Windows Vista Performance and Comments (Beta)
As many of you already know, by the end of the year most of us will start to run a new Windows operating system under the name of Windows Vista, this is Microsoft's first proper update for nearly 5 years. Well the UI is going to be 3D based, which means for once Windows will make use of your fancy 3D card to display windows and such like. Right now Windows Vista is in beta, but ATI have provided us with some drivers to test out on the new operating system so we can just basic desktop performance right now. We're not going to run full game benchmarks on it as the OS isn't anywhere near ready for a final release.
General usage on Windows Vista is excellent, I had multiple windows open and was dragging them all over the place with no slow down and considering this wasn't really a real life test or anything any sane user will be doing during their spare time, its a good indication for the rest of the OS. Colours were clear and with a clarity you expect from ATI. Video playback was also excellent, although a number of crashes on the OS side prevented us delving further into what was on offer there. There is no doubt that ATI are doing a great service to testers right now in releasing beta drivers, this helps the company fix many problems and also means the users can still get some good use out of the operating system they are testing. A full review of the final version of Windows Vista along with an in-depth article about what graphics cards perform best in it will be released a few weeks before Vista launches.
F.E.A.R 1680x1050 High Detail
F.E.A.R is one of the best First Person Shooter titles released in the past few months, the only problem was that many gamers couldn't play it as well as they hoped as the frame rate was dire due to some of the fantastic graphics that were on show. With the release of the new cards from ATI, you can finally play the game as it was meant to be played, in high detail!
Farcry 1600x1200 Ultra Detail and HDR - Athlon 64 4000+ X1900 XTX
Farcry 1600x1200 Ultra Detail and HDR - Athlon 64 4000+ X1900 XT
Farcry 1600x1200 Ultra Detail and HDR - Athlon 64 4000+ GeForce 7800 GTX 512MB
Farcry was and I guess still is, one of the best looking games released in the past two years and that is saying something when you consider it has been up against the likes of Doom 3 and Half Life 2 in the past. Graphically in my personal view this is the 2nd best looking game out right now, just one behind Half Life 2, not only that but Farcry is so good looking on an ATI card you'll be well happy with the results. In these tests we ran the game with HDR lighting included, as you can see from the benchmarks, once again ATI has come out on top with a great performance from the X1900 XTX. On the benchmark above, we ran the same test twice due to some slight slow down we noticed when textures were loading on the GeForce card, so to make it fair we ran the tests twice straight after each other to make sure the textures had loaded into memory.
Once more we must point out that if you want to run FarCry with HDR and Anti-Aliasing, you can only do so on the ATI cards as NVidia's GeForce range can't do both together.
Half Life 2 1600x1200 16x Anisotropic 4xAA - X1900 XTX
Half Life 2 1600x1200 16x Anisotropic 4xAA - X1900 XT
Half Life 2 1600x1200 16x Anisotropic 4xAA - GeForce 7800 GTX 512mb
Half Life 2 was one of the most sought after titles ever released when it came out last month and I am glad to say I don't think anyone was disappointed with the game. The graphical performance is as good as I hoped it would be, there are some areas in the game where it does slow down, but not enough to distract from the excellent gameplay on show here. Half Life 2 is probably still one of the best looking titles out right now, and with the excellent graphic effects and some great physics on show, it has to be the title you buy to show off a spanking new PC. ATI has always had a strong lead on NVidia when it comes to Half Life 2, but although the ATI cards come top once more, the lead is being cut down thanks to some of the strides NVidia came on with the GeForce 7800 range.
3D Mark 2006 at 1280x1024x32 - 3D Mark Overall Score
While I don't think much of 3D Mark as a benchmarking tool, nearly every site that reviews graphics cards seems to included it. As you can see the ATI cards both do extremely well in the tests with the ATI X1900 XTX at the top of the tree with a mark over 400 more than Nvidia's top GPU.
Serious Sam 2 at 1600x1200x32 and 16x Anisotropic with HDR
Serious Sam 2 at 1600x1200x32, 4x AA and 16x Anisotropic with HDR
Serious Sam 2 is a great looking game, the gameplay might not be the best, but for showing off your fancy new graphics card along with some great effects like HDR, Serious Sam 2 is perfect. Here you can see that the performance of the ATI cards is quite a few frames per second ahead of the latest Nvidia GPU, even the plain X1900 XT gets a higher ranking. One major difference here is that if you want to run HDR with anti-aliasing on the 3 cards, you can only do so with the ATI ones, ATI support HDR with Anti-aliasing on their range of cards while NVidia do not. So if we had ran the test with Anti-Aliasing enabled, NVidia wouldn't even be allowed to enter the benchmarking!
High End - High Resolution Benchmarks: 2048x1536
Call of Duty 2: Smoke
Age of Empires 3
Our final tests came in the form of a couple of recent titles - Call of Duty 2 and Age of Empires 3, both making lots of use from the additional pipelines on the X1900 XTX. As you can see, once the ATI card reaches high resolutions, this is where it can really move away from the NVidia card, though its unlikely many of us are even going to be running monitors like this right now, its good to know that in the future, our games will run at higher resolutions with good frame rates.
On another note I just wanted to add that as a gamer who prefers to play games on a Widescreen monitor or TV the ATI X1900 XTX works fantastically well at 1680x1050 in nearly every game I have played during the tests. Although I haven't benchmarked my favorite game - Everquest 2, I wanted to point out that the game is a wonder to behold when playing it in widescreen at very high settings as is F.E.A.R. So those of you who prefer to play in widescreen, the ATI X1900 is a great card to go for.