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Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro 512Mb AGP:
Review and Testing

Paul V. Bolotoff
 
Release date: 31st of March 2007
Last modify date: 27th of May 2007

Contents:

 
Direct3D Games (Far Cry, Serious Sam 2)

Far Cry and Serious Sam 2 have been chosen for our Direct3D benchmarking because they're popular enough, provide with documented capabilities to capture and play back demo records, and able to display both average and minimal FPS. These titles also support OpenGL rendering, but it's either buggy (Far Cry) or slow (Serious Sam 2). Both games utilise proprietary engines supporting SM3.0 which has been activated for all cards tested except of Sapphire Radeon 9600XT.
 
Far Cry
Far Cry, screen shot N1 Far Cry, screen shot N2
(click to enlarge, 123Kb and 162Kb respectively)

A popular demo record Training by Ubisoft has been chosen. It may be considered as consisting of two parts: inside the cave (short viewing range, low geometry level — 20 to 50 thousand polygons per frame) and outside on a run to the quay (long viewing range, average geometry level — 150 to 200 thousand polygons per frame). Both parts don't involve numerous lighting sources. All game settings have been set to Very High except of Water Quality which has been able to reach Ultra High and Shadow Quality which has got to be High.
 
Far Cry

At 1024x768, both Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro and BFG GeForce 7800GS OC deliver comparable performance to each other, though the first card performs a little better with 16x anisotropic filtering enabled and even more better with 4x multisampled anti-aliasing enabled additionally. In general, the processor is a primary factor limiting actual performance of these cards. As you can see, it doesn't allow minimal FPS to go over 40-42 and average FPS — over 96-99. On the other hand, that's more than enough for comfortable game playing. Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro has been very good with trilinear filtering, though Sapphire Radeon 9600XT hasn't been far behind as well. In fact, Far Cry is quite playable at 1024x768 with 16x anisotropic filtering and no anti-aliasing even on Sapphire Radeon 9600XT.
 
The situation gets somewhat different at 1280x1024. Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro leads, BFG GeForce 7800GS OC moves to the second position, though the other two Radeons by Sapphire have lost even more FPS because of their 128-bit wide data buses to video memory. Nevertheless, Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro has been to deliver acceptable performance with trilinear filtering while Sapphire Radeon 9600XT appears to be close to that boundary where slide-shows begin. In general, Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro and BFG GeForce 7800GS OC only allow to play the game at 1280x1024 with both 16x anisotropic filtering and 4x multisampled anti-aliasing enabled.
 
Serious Sam 2
Serious Sam 2, screen shot N1 Serious Sam 2, screen shot N2
(click to enlarge, 211Kb and 199Kb respectively)

The author has chosen the Branchester demo record by Croteam. This one demonstrates all power of the Serious Sam 2 engine: long wide-angle viewing range, large well-crafted textures, nice special effects. In general, texturing and rasterising play a key role for this demo record, though speed of advanced anisotropic filtering can also be well tested with it. All game options have been set to the highest possible, neither HDR nor Bloom have been enabled.
 
Serious Sam 2

There is an interesting situation at 1024x768. Although BFG GeForce 7800GS OC is the best definitely with trilinear filtering because of lower processor dependence, Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro is far ahead in the other two modes. It's well noticeable that Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro feels not good with 16x anisotropic filtering in this game, and Sapphire Radeon 9600XT allows for some playability with trilinear filtering only.
 
Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro leads at 1280x1024, and even overclocked BFG GeForce 7800GS OC may question this fact when it comes to trilinear filtering only. About the other cards, Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro may offer acceptable performance in this mode solely, and Sapphire Radeon 9600XT is good for nothing even there. Once again, Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro and BFG GeForce 7800GS OC only have been able to handle the job well with both 16x anisotropic filtering and 4x multisampled anti-aliasing enabled.
 
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Copyright (c) Paul V. Bolotoff, 2006-07. All rights reserved.
A full or partial reprint without a permission received from the author is prohibited.
 
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