer (Oblivion, Lost Planet), but in most cases the 320 MB GeForce 8800 GTS is providing higher framerates than the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT sometimes equating to a better gaming experience.


The 8800 GTS 320MB video card is $120 less expensive and provides a gaming experience that is equal to or superior to the HD 2900 XT. Not only that, but as our original evaluation proved the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT uses much more power than a GeForce 8800 GTS! The 8800 GTS is simply more efficient both in terms of power and performance.



The Bottom Line


We hoped newer driver revisions would improve performance on the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT. With the newer driver we used for this evaluation we did not see any “magic” happen when it comes to real world gaming experiences at resolutions at and above 1600x1200. The ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT is not even a match for even the much less expensive and much less power hungry 320 MB GeForce 8800 GTS.
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