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BFG GeForce 7800GS OC 256Mb AGP:
Review and Testing

Paul V. Bolotoff
 
Release date: 1st of December 2006
Last modify date: 1st of September 2007

Contents:

 
Synthetical Tests (3DMark 2001SE and 2005)

There are 3DMark 2001SE and 3DMark 2005 by MadOnion / Futuremark to serve the purpose of synthetical benchmarking. 3DMark 2001SE build 330 is almost 5 years old but still has some interesting tests to offer, first of all, those synthetical completely Fill Rate and High Polygon Count, though Nature is a good one as well. 3DMark 2005 is able to use pixel and vertex shaders v3.0, and they happen to be a must have for modern 3D gaming titles. One must note that shaders of 3DMark 2005 are written in HLSL and compiled at run-time rather than written in assembly language and pre-compiled, so they may lack optimisation. Unfortunately, many 3D software developers follow this popular trend. Both 3DMark 2001SE and 3DMark 2005 operate through Direct3D.
 
3DMark 2001SE (Fill Rate)

This test illustrates how fast a scene can be filled, i. e. texturing and rasterising speed. It constains almost no geometry data, so there is a very little to zero dependence on processor speed or video memory size.
 
As it has been expected, BFG GeForce 7800GS OC is far ahead with its 256-bit memory data bus. After the overclocking it has advanced even more: +19% in single-texturing and +25% in multitexturing. Compared to the non-overclocked leader, ASUS GeForce 6600GT Top is about 2 times slower in single-texturing though not that much in multitexturing. Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro has performed poorly, it's exactly 3 times slower than BFG GeForce 7800GS OC and about 2 times slower than ASUS GeForce 6600GT Top. What to say, a slow video memory and 4 texture pipelines have made it a reality.
 
3DMark 2001SE (High Polygon Count)

This test renders a scene with several objects moving dynamically and either 1 or 8 active lights. There is almost no texturing (background only), so it doesn't depend much on video memory bandwidth. It's a matter of vertex pipelines mostly to deliver high results in this test.
 
BFG GeForce 7800GS OC with its 6 vertex pipelines is still a leader, but the others get closer. Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro has managed to prevail over ASUS GeForce 6600GT Top this time (5 vs. 3 vertex pipelines) and to camp not so far away from BFG GeForce 7800GS OC in 8 lights mode.
 
3DMark 2001SE (Nature)

Well, Nature is considered fairly as the most beautiful game test of the 3DMark 2001SE suite. It employs vertex shaders v1.0 to produce a wind effect on grass and trees' leaves, also to calculate movements of the fisherman and butterflies. Pixel shaders v1.0 together with multitexturing are involved in generation of the water surface.
 
BFG GeForce 7800GS OC has left both competitors far behind even without overclocking. In fact, after the overclocking it appeared over than 2 times faster than ASUS GeForce 6600GT Top no matter what mode to look at, and that's an impressive result. At the same time, Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro has lost all bets to ASUS GeForce 6600GT Top once again. It seems that low texturing speed and moderate 1-light vertex performance have played a bad joke with Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro, especially if to take into account that Nature isn't abundant in pixel shaders unlike many modern tests, so texture pipelines of RV530 appear overloaded while pixel pipelines feel underloaded.
 
The other game tests of the 3DMark 2001SE suite (Car Chase, Dragothic and Lobby) don't use pixel shaders at all, so they're of a little value nowadays from the point of game design. However, they depend well on texturing and rasterising speed. Yes, somewhere back in the past it has been of key importance for 3D graphics hardware. Anyway, refer to the following tables.
 
