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2900XT or 8800GTS Superclocked 640MB (same price)

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July 15, 2007 10:25:10 PM

I plan on building a new system around a Q6600 in the next couple weeks when the intel price drops kick in at the retailers. I am trying to decide which video card to buy. I am not a hard core gamer, but I like to play fps with most settings cranked and at least 4X FSAA. I play a lot of CS:S and will be getting Crysis and HL2 Ep2. I have 2 x24" monitors that run at 1920x1200 and I would like to play as many games as i can at native res (i know that crysis will be a prob at this res on these two cards).

Right now I can get a Sapphire 2900XT and an EVGA 8800GTS Superclocked 640MB for the same price on sale at $400 CDN.
Should I jump on this now, or wait a couple of weeks? Which one should I buy? The benchmarks are too confusing since the 2900 shines in some areas and the 8800 GTS shines in others. The price is the same, so that is not a factor.

thanks
July 15, 2007 11:39:46 PM

If you want to see the complete article, Guruof3D.com “2900XT"

The 8800 series doesn't have Tessellation.

Tessellation - adding more detail to 3D objects, realtime.

From: Guru of 3D .com
What I really love in this industry is the development of new technology.
Originally a new feature is hardly supported, think HDR, for example.
Who of you would have thought it would become such a big thing?
With that being said, ATI is introducing a new technology in their R2000 series and it's called tesselation; yes the HD 2900 XT has a programmable tessellation unit.
Now before I explain what it is; please understand that the hardware can do it, yet the games are not yet supporting it (yet).
I think it'll take at least a year before we see some level of support for it.
It's good to see this function moved into the GPU for sure.
Okay, my one-liner to make this technology understandable: turn a low polygon model into a higher polygon model.
Tessellation allows a dynamic variation of an object's level of detail.
Tessellation isn't 100% new, as Matrox's Parhelia already supported adaptive tessellation at a very decent level in it's hardware, but ATI decided to introduce it in hardware at the 2000 Series and gee gosh golly! The XBOX 360 also supports it.
Tessellation simply means increasing your polygon number to get more detail.
Tessellation is the process of subdividing a surface into smaller shapes.
To describe object surface patterns, tessellation breaks down the surface of an object into manageable polygons.
Triangles or quadrilaterals are two usually used polygons in drawing graphical objects because computer hardware can easy manipulate and calculate these two simple polygons.
An object divided into quads and subdivided into triangles for convenient calculation.

This process can now be done 100% at GPU level.
So why does Tessellation matter to you?
Why is this so important?
Well, combine it with a displacement map (displacement mapping will take a 2D, grayscale image and uses each shade of grey to represent a "height" value) the developers don't have to create extra geometry; only pass down a set of 2D maps and you can now add intently nice detail towards an 3D object ... And I do mean really good detail, literally.
This technique is especially useful for creating complex-looking terrain using a combination of very simple base geometry with a height map, and a texture map.
And perhaps more interesting is that this generated terrain can be deformed dynamically by manipulating the height map.
A scene could have much polygonal complexity closer to the viewer or camera, and fewer polygons as distance from the camera increases.
Anyway, really technical but just remember this, Tessellation will allow much higher quality rendering/ animation at less GPU cost.
The generic rule here is the more tessellation, the slower it gets, yet since there's now dedicated core logic for it on the GPU, it's fast and can boost your detail massively thus giving an impression of sharpness and fine quality.
The higher the level of tesselation, the closer to realism the sharpness of the surface approaches.
July 16, 2007 1:24:12 AM

Even new Direct X10 games like Crysis won't take advantage of tessellation. By the time games really start taking advantage of tessellation, the 9800GTX will be nearing the end of it's life.
Related resources
a b U Graphics card
July 16, 2007 1:28:44 AM

Tessellation is a nice function indeed, unfortunately, the devs have been asked to go slow on it, as it must be a demanding feature, to be eased in so to speak. I suggest you read this article, there are others http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/2006/11/30/directx10_f... For the same price, Id go for the 2900
July 16, 2007 3:27:56 AM

To be honest, tesellation is nice, but you won't see any devs take advantage of it for a long time. By the time they truly take advantage of it we will be well into the second generation of DX10 cards. ATI tried to make their card very forward thinking, and they did, but I think they included some features that really won't be too advantageous for a while. Also, you say you really like FSAA? If you look in benchmarks that include performance ratings for the 2900 with and without AA, you will notice how much of a drop the 2900 takes from having AA enabled.

