3dMark 2005

As we noted in our previous article, 3dMark isn't something that we normally use in an article due to its nature as a synthetic benchmark instead of being a real game. That being said, it's an excellent diagnostic tool both for its wide customizability and the ability to render specific frames. It's also highly prone to being manipulated (both fairly and unfairly) due to the value that some groups attach to it, so while it has little worth as a good way to compare products, it's a great indicator of just what kind of performance improvements a company can wring out of a video card when given the proper motivation.

3dMark 2005

3dMark 2005 HQ

With 3dMark, we're not entirely sure what the reason is for everything that we are seeing - in particular, the large jump between the 4.09 and 4.11 drivers. The 4.9's were the first set of drivers available when 3dMark 2005 was released, so our best guess is that ATI found a way to implement some major 3dMark-specific optimizations between then and 4.11, but there is no mention of this in any release notes.

Otherwise, there is a very interesting progressive increase in 3dMark performance throughout the entire series of Catalyst drivers, which sits in stark contrast to our game tests.

Catalyst 4.05 versus 6.01 (mouse over to see 4.05)

As for image quality, there's no difference to be seen, even when you factor in that the 4.05 and 4.07 drivers have not been approved by FutureMark, since they pre-date 3dMark 2005. As always, it's good to see consistent screenshots when it comes to these matters, as there's nothing here to indicate any foul play on the part of ATI.

Battlefield 2 9700 Pro vs. X800 Pro


View All Comments

  • lombric - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    It may be interesting to see the evolution in cpu discharge under various video format and in image quality.

    I know that the introduction of AVIVO in recents drivers was very efficient for the X1xx serie but what about the R420? No chance to have similar results?
  • Egglick - Friday, February 24, 2006 - link

    As far as I know, the X1x00 cards are the only ones with AVIVO, or at least the entire feature set.

    So does that mean that a $80 X1300 has better video playback than a X850XT PE?? Yep.
  • pkw111 - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    ... but their conclusion is rather boring. True it may be good solid research, but how about some studies that give colorful results, liek comparing the non-offical ATI drivers, such as WarCat, Omega, ngo, etc. Reply
  • Egglick - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    I think it's a little too early to make guesses about the R5xx series right now. Don't forget that both the X800Pro and the 9700Pro are R300 based, and what we're looking at is a cumulation of 3+ years of tweaking and optimizing. The R580 has been out for what, a month?

    We could still see very radical performance boosts for R5xx based cards, particularly the R580 with it's unique shader architecture. It's also possible that performance boosts in new games will be even larger once the successive driver has been optimized for it. Basically, it's a whole new architecture, and what may have been true for both of these R300 based cards may not be true at all for R5xx.

    Also, the CCC is garbage. Boo to ATI for forcing us to use it.
  • DieBoer - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    I just wish ati would stop wasting time on optimising 3dmark and start with games. No serious gamer would take notice at all at 3dm scores only the average joe. Reply
  • Spoelie - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    The most horrifying thing about CCC is the horrendous memory usage. I had been using the normal control panel all this time but recently formatted and downloaded the latest drivers. WindowsXP's memory usage after bootup went from ~70 something (not much had been installed yet) to a full fledged 200mb!! Only from installing the f*cked up driver.

    After some tweaking (disabling all ATi's added services and the CCC entry in the registry's startup) I'm back at around ~95mb after startup, which I was at before the format.

    Still find it incredible in what kind of default configuration the CCC 'ships'.
  • Questar - Thursday, February 23, 2006 - link

    Your saw rhings that weren't there - XP's footprint is much larger than 70MB. Reply
  • Spoelie - Friday, February 24, 2006 - link

    Not really, once you start tweaking and don't have all programs installed, around 70 is really not that much of a stretch without programs open. Even so, even if the task manager for some reason is lying about the absolute numbers, there was a difference of 130mb just by installing a driver. Reply
  • abhaxus - Wednesday, February 22, 2006 - link

    i find it surprising that you did not run the test with a dual core CPU to see if the dual core optimizations actually did anything in the new drivers. i know there was a writeup on them awhile back with the 5.12s i believe but i'd like to see if newer versions got any further improvement. Reply
  • SonicIce - Wednesday, February 22, 2006 - link

    You can create a short 300 frame timedemo for Farcry and play it back with the http://www.hardwareoc.hu/index.php/p/download/st/....">Farcry bench tool in screenshot mode. This will give you perfectly consistant results. I did it once to compare the shadows on the weapon. Reply

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