R420 & The Test

As previously mentioned, the R420 occupies an interesting position in ATI's GPU history, as it's neither something completely new, nor is it a complete rehash of a previous GPU. The R300 was a very strong design for ATI, so they had no need to replace the design completely when it only needed to be moderately upgraded to meet ATI's needs. The end result, of course, was additional pipelines, some new features, and expanding the pixel shading abilities of the card past the base Shader Model 2.0 specification. In theory then, the R420 should behave fairly similar to what we saw in the R300.

While the R420 launched when there was already ample and growing support in the marketplace for pixel and vertex shading, virtually all of our games this time around use shaders to some degree. The specific games/benchmarks tested this time were:

  • X2: The Threat
  • Final Fantasy XI, Benchmark 2
  • Doom 3
  • Half-Life 2
  • Far Cry
  • Battlefield 2
  • 3dMark 2005
  • D3DAFTester
Our benchmarking setup for this series remains unchanged, and is once again the following:

Benchmarking Testbed
Processor: AMD Athlon 64 3400+(S754)
Motherboard: Abit KV8-MAX3
Memory: 2GB DDR400 RAM 2:2:2
Hard Drive: 120GB Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9
Power Supply: Antec TruePower 430W

All tests were done at 1280x1024 unless otherwise noted.

Index D3DAFTester
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  • lombric - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    It may be interesting to see the evolution in cpu discharge under various video format and in image quality.

    I know that the introduction of AVIVO in recents drivers was very efficient for the X1xx serie but what about the R420? No chance to have similar results?
  • Egglick - Friday, February 24, 2006 - link

    As far as I know, the X1x00 cards are the only ones with AVIVO, or at least the entire feature set.

    So does that mean that a $80 X1300 has better video playback than a X850XT PE?? Yep.
  • pkw111 - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    ... but their conclusion is rather boring. True it may be good solid research, but how about some studies that give colorful results, liek comparing the non-offical ATI drivers, such as WarCat, Omega, ngo, etc.
  • Egglick - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    I think it's a little too early to make guesses about the R5xx series right now. Don't forget that both the X800Pro and the 9700Pro are R300 based, and what we're looking at is a cumulation of 3+ years of tweaking and optimizing. The R580 has been out for what, a month?

    We could still see very radical performance boosts for R5xx based cards, particularly the R580 with it's unique shader architecture. It's also possible that performance boosts in new games will be even larger once the successive driver has been optimized for it. Basically, it's a whole new architecture, and what may have been true for both of these R300 based cards may not be true at all for R5xx.

    Also, the CCC is garbage. Boo to ATI for forcing us to use it.
  • DieBoer - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    I just wish ati would stop wasting time on optimising 3dmark and start with games. No serious gamer would take notice at all at 3dm scores only the average joe.
  • Spoelie - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    The most horrifying thing about CCC is the horrendous memory usage. I had been using the normal control panel all this time but recently formatted and downloaded the latest drivers. WindowsXP's memory usage after bootup went from ~70 something (not much had been installed yet) to a full fledged 200mb!! Only from installing the f*cked up driver.

    After some tweaking (disabling all ATi's added services and the CCC entry in the registry's startup) I'm back at around ~95mb after startup, which I was at before the format.

    Still find it incredible in what kind of default configuration the CCC 'ships'.
  • Questar - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    Your saw rhings that weren't there - XP's footprint is much larger than 70MB.
  • Spoelie - Friday, February 24, 2006 - link

    Not really, once you start tweaking and don't have all programs installed, around 70 is really not that much of a stretch without programs open. Even so, even if the task manager for some reason is lying about the absolute numbers, there was a difference of 130mb just by installing a driver.
  • abhaxus - Wednesday, February 22, 2006 - link

    i find it surprising that you did not run the test with a dual core CPU to see if the dual core optimizations actually did anything in the new drivers. i know there was a writeup on them awhile back with the 5.12s i believe but i'd like to see if newer versions got any further improvement.
  • SonicIce - Wednesday, February 22, 2006 - link

    You can create a short 300 frame timedemo for Farcry and play it back with the http://www.hardwareoc.hu/index.php/p/download/st/....">Farcry bench tool in screenshot mode. This will give you perfectly consistant results. I did it once to compare the shadows on the weapon.

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