For instance, look at this benchmark from Firingsquad.
http://firingsquad.com/hardware/diamond_radeon_2900_xt_... sp
On Oblivion without AA the 2900 performs as well as an 8800 GTX, impressive. However, go ahead to the same testing but with 4XAA.
http://firingsquad.com/hardware/diamond_radeon_2900_xt_...
An d now you see it is 12 fps less than the GTS. This inconsistency is what made me choose the 8800 GTS in the end, as I really don't think drivers will solve the loss in performance due to AA. Here is another review that talks about the same loss of performance.
http://www.elitebastards.com/cms/index.php?option=com_c... task=view&id=420&Itemid=27&limit=1&limitstart=0
Read on and you will see the same thing. I didn't see the point in buying a high end graphics card that has trouble with AA, that's why I buy a high end card in the first place.

Lastly, I can find you a 8800 GTS superclocked for $370 before rebates, $350 after. Here it is, though currently out of stock it will be back in fairly soon, plus you get Company of Heroes free, if you don't have it.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I hope all that helps. I know it is a lot but give it a look. In all honesty I think either will give you good performance. However, given how close we are to a second generation of DX10 cards you will likely, if you want to stay on the higher end, get a replacement in a year or two. I will probably get a replacement in a year if need be. Anyway, in my opinion, the 2900 is a good card that has a lot of neat ideas about it, but just seems to lack the performance for today's games. Maybe it was a little too forward thinking.
July 16, 2007 3:39:48 AM

I will give you a simple answer get a coin choose a side for each graphics card and throw it, on wich side it lands that graphics card you should choose because they really are equals i must say.
July 16, 2007 3:40:21 AM

thanks for your input Murphy. As far as the price goes, I am in Canada, and $400 after $30 rebate is around lowest I have seen the GTS Superclocked 640mb
a b U Graphics card
July 16, 2007 4:09:54 AM

I would remind you, the 2900 is very young, new drivers, yet to be fully matured. That being said, whats to prevent you from ocing the 2900 and getting closer to the GTX? I know about the AA issues, but they are slowly but surely being improved. I own a 1900xt 512mb and a 8800gts 320. Ive noticed one thing, as I crank up the aa and af the gts starts to lag, its better in most games I have but not all with eye candy cranked. This is my personal observation. The Grape Ape said that ATI's standard is higher than NVidias and from what Ive experienced its true. So, if you look forward, the 2900 looks more and more promising, even without ocing. That being said, either card is a great choice, but with both being equal in price, Id choose the 2900. just my 2 cents
July 16, 2007 4:24:37 AM

I'm leaning towards the 2900. Should i be concerned about the fact that the 2900 only has 512 MB RAM when running at 1900x1200?
July 16, 2007 4:49:42 AM

JAYDEEJOHN said:
I would remind you, the 2900 is very young, new drivers, yet to be fully matured. That being said, whats to prevent you from ocing the 2900 and getting closer to the GTX? I know about the AA issues, but they are slowly but surely being improved. I own a 1900xt 512mb and a 8800gts 320. Ive noticed one thing, as I crank up the aa and af the gts starts to lag, its better in most games I have but not all with eye candy cranked. This is my personal observation. The Grape Ape said that ATI's standard is higher than NVidias and from what Ive experienced its true. So, if you look forward, the 2900 looks more and more promising, even without ocing. That being said, either card is a great choice, but with both being equal in price, Id choose the 2900. just my 2 cents
Higher standard in what way? In the past ATI did have a higher standard for image quality, but the 8800 series provides higher quality anisotropic filtering and antialiasing than the HD 2900 series. You can also overclock the 8800GTS, but neither card will compete with the 8800GTX, even overclocked to it's max. If you're a media enthusiast maybe the HD 2900XT would be better as it has integrated HDMI with audio support, if not the difference in the two cards will be minimal.
a b U Graphics card
July 16, 2007 5:07:54 AM

Im just going on what I own, and what Ive tried. Generally the gts is faster than the 1900, but cranking those higher quality candies comes at a cost. In some games, it works great with a better overall experience, and others, it lags. It may be because its only the 320, dont know for sure. Going by this, the 2900 covers the 1900 quite well. All things being equal, thats why at the same price, Id pick the 2900 . To the OP, yes 512 is fine, itll handle anything you can throw at it, this 320 makes me wonder tho..
July 16, 2007 5:08:42 AM

BTW, what type and what are the specs of your power supply?
July 16, 2007 5:40:00 AM

murphy82nd said:
BTW, what type and what are the specs of your power supply?



