Test Configuration (Finally an update! 🙂

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Test Configuration (Finally an update! 🙂

For those of you who have been following the video card reviews we’ve been writing here at AMDMB, you’ll be happy to know that there are a number of changes starting in this review. First, is our new test system! It’s been updated to reflect what is increasingly a standard amoung AMD users (motherboard with 200MHz FSB, Barton core CPU, DDR400 RAM, Windows XP). The second change is the format of our tests. We now make the distinction between synthetic tests and tests that we actually play and record data from. Results from the Unreal Tournament 2003 benchmark is now classified as “synthetic” since it is not based 100% on a user’s experience. The final change is the quantity of tests we run. You thought we did a lot of testing before, just wait until you see what we have now! 🙂

As an aside, we hope these changes are positive ones and we would like to hear from you if you have particular questions or comments about them.

Still no updated ATI…

Unfortunately, we still do not have an updated ATI card (i.e. something produced in the last 6 months). We’ve been listening to all your emails and forum comments and we are trying our best to secure a relationship with ATI. We know you want a comprehensive review that reflects the current market, but the best we can do at the moment is my personal Radeon 9500 that is soft-moddable. I sincerely hope that we have some updated ATI cards to use in reviews soon!

So about this softmod Radeon 9500

For those who don’t know, I’ll give a quick history lesson on the “Softmod Radeon 9500”. When ATI released their Radeon 9500 cores to its partners over a year ago, enthusiasts quickly found that certain Radeon 9500s were just Radeon 9700 cards with parts of it disabled. Using some modified drivers, some lucky Radeon 9500 owners were able to remove this restriction and turn their Radeon 9500 into a Radeon 9700 effectively doubling the performance at no cost.

The Radeon 9500 I have here is one of those special cards. Using the modified driver, I can reproduce scores you would see on a Radeon 9700. This is why I’ve used it in place of a real Radeon 9700 in my reviews. Without a working relationship with ATI, what I own personally is all I can manage.

I know this isn’t the ideal way to do benchmarking, but it’s the best we can offer until we can get some ATI cards from the company itself or one of their partners.

Editor’s Note: The 9700 (faux) here is meant for adding an additional data point only, as the card itself is both more expensive than the 5700U and hard to get a hold off — thus not truly in the same classification as the 5700U and 9600XT (that we will review later).

Benchmark System

Motherboard ABIT NF7-S rev 2.0
Processor Athlon XP 3200+
RAM 2×256 Corsair Platinum DDR400 (2-2-2-6)
Hard drive Western Digital 120GB WD1200BB
Operating System Windows XP + SP1
Video Cards

NVIDIA GeForce FX5600 Ultra
NVIDIA GeForce FX5700 Ultra
ATI Radeon 9500
ATI Radeon 9500 Soft-mod

NVIDIA Driver ForceWare 52.16
ATI Driver Catalyst 3.8

 

Synthetic Tests (“Benchmarks”)

Synthetic Tests is what we’ve all come to know as a “benchmark”. They are fabricated graphical events that are used to simulate a consumer’s experience with graphical hardware. However, synthetic benchmarks are a poor representation of what is being experienced in reality. However, synthetic benchmarks are useful for making good concrete comparisons of cards on similarly configured systems.

Tests like Aquamark 3, Unreal Tournament 2003, and X2: The Threat demo, though based on real games and real game engines, are synthetic since the event are fabricated and never controlled by the user.

NVIDIA GeForceFX 5700 Ultra Review - Graphics Cards  71

Aquamark 3
(Massive Development)

NVIDIA GeForceFX 5700 Ultra Review - Graphics Cards  72 3DMark 03 v330
(Futuremark)
NVIDIA GeForceFX 5700 Ultra Review - Graphics Cards  73 ViewPerf 7.1
(Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation)
   
NVIDIA GeForceFX 5700 Ultra Review - Graphics Cards  74

Unreal Tournament 2003
(Digital Extremes, Atari)

NVIDIA GeForceFX 5700 Ultra Review - Graphics Cards  75 X2: The Threat
(Enlight Software, Egosoft) 

 

Game Performance Tests

The results in this section of the review are taken from actual game play. FRAPS was used to measure the frame rate as I took each card for a spin in each game. We’ve been doing this for a long time here and I’m happy to see more hardware sites spending the time to do the same.

However, because the numbers are recorded in actual in-game sessions, the numbers recorded may not be what you’ve come to expect from a standard benchmark (i.e. synthetic test). There will be instances where a more demanding visual setting will actually perform a bit better than a lower setting.

So what is important are the overall scores compared to other cards – it’s not significant that Card X beats Card Y for only 1 experiment out of 8.

NVIDIA GeForceFX 5700 Ultra Review - Graphics Cards  76 Age of Mythology: The Titans
(Ensemble Studios, Microsoft)
NVIDIA GeForceFX 5700 Ultra Review - Graphics Cards  77 Freelancer
(Digital Anvil, Microsoft)
NVIDIA GeForceFX 5700 Ultra Review - Graphics Cards  78 Halo: Combat Evolved
(Bungie/GearBox, Microsoft)
NVIDIA GeForceFX 5700 Ultra Review - Graphics Cards  79 Homeworld 2
(Relic Entertainment, Vivendi Universal)
NVIDIA GeForceFX 5700 Ultra Review - Graphics Cards  80

Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
(Raven, LucasArts)

NVIDIA GeForceFX 5700 Ultra Review - Graphics Cards  81 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
(Bethesda Softworks, Ubi Soft)

 

Subjective Tests

Subjective tests is where I use my own eyes to compare image quality for different settings on a given piece of hardware. They are subjective because the comments and conclusions I make are based on my own personal experience and may not reflect what you perceive. This is why we provide links to the images used so you can judge for yourself.

NVIDIA GeForceFX 5700 Ultra Review - Graphics Cards  82

Anti-aliasing quality:
Morrowind

NVIDIA GeForceFX 5700 Ultra Review - Graphics Cards  83 Texturing quality:
Morrowind (again 🙂
NVIDIA GeForceFX 5700 Ultra Review - Graphics Cards  84 2D image quality    
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