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  • gizzard - Saturday, January 08, 2005 - link

    Hey, that's me! =)

    Quite simply, the reason the ATI card is faster is because it has better drivers, (The higher core clock speed helps also.) You can really see it in the lower resolution Quake3 scores when even the 9600 XT and 9800 Pro beat out the 6800. Driver inefficiencies can sometimes be exposed by looking at low resolution performance, which is why I always publish them.

    It is difficult to see the large performance deltas in Anand's review because he didn't perform many tests with FSAA and AF enabled — that is where the X800 XT shines. Also, his conclusion of the RtCW scores was not entirely accurate: "The story is pretty simple here, on older games, the 9800 is already CPU bound thus making the 6800 Ultra and X800 XT not too interesting to look at." RtCW is a heavily CPU bound game. Given the same CPU, you won't see a large delta unless you compare a Rage 128 to an X800 XT — and his results show that. I'm just not sure how he arrived at that conclusion . =)

    I'm hoping that Anand will speak up in the comments section to clear things up. I'd be very interested in what he has to say. And as everyone said, what Anand is doing is A Good Thing.™
    Reply
  • gankaku - Saturday, January 08, 2005 - link

    I was interested to read Anand's take on the new ATi X800 XT for several reasons, including:

    1) his earlier fair, well-written article on a month with a Mac
    2) his status in the PC World as an honest broker, and his rigorous testing procedures
    3) the fact that his opinion does carry some weight, and may help improve hardware offerings in the Mac world. We've got it pretty good right now, but articles that spread light (and not just heat) are always appreciated.

    But, after all that, his results surprised me. That's because I read an earlier review of the new ATi card at Inside Mac Games, with the results indicating that the ATi card is a much better buy.

    I'm not enough of a geek to understand why ATi scored better at IMG, but I'm sure that some lively debate on this list will release both heat and light in the subsequent discussions here.

    http://www.insidemacgames.com/reviews/view.php?ID=...
    Reply
  • karlreading - Friday, January 07, 2005 - link

    personally, i like macs about as much as i like bineg shot in my stomache and left to bleed to death. that said, all these people dissing anad for relesing a mac article are very silly. Its very refreshing to see a pc orientated site like anadtech give readers exposer to other computer circles, and whilst it exposes pc users to the mac side of things, it also may help bring some mac users to anandtech, and anything that brings more COMPUTER users together is welecomed IMHO.
    keep up the good work anand!!
    Reply
  • a2daj - Friday, January 07, 2005 - link

    Forgot to add that 10.3.7 added some major shader performance improvements for Radeon 9600s and up, which in turn helped Halo performance. Reply
  • a2daj - Friday, January 07, 2005 - link

    As for Halo and FSAA:
    Mac Halo has always been able to do FSAA, but various driver bugs would effect different cards, essentially breaking the feature for some users. And yes, it looks great with FSAA ;) But most of those bugs have been worked out in various OS and Halo patches. Mac Halo 1.5 introduced hardware accelerated Lens Flares for users with OS 10.3.5 (presumably through the use of ARB Occlusion Query, which was finally implemented in Apple's OpenGL implementation with the release of 10.3.5). The previous combination of Halo Lens Flares (1.02-1.05.3) and FSAA could cause major performance hits, particularly in the last level during the escape. The older versions of Halo had to rely on glReadPixel to handle Lens Flares, which resulted in noticeable performance hits with Lens Flares set to High and Extreme. The Performance hit was made even worse when FSAA was enabled. Halo 1.5 fixed that.
    Reply
  • a2daj - Friday, January 07, 2005 - link

    For the G5 cards which need more power, the PRO in AGP Pro is supplying the extra power for the cards. That's the whole point of the PRO in AGP Pro slots. The ADC Power Nubin is just for ADC. Reply
  • aliasfox - Thursday, January 06, 2005 - link

    Frame rates are lower than the PC scores for two reasons:
    - Most games outside of games based off of the Doom 3 and Quake III engines are DirectX, something that is nowhere on the Mac. So not only are all of these games ported over to a different processor architecture, but also over to OpenGL.

