Do AMD's Radeon HD 7000s Trade Image Quality For Performance?

Test System And Benchmarks

While the primary test system we used is specified below, we also recreated our results on a number of systems in order to verify the image quality issues we encountered. 

When viewing the screenshots, keep in mind that all of the games from which we captured screenshots have some inevitable variation that don't impact texture quality. For instance, Crysis 2 and Battlefield 3 employ dust and fog effects that can't be timed exactly. Skyrim features a lot of moving grass and foliage. Metro 2033 has flickering lights. As a result, we can't XOR an image to come up with a definitive word on driver influence. Fortunately, we're not looking for general differences, but rather the appearance of texture quality specifically.

Also note that screenshots are blown up to 200% to make the differences easier to spot.

Now, let’s get the specifications and particulars out of the way so we can move on to the actual analysis:

Test System
CPU
Intel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E), 3.3 GHz, Six Cores, LGA 2011, 15 MB Shared L3 Cache, Hyper-Threading enabled. Overclocked to 3.6 GHz
Motherboard
ASRock X79 Extreme9 (LGA 2011) Chipset: Intel X79 Express
Networking
On-Board Gigabit LAN controller
Memory
Corsair Vengeance LP PC3-16000, 4 x 4 GB, 1600 MT/s, CL 8-8-8-24-2T
Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 6970
880 MHz GPU, 2 GB GDDR5 at 1375 MHz

AMD Radeon HD 7870
1000 MHz GPU, 2 GB GDDR5 at 1200 MHz

AMD Radeon HD 7970
925 MHz GPU, 3 GB GDDR5 at 1375 MHz

Nvidia GeForce GTX 580
772 MHz GPU, 1.5 GB GDDR5 at 1002 MHz
Hard Drive
Samsung 256 GB (SSD)
Power
ePower EP-1200E10-T2 1200 W
ATX12V, EPS12V
Software and Drivers
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 x6, Service Pack 1
DirectX
DirectX 11
Graphics Drivers
Radeon: Catalyst 12.3 WHQL,
Radeon 7800 Launch Beta Driver (8.95.5-120224a-134185E-ATI),
Fixed Beta Driver 12.4 RC 4 (8.95.5-120327a-136160E-ATI)

GeForce: 295.73 WHQL
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    Top Comments
  • Huh, don't know about all of that but thx for the article. I do think its important to bring such things to the vendor's attention and follow up to see if they respond appropriately. Good job!
    32
  • Nice work Tom's, but I can't help question the wisdom in putting this article on the front page for weeks to come when it should have been a blurb in the news section.

    As nebun so artfully pointed out, there a many readers that will see a headline and jump to conclusions. In this regard would it not have been better to say make your headline, "AMD's Radeon HD 7000s Trade Image Quality For Performance? Short answer NO."

    As "investigative journalists" your opinions should be omitted. Complaining of AMDs delay in response, or misleading your readers by eluding to the fact that their avoiding you is entirely opinionated, and the fact that they not only worked with you, gave you a complete answer, and a solution should have necessitated a rewrite of your article.

    I don't think you're biased, but this article does lend credence to those claims.


    I think you're doing what all journalists do, making a story out of nothing, hurting any individuals involved, and then moving on without a backward glance at the consequences.

    I may be being dramatic, but AMD deserves better than this on one of the top PC hardware sites in the world.
    31
  • These differences are things that no one would ever notice if tech review sites didn't point them out.

    Well, not that I mind knowing that it can be fixed with a driver update, but I find it unnecessary for the average gamer to worry about these minor differences with image quality (knowing it's "fixed" is more of a placebo than an actual improvement of gaming experience). Not to mention that the typical gamer plays on 6-bit TN-panel monitors because "HURR 1ms RESPONSE TIME HOLY SHIT BEST SCREEN EVER" and they in turn elect to give up the superior color gamut and viewing angles conferred by IPS panels. They ought to the last ones who deserve to complain about image quality, at any rate.
    24
  • Other Comments
  • These differences are things that no one would ever notice if tech review sites didn't point them out.

    Well, not that I mind knowing that it can be fixed with a driver update, but I find it unnecessary for the average gamer to worry about these minor differences with image quality (knowing it's "fixed" is more of a placebo than an actual improvement of gaming experience). Not to mention that the typical gamer plays on 6-bit TN-panel monitors because "HURR 1ms RESPONSE TIME HOLY SHIT BEST SCREEN EVER" and they in turn elect to give up the superior color gamut and viewing angles conferred by IPS panels. They ought to the last ones who deserve to complain about image quality, at any rate.
    24
  • got to love nvidia....why is it that most of AMD's graphics are blurry?
    -43
  • Almost forgot...AMD was caught lying again :)...what a shame
    -41
  • Huh, don't know about all of that but thx for the article. I do think its important to bring such things to the vendor's attention and follow up to see if they respond appropriately. Good job!
    32
  • Is it just me or is toms heavily biased towards nvidia? We see tons of articles for the Nvidia 6xx but very few for the 7xxx. Nothing negative for nvidia, but an article like this for AMD's, which is already being fixed even though it is undetectable... and the fix doesnt even yield a real change in framerates.
    0
  • "HURR 1ms RESPONSE TIME HOLY SHIT BEST SCREEN EVER"

