DX8 Performance - Aquanox
The fact of the matter is that in current games, the GeForce3 just isn't worth the $500 price tag. The technology behind it is wonderful and what will really allow it to shine will be future titles that take advantage of its programmable nature. NVIDIA realizes this and managed to get a benchmark made based on the upcoming DX8 title Aquanox.
As you would guess, the benchmark completely humiliates everything aside from the GeForce3 because it is a game highly optimized for DX8 graphics cards. Let's take a look at the game performance first.
Interestingly enough, the ATI Radeon would not complete any of the Aquanox tests. The card would simply drop back to the desktop before starting the benchmark.
While the GeForce3 is clearly the leader in all of the benchmarks, it is interesting to note that its frame rate never increases above 45 fps, which is obtained at 640 x 480 x 32. It is also interesting to note that the Kyro II does extremely poorly in all of the benchmarks. If this is an indication of how the Kyro II will perform on future DX8 titles it could be a major turnoff for those that were planning on keeping the $149 card for more than 6 - 9 months.
The most interesting part of the Aquanox benchmark is the fact that it outputs information on the number of polygons displayed as well as the amount of time it took to display them, essentially giving us a method of measuring the T&L power of the GeForce3's programmable T&L. You'll find the results below:
It isn't a surprise that the GeForce3 comes out on top again, what is interesting is that the three GeForce2 cards and the Kyro II are all capable of the same real world T&L power. Keep in mind that the Kyro II has no hardware T&L, meaning that all four of the cards are relying on the host CPU for the T&L processing.
If this is an indication of what can be expected from future titles, are GeForce2 owners left in the lurch with a hard-wired T&L unit that will yield no tangible performance improvements in future games? If developers all move to support programmable T&L like that on the GeForce3, which they most likely will, will the T&L units on the GeForce2 series of cards be rendered completely useless?
There is the possibility that future games will be able to take advantage of both by providing support for the GeForce2's hard-wired T&L but also offering the option of taking advantage of a programmable T&L unit. It's too early to say for sure, but it's something definitely worth thinking about.