    - The graphics cards were also tested on a 2.0 GHz G5- while still fast, is slower than a more modern 2.5 GHz machine. The 2.0 GHz was originally released in May 2003- roughly the same time as the FX-51 and 3.0 GHz P4. So yes, these scores are lower than those produced by top end PCs because it's older (though still not necessarily cheaper).
    Reply
  • Chuckles - Thursday, January 06, 2005 - link

    #23:

    A big chunk of the additional power for graphics cards comes from the 25-28V rail in G4's and G5's. This additional power is normally run though additional molexes in PC's, but in a Mac, the power goes through a seperate set of pins on the external end of the AGP (PRO) slot (the two-pin tab between the end of the DVI and AGP PRO connector).
    Incidentally, on older Apple displays, the display itself was powered through the computer's 25V rail. This is no longer the case partially due to the 30" display's 150 W draw (6A @ 25V).

    On another note. It's kind of annoying to see things CPU bound at high resolution.
    Reply
  • mbhame - Thursday, January 06, 2005 - link

    OriginalReaper - is that YOU??? Reply
  • CindyRodriguez - Thursday, January 06, 2005 - link

    Just finished...
    In my humble opinion, a much improved article to add to your Mac section.
    Again, thanks for the Mac article done in a fair way. It's understandable difficult to bench video well on a Mac.

    I'd be interesting to have seen a comparison of stock mac configs, like an apple branded 9600xt or the stock 5200 Ultra.
    I'd also be interesting to see a comparison of a similar PC running an x800 with the same benchmarks... that is interesting from the perspective of how a competative market affects driver optimization efforts.

    cheers,
    cindy
    Reply
  • Eric5h5 - Thursday, January 06, 2005 - link

    Yes, Halo does have FSAA, enabled either as an option at startup, or--more importantly--by using the ATI Override control panel. This is a big advantage over nVidia, at least on the Mac, since you can use various types and amounts of FSAA (and some other options like vsync and 16x AF) with any game, regardless of whether that option was originally programmed in or not. Very useful for older games, still often good for newer ones (especially since you can fiddle with options on the fly, while the game's running, as long as the game allows switching to the OS). All options don't necessarily work with all games, but usually they do.

    (The FSAA in Halo occasionally resulted in large slow-downs, but either the OS X 10.3.7 or the Halo 1.5 updates fixed that, at least on my 9600XT.)

    Oh, and the human eye can see rather a lot more than 30 fps; let's not get into that again....
    Reply
  • mlittl3 - Thursday, January 06, 2005 - link

    #22, Lol!

    Cindy, you are such a love/hate sort of person. Just when I think you are a diehard Mac fan, you knock them down a little. I loved your comments on the last Mac article.

    Anyway, I just wanted to ask one question. Are you reviewing graphics cards that are only available for purchase separately? Apple has been bundling the G5's with 9600xt's and 9800xt's for awhile now and I was wondering why they weren't included.

    Also, the frame rates look a little low for these games compared to PCs. I'm sure this is because these games are heavily optimized for PC architecture instead of other's so any port to the Mac is not as heavily optimized.

    Since this is the case, how about a more subjective review of Mac graphic cards and games. Instead of graphs with fps, why don't you just get a bunch of current games (and yes there are a bunch of games for the Mac) and look at image quality, playability and maybe even the ease (or difficulty) of playing multiplayer games in a PC/Mac mix of computers. Do they both connect using TCP/IP (I'm sure they do)? Do the Macs causing any lag while playing others on PCs, etc. etc.

    There are more sides to a review on games with a certain computer hardware than graphs showing fps. The human eye can only see up to 30fps anyway, so let's look a little more a different titles and their playability while keeping an eye on which card "feels" better than the other.

    With only a few cards available for the Mac, a comparison of which is faster is rather pointless anyway since each card has its own purpose outside of which is better for game frame rates. I.e., the 6800 DDL is for driving two 30" displays, the X800XT is good just for playing games with modern architecture (so you get a price break for not being able to drive two displays) and the 9800 pro (9600xt, 9800xt) is for the average power user who just wants the power of the G5 processors, Mac OS X and an upgradable tower (don't have this with the eMac, IMac, etc.).

