Video Card: ATI RADEON 9800XT & 9600XT Review :: Performance

10-29-2003 · Category: Hardware - Video Cards

By Benjamin Sun

We've added a few new benchmarks to our review suite. Aquamark 3, by Massive Entertainment is a basically a DirectX 9 benchmark with many features supported by DX9 cards. Complex multimaterial Shaders, Volumetric Fog, Masked environmental mapping, vertex and pixel lighting are just some of the features that this new benchmark supports. Until the release of Half Life 2, this may be one of the most useful benchmarks out there. Final Fantasy XI Benchmark 2 is based upon Squaresoft's upcoming Final Fantasy MMORPG. It's not really a DirectX 9 benchmark, but it's still a very beautiful benchmark showing off the artwork of the Japanese artists of Squaresoft. Gunmetal 2 is a recently released game that has some DX9 elements.

The test system is as up to date as possible. While I wanted to test with Catalyst 3.8 drivers, I was unable to get the drivers in time for the writing of this review. I was able to complete a few tests with the 3.8s and in most cases the performance was within 1% of the Catalyst 3.8 drivers. Once I get more time with the card, I may do an article on 3.8 drivers and the new features of the drivers.

As there has been a lot of controversy regarding NVIDIA drivers and optimizations in different benchmarks I decided to run a variety of benchmarks. The second thing I did was use the older 44.03 drivers. While 45.23 drivers are available, there have been many instances of interesting image quality problems with this driver in games like UT2003, Splinter Cell and problems with benchmarks like Aquamark 3 and 3dmark 2003 that are not present in the earlier drivers.

Test System:

  • P4 3.2 GHz 800 MHz FSB with HT enabled
  • 1GB Corsair DDR3500 in Dual Channel mode
  • Onboard Sound Disabled
  • DFI LanParty II 875Pro
  • 40GB WD HDD
  • 16x DVDROM
  • DirectX 9.0b
  • Windows XP with SP1
  • 44.03 Detonator drivers for NVIDIA cards
  • Catalyst 3.7 drivers for ATI cards