I haven't picked one yet. I was going to pick one based on the requirements of the components i end up going with.
July 16, 2007 5:40:55 AM

no 1 uses Tessellation and its just like TruForm...cool idea..if devs use it (which if both Videocard manufacturers support it then by all means.)
July 16, 2007 6:11:08 AM

Why are you throwing a 2 generetion old card into this?
I thought about it and knowing that the 8800gts is allready oc'd then maybe he should go for the 8800gts, and those hd 2900xt are pretty hot so if he doesn't have some good cooling he should go for the 8800gts.
July 16, 2007 6:50:25 AM

murphy82nd said:
To be honest, tesellation is nice, but you won't see any devs take advantage of it for a long time. By the time they truly take advantage of it we will be well into the second generation of DX10 cards. ATI tried to make their card very forward thinking, and they did, but I think they included some features that really won't be too advantageous for a while. Also, you say you really like FSAA? If you look in benchmarks that include performance ratings for the 2900 with and without AA, you will notice how much of a drop the 2900 takes from having AA enabled.

For instance, look at this benchmark from Firingsquad.
http://firingsquad.com/hardware/diamond_radeon_2900_xt_... sp
On Oblivion without AA the 2900 performs as well as an 8800 GTX, impressive. However, go ahead to the same testing but with 4XAA.
http://firingsquad.com/hardware/diamond_radeon_2900_xt_...
An d now you see it is 12 fps less than the GTS. This inconsistency is what made me choose the 8800 GTS in the end, as I really don't think drivers will solve the loss in performance due to AA. Here is another review that talks about the same loss of performance.
http://www.elitebastards.com/cms/index.php?option=com_c... task=view&id=420&Itemid=27&limit=1&limitstart=0
Read on and you will see the same thing. I didn't see the point in buying a high end graphics card that has trouble with AA, that's why I buy a high end card in the first place.

Lastly, I can find you a 8800 GTS superclocked for $370 before rebates, $350 after. Here it is, though currently out of stock it will be back in fairly soon, plus you get Company of Heroes free, if you don't have it.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I hope all that helps. I know it is a lot but give it a look. In all honesty I think either will give you good performance. However, given how close we are to a second generation of DX10 cards you will likely, if you want to stay on the higher end, get a replacement in a year or two. I will probably get a replacement in a year if need be. Anyway, in my opinion, the 2900 is a good card that has a lot of neat ideas about it, but just seems to lack the performance for today's games. Maybe it was a little too forward thinking.

This is exactly why I skipped the whole first-gen DX10 cards. I think the 2nd-gen (g100/r700) will be much more capable of native DX10 games (that will acually use Tessellation and other fetures too good for the PS3). The 2900 is forward thinking, but I don't think it can handle the megatextures needed when games start having 10x the foliage as Oblivion. Enjoy the 8800s before they choak.
July 16, 2007 7:06:18 AM

I'm also deciding atm which card to choose. Based on tech. and improving drivers 2900 seems a better choice. Ofc 8800 drivers are more mature but you can expect less improvement as well, while ATI for some wierd reason already have better Vista crossfire drivers, probably because nVidia is slacking hard ;) 

On the side note, noise is also important to me, and I heard 2900 usualy isnt the most quite card, would check this before buying particular card.
July 16, 2007 7:32:53 AM