    Just my .02.
    Reply
  • ViRGE - Thursday, January 06, 2005 - link

    Good article Anand, especially where you talk about DDL and what makes these cards a bit different from their PC counterparts. I'm a bit flabbergasted that ATI did not make it 2xDDL though, since the Mac market does a lot more business with the kind of professionals that would need such a setup, than the PC market comparatively. I also second a2daj's comments about the benchmarks, they were more lacking than they needed to be. And what's up with a lack of FSAA testing? ATI's control panel lets you enable it wherever you want(unlike Nvidia, damn them), so it's not like it's too hard.

    PS What's up with ATI releasing this card now, instead of waiting a couple of weeks for MacWorld SF2K5? I would think his Steveness would want more new stuff to show off.

    #22: The slot is an AGP 8x PRO slot; let me say this again, PRO slot. The slot has everything to do with it, as the Pro specification was designed so that cards could have extra power if they needed it. You're not entirely off base with your point about stubs(you do need another stub to hit the extra power pins of the Pro slot), but Apple isn't doing any strange Voodoo here, this is all part of a current AGP spec.

    #18: With Halo and FSAA, my guess is that it has something to do with OpenGL. Whether the FSAA+Shader problem is only a Direct3D thing, or if it was a Halo problem fixed in the PC->Mac port I'm not sure, but by the sounds of it, FSAA can be done on the Mac.
    Reply
  • CindyRodriguez - Thursday, January 06, 2005 - link

    Anand says: "he X800 XT Mac Edition is an AGP Pro 8X card (thus requires no external power)"

    Nope. Not even close to correct. The fact that it's in an 8x slot has zero to do with why you don't need external power. The card, very visibly, has an additional power stub that corresponds with the extra power stub on the G5 motherboard. It's 28 V. I believe but I'd have to confirm that.

    As for plugging it into a PC (which many people have asked about..) it will never run in a PC. As mentioned above, it uses a proprietary power stub not found on any PC motherboard. The stub is actually there to drive a monitor that may be on the ADC port but it also provides the extra power to that big, hungry GPU. It's not a bios issue.. It simply won't fit into a PC.

    One last bit on this.. in typical Apple bone-headed fashion, (yes, I like Apple but they do stupid stuff occasionally).. Apple moved the power stub between the G4 and the G5. This card will ONLY run in a PowerMac G5.. not any other Macintosh.

    cindy.

    P.S. Thanks for perservering with the Mac reviews.. even if you aren't getting everything correct yet.
    Reply
  • motoxpress - Thursday, January 06, 2005 - link

    Another vote of appreciation for having this article. I also recommend you contact apple and get a copy of Motion for testing. It is a VERY good OpenGL killer ;)

    mx
    Reply
  • MAValpha - Thursday, January 06, 2005 - link

    Even if you reflashed the cards with their PC counterparts' BIOSes, I doubt they would work. As aliasfox already pointed out, the hardware is different. The TMDS transmitters are different, though I am still unclear as to whether or not there are twice as many, or whether each one simply has two signals running side-by-side. Either way, the graphics processor has to be able to communicate with its signal generators. Reply
  • eetnoyer - Thursday, January 06, 2005 - link

    Perhaps you should start up an Irish version of your website for this sort of article: MacAnandtech.com

    Of course you probably wouldn't get many hits for it.
    Reply
  • Sc4freak - Thursday, January 06, 2005 - link

    Why was Halo tested with Anti-Aliasing? Halo doesn't support anti-aliasing as far as I know. Reply
  • MadAd - Thursday, January 06, 2005 - link

    Man the size of that card is ridiculous - Nvidia remind me more and more of 3dfx these days. Reply
  • ksherman - Thursday, January 06, 2005 - link

    "running two 30” Cinema Displays"

    **wonders in amazement**


    Oh wait, I cant even imagine that! I can hardly fathom a single 30" display, let alone TWO!!!
    Reply
  • Dennis Travis - Thursday, January 06, 2005 - link

    Very well done Anand. Thanks so much.

