During Comdex week we brought you an article entitled: ATI's Radeon 8500 - New drivers expose potential. It was indeed those drivers (v6.13.10.3286 for Windows XP) that exposed some of the potential of ATI's Radeon 8500 core. The chip was finally performing close to and in some cases faster than NVIDIA's GeForce3 Ti 500.

Although some bugs still remained in the drivers, they were overall met with very positive response from end users and reviewers alike - us included. One of the most important features that were enabled with these latest Radeon 8500 drivers was ATI's anti-aliasing algorithm, which they call SMOOTHVISION.

When we originally brought you our preview of the Radeon 8500 we were thoroughly impressed by the potential that SMOOTHVISION offered being a programmable pseudo-random multisampling AA algorithm. The theory behind SMOOTHVISION was that its sampling pattern would produce higher quality anti-aliasing with a lesser performance hit than NVIDIA's offering because of its superior design. With this feature now fully supported under the latest drivers we were finally able to test ATI's claims and walked away thoroughly impressed with the solution.

To recap, here's a shot of the Radeon 8500 with its 2X AA enabled compared to NVIDIA's Quincunx:

ATI Radeon 8500
AA Off
ATI Radeon 8500
2X Performance AA
NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 500
Quincunx AA

As you can clearly see, the textures on the Radeon 8500 image are much clearer than the GeForce3 Ti 500 image which was attributed to ATI's superior AA algorithm. But before we go on, let's compare the Radeon 8500 to another video card we happened to have laying around the lab:

ATI Radeon 8500
2X Performance AA
Mystery Card

Here, the blurred textures of the GeForce3 are no where to be found and it's very difficult to tell the two solutions apart. Could it be that we have found a video card with AA capabilities that rival SMOOTHVISION?

Indeed we have, and that card is none other than the year-old NVIDIA GeForce2 GTS. Confused? Read on to find out exactly what's behind the crisp textures of SMOOTHVISION.

Supersampling rises from the dead

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