2900xt .why? just look at my avatar and signature.lolol jkjk. no really. The 2900XT wins over the GTX in some cases, can the GTS win over the GTX? no. Early driver improvements have increased the performance and it is most likely to increase even more. and like jay said you can oc it and get a performance similar to GTX.
July 16, 2007 9:08:51 AM

enewmen said:
This is exactly why I skipped the whole first-gen DX10 cards. I think the 2nd-gen (g100/r700) will be much more capable of native DX10 games (that will acually use Tessellation and other fetures too good for the PS3). The 2900 is forward thinking, but I don't think it can handle the megatextures needed when games start having 10x the foliage as Oblivion. Enjoy the 8800s before they choak.


it's always the same song, i completely agree
look at the geforce 5*** series :sarcastic: 
July 16, 2007 9:32:15 AM

are you talking about the fx series?
That was a mistake for nvidia the hole series was bad not one good card.
July 16, 2007 12:20:35 PM

Both cards shine in different areas as far as benchmarking goes.

However, the The 2900 does have an issue with AA, plus it is very power hungry and has a louder fan.

Some would argue that the 2900 has more potential longer term, but that remains to be seen - it could also work the other way around.

Crytek have said that Crysis will run on an 8800GTS very well (not max settings though) - I don't know about the 2900XT but you would hope it would be equivalent.

Either way you will get a nice card for now, and either way you are likely to need to upgrade in 12/18 months to the next generation of cards if you wish to run DX10 games at 1900x1200 with 4xAA.

July 16, 2007 12:23:15 PM

do either the current vista drivers from ati or nvidia stand out at all? I will probably be running with vista at least for a little while. i dont know how long i will be able to handle the performance drop off. I may do a dual boot with xp for games.
a b U Graphics card
July 16, 2007 1:18:10 PM

At this point, ATI has better drivers in Vista, and theyre getting even better like I said
July 16, 2007 3:13:46 PM

just like he said ^
July 16, 2007 6:11:37 PM

thanks for all the input guys. I went ahead and ordered the 2900 :) 
a b U Graphics card
July 16, 2007 7:01:47 PM

Be sure to get a good power supply (650W-700W and up, especially if you plan to OC) and good airflow. With all of that, you should be quite happy. I just took the side off my case and pointed an 8 inch fan at it. Runs nice and cool now. :D 
a b U Graphics card
July 16, 2007 11:41:57 PM

1731898,10,57305 said:
Higher standard in what way? In the past ATI did have a higher standard for image quality, but the 8800 series provides higher quality anisotropic filtering and antialiasing than the HD 2900 series.

no question the AF is better on the GF8800 (not that the difference is anywhere near as noticeable as in the past), but when both cards use full MSAA and not their optimized AA they're pretty much even, I haven't seen a quality review that puts either as significantly better than the other, most commenting on them being the same in quality when quality AA is chosen, it's when you compare CSAA and narrow and wide-tent optimizations that you see differences. The question will be what edge detect AA brings to the table, I don't expect much in practice, but in theory it's pretty interesting. The opimized versions do some things well and others terribly.

Quote:
You can also overclock the 8800GTS, but neither card will compete with the 8800GTX, even overclocked to it's max. If you're a media enthusiast maybe the HD 2900XT would be better as it has integrated HDMI with audio support, if not the difference in the two cards will be minimal.


Yeah I don't think even the differences we see between the two is really all that big and even in media, it depends on what you're doing, just like games it's going to be a question of figuring out the app you care about most, and then getting the best fit card for that app/game.
[/quote]
a b U Graphics card
July 17, 2007 12:00:26 AM

enewmen said:
The 2900 is forward thinking, but I don't think it can handle the megatextures needed when games start having 10x the foliage as Oblivion.


Well Megatexturing won't be for foliage (except that which is so far off in the distance it's texture based and not actual objects). For foliage like Oblivion it will be more about vertex and geometry, especially geometry instancing and replication from buffer. Textures will play a role for features, but not be such a burden and not require megatextures.

Megatextures will be more for terrain and features and best used for wider terrain relief an surface features where the additional properties imparted (like reflection, interaction and such benefit most), the increased count benefits the GF8800 and the increased size benefits the HD2900, and the added complexity plays to both differently. It'll be interesting to see how it affects each card since they both have such different choke points be it TU# or memory bandwidth to feed them.

Alot will depend on the compression and the effective use of the buffers, but for Oblivion style foliage in the future, the most important thing is likely to be the vertex/geometry relationship and their ability to render from buffers and improve geometry instancing.
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