    I am told Doom III should be out sometime late January or early Feburary. Battlefield and Call of Duty have been out for a long time as well as The Sims and other games.
    Reply
  • aliasfox - Thursday, January 06, 2005 - link

    #12
    You may be able to flash the X800XT's firmware with PC firmware to get it to work, though as the cards are slightly different, I wouldn't guarantee it working. $500 is a lot to just try this out (and find out it doesn't work).
    Reply
  • KirinRiotCrash - Thursday, January 06, 2005 - link

    ProviaFan is right. The Mac versions of the ATI cards use a different BIOS so that they work with Macs. I would guess if you were to hook this up on a PC, you'd need to reflash it with your trusty set of BIOS hacking tools in order to make it work on the PC. I do know that in the Mac side, in order for a PC ATI card (and some nVidias, too)to work properly, it needs to be re-flashed first. Reply
  • ProviaFan - Thursday, January 06, 2005 - link

    Aside from the ADC connector, I would suppose that these cards use different BIOSes from their PC counterparts - something that would make them incompatible even if everything else were identical. Reply
  • Poser - Thursday, January 06, 2005 - link

    I'd also like to know what #9 asked - what would happen if you plugged one of these in a PC? What're the hardware diffences that make graphics cards incompatible? Reply
  • Poser - Thursday, January 06, 2005 - link

    Speaking as someone who dislikes Apple, I still find these articles interesting. It's peering into niches which I'd otherwise never bother to look at, much like the reviews of high end workstations. In both cases, I can't see myself ever buying the products discussed, but there's always little tidbits that flesh out my understanding of computing in general - stuff like the paragraph on the TMDS links.

    Thanks for yet another well written article, Anand.
    Reply
  • jeremyk44 - Thursday, January 06, 2005 - link

    What about a consumer PC card that can run the 30 inch display? What would happen if you plugged the ATI card into a PC Reply
  • Googer - Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - link

    #2 It's standard size for some Workstation Cards, and is within PCI Spec. You are just used to seeing 1/4 sized PCI cards Reply
  • KirinRiotCrash - Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - link

    As both a PC and a Mac user, I really do appreciate this kind of article posted on a PC-centric site. It doesn't look biased and it's rather professional. (Whether hardcore PC users appreciate these kind of Mac-based articles is another story).

    Although, I would agree that you should also include Motion benches there, too. Motion, I heard, is rather hard on the graphics card. Last I checked, a minimum of a Radeon 9500 is required.
    Reply
  • OriginalReaper - Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - link

    .01% of your readers thank you for this article Reply
  • a2daj - Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - link

    I forgot to add that I enjoyed the depth of the article, particularly the information about dual-link DVI. Hopefully, that will clear up some common misconceptions regarding DL DVI. Reply
  • aliasfox - Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - link

    I applaud the Mac benchmarking- handled in a fair and objective manner, with the professionalism I've come to expect from AnandTech. If you can get your hands on Motion, that is apparently a non-game graphics card intensive program.

    As I read through the article, I missed one important fact: what setting is the processor set on the G5? All G5 desktops offer the option of running the processor always at highest (in this case, 2.0 GHz), or at a lower speed, the "Reduced" setting. Reduced cranks up processor performance on demand, but the performance difference between that and Highest is still noticeable under the type of scrutiny that AnandTech does.

    Now, before any PC user wonders why there are power settings on a desktop machine, let me offer an answer: when you don't need the processor (when you're typing in Word, for example), it throttles down, allowing the entire computer to run cooler, and therefore quieter, as the fans can then run at lower speeds.
    Reply
  • a2daj - Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - link

    Battlefield 1942 and Jedi Outcast as well as Jedi Academy are both available for Mac OS. Same with Call of Duty. I'm surprised he ended up resorting to RtCW. Call of Duty would have been a more interesting test. Splinter Cell is also available. Anand, if you'd like any info on what to test for Mac gaming I'd be happy to provide some suggestions, particularly when it comes to some of the Mac specific settings in various games.

    Xbench... ugh. The OpenGL test in Xbench is useless. It's shown scores which allude to a Rage 128 being faster than a Radeon 9800 Pro.
    Reply
  • skunkbuster - Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - link

    that 6800 Ultra DDL is freakin HUGE! Reply
  • shabby - Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - link

    How aboot some doom3/farcry/hl2/sw:bf/sims2/battlefield/jedi/ benchmarks? Oh wait... n/m ;) Reply

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