3DMark 2001SE (1280x1024x32bpp), Low detail, average FPS
  Car Chase Dragothic Lobby
BF
NoAA
16xAF
NoAA
16xAF
4xMSAA
BF
NoAA
16xAF
NoAA
16xAF
4xMSAA
BF
NoAA
16xAF
NoAA
16xAF
4xMSAA
BFG 7800GS OC o/c 334 325 277 482 437 292 311 308 268
BFG 7800GS OC 325 307 246 425 380 256 309 303 246
ASUS 6600GT Top 261 229 146 308 283 159 280 234 141
Sapphire X1600 Pro 245 149 106 216 176 123 210 128 94

 
3DMark 2001SE (1280x1024x32bpp), High detail, average FPS
  Car Chase Dragothic Lobby
BF
NoAA
16xAF
NoAA
16xAF
4xMSAA
BF
NoAA
16xAF
NoAA
16xAF
4xMSAA
BF
NoAA
16xAF
NoAA
16xAF
4xMSAA
BFG 7800GS OC o/c 109 109 109 244 230 190 145 145 140
BFG 7800GS OC 108 108 107 221 203 166 145 144 135
ASUS 6600GT Top 106 104 85 180 165 115 139 129 91
Sapphire X1600 Pro 106 82 62 146 120 91 118 80 64

There are two modes of detalisation, High and Low. While High detail mode helps 3DMark 2001SE to prove its processor-dependent reputation, Low detail one delivers interesting results. When it comes to anisotropic filtering, BFG GeForce 7800GS OC and ASUS GeForce 6600GT Top have lost 11% and 12% on maximum respectively while Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro — 39%. Remember, 16x anisotropic filtering (AF) requires 128 samples per texel to be processed while bilinear (BF) and trilinear (TF) take only 4 and 8 respectively. Of course, it makes 16xAF dependent very much on video memory bandwidth. Finally, RV530 features only 4 texture pipelines, so there is absolutely no reason why Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro having not so fast memory should deliver much performance with 16xAF enabled. The situation gets different with 4x multisampled anti-aliasing (MSAA) activated in addition to 16xAF: BFG GeForce 7800GS OC and ASUS GeForce 6600GT Top have dropped their performance by 33% and 44% on maximum respectively while Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro — only by 24%. Anti-aliasing is handled by raster operators, so there is no wonder: BFG GeForce 7800GS OC and ASUS GeForce 6600GT Top accommodate half as many operators as texture pipelines while Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro sticks to 1:1 ratio.
 
Having first conclusions made, let's continue with 3DMark 2005.
 
3DMark 2005 (Return to Proxycon)

Return to Proxycon features advanced geometry (the hangar with many high-detailed objects including those moving dynamically) and advanced lighting (up to 8 sources). Pixel shaders are also used widely. The view is limited by walls of the hangar and corridor which is typical for most 3D action games.
 
BFG GeForce 7800GS OC holds the top while Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro gains the second place. ASUS GeForce 6600GT Top hasn't performed well especially with 4xMSAA enabled.
 
3DMark 2005 (Firefly Forest)

Firefly Forest depends on vertex performance mostly because of trees and grass: branches of the first move with the wind, and the second just needs to be generated dynamically. In a matter of fact, there are only 2 lighting sources: the moon which is a statical one and the flying light which is a dynamical one.
 
The situation remains the same mostly, though Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro has helped ASUS GeForce 6600GT Top to reduce the gap by losing a lot of performance on 16xAF.
 
3DMark 2005 (Canyon Flight)

Canyon Flight employs advanced very much pixel shaders to generate walls of the canyon and the water surface. There are different fog effects to take place as well. Geometry of objects is moderate, the sun serves as the only lighting source.
 
BFG GeForce 7800GS OC is still the leader. ASUS GeForce 6600GT Top and Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro share the second place except of 16xAF + 4xMSAA modes where Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro has prevailed definitely.
 
Overall, BFG GeForce 7800GS OC has won this competition. Considering 1024x768 with trilinear filtering and no anti-aliasing enabled, it has scored about 5800 marks before the overclocking and about 6900 after. Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro has managed to possess the second place with about 4100 marks, and ASUS GeForce 6600GT Top has got about 3700 ones. With bilinear filtering which is set by default ("Optimal") the scores would be approx. 2% higher. BFG GeForce 7800GS OC hasn't shown any weak points, but Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro loses a lot of performance while performing 16x anisotropic filtering, and ASUS GeForce 6600GT Top isn't a horse to bet on when 4x multisampled anti-aliasing is enabled.
 
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Copyright (c) Paul V. Bolotoff, 2006-07. All rights reserved.
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