    HAHAHAHAHA
    Oh man that made my night. But yea, that's exactly why I just got a panny st30 screen, tn's are just garbage, and lcd just can't do black. As for framerate lag? Doesn't affect my average scoreboard k/d ratios, or lap times, or whatever other "precision" timing actions both online and offline.
    Least I got a screen that can do my cards justice, this also makes me glad I got my crossfire setup with the 6780's instead of waiting for the 7000 series...
    -17
  • Nothing new really early driver support for new graphics cards always have their bugs, but normally by the 3rd supported driver version a lot of the generel bugs are normally fixed, because by then a lot more people own that card series thus giving a lot more feedback to the gpu company about the drivers suppported for that card.
    16
  • 6870's**
    -16
  • Do AMD's Radeon HD 7000s Trade Image Quality For Performance?

    No, no they do not
    22
  • the associate"HURR 1ms RESPONSE TIME HOLY SHIT BEST SCREEN EVER"HAHAHAHAHAOh man that made my night. But yea, that's exactly why I just got a panny st30 screen, tn's are just garbage, and lcd just can't do black. As for framerate lag? Doesn't affect my average scoreboard k/d ratios, or lap times, or whatever other "precision" timing actions both online and offline.Least I got a screen that can do my cards justice, this also makes me glad I got my crossfire setup with the 6780's instead of waiting for the 7000 series...


    Going from a dell u2711 2560 x 1600 to a asus vg278h 120hz 2ms tn panel, there is a clear difference in gaming. The u2711 compared to vg278h feels sluggish. The image quality, sharpness and color is clearly better in u2711, but the lag is terribly noticable.

    Once you get a real gaming monitor, you will see the difference for yourself. TN 120hz monitors are the only true choice for pro gaming, imo.
    -6
  • Glad its fixed, I want the best possible IQ so it was important this defect in the drivers was identified, escalated and driven to resolution. Let's hope 12.4 absolutely nails it for the 7000 series (I had to roll back to 12.2 on my CrossFire 7970s but won't go into why here). Cheers
    12
  • Thanks Tom for doing this sort of investigation with image quality. I don't have the tools or knowledge to actual notice this, but i do want the crispiest image possible with no turning back.
    18
  • therabiddeerIs it just me or is toms heavily biased towards nvidia?

    ...it's just you.
    24
  • I knew writer of this was "Don" immediately after I saw the title. Always talking trash about AMD/ATi.
    -17
  • Nice work Tom's, but I can't help question the wisdom in putting this article on the front page for weeks to come when it should have been a blurb in the news section.

    As nebun so artfully pointed out, there a many readers that will see a headline and jump to conclusions. In this regard would it not have been better to say make your headline, "AMD's Radeon HD 7000s Trade Image Quality For Performance? Short answer NO."

    As "investigative journalists" your opinions should be omitted. Complaining of AMDs delay in response, or misleading your readers by eluding to the fact that their avoiding you is entirely opinionated, and the fact that they not only worked with you, gave you a complete answer, and a solution should have necessitated a rewrite of your article.

    I don't think you're biased, but this article does lend credence to those claims.


    I think you're doing what all journalists do, making a story out of nothing, hurting any individuals involved, and then moving on without a backward glance at the consequences.

    I may be being dramatic, but AMD deserves better than this on one of the top PC hardware sites in the world.
    31
  • "we went back and found one specific setting that was causing the described texture blurriness. This has now been removed and the quality of textures should be as intended, with performance unchanged."

    So "Don" spend his whole week writing this Radeon bashing article (hoping it would be a hardware issue of course) about something nobody noticed just to find out there was a simple driver fix for it. Ain't that great?
    20
  • Thanks Toms for keeping these guys honest.
    4
  • everything looks the same to me
    -1
  • So is this part of dons or toms testing methods not to check the settings before just jumping right into benchmarking? Now you write an entire review to complain that you didn't check the settings that can only be seen while face planting a wall to see the textures as close as possible?

    Conclusion: its amd's fault that we didn't check any settings ... I think you should try an electron microscope next to see what else you can complain about.

    This should have been a 1 or 2 page blog, not a 6 page review discussing how one setting wasn't the same. Next article by don should be titled " why I think AMD sucks."
    -20
  • I'm looking forward to an investigation into something nVidia related? I'm sure you can find something odd about the 3DMark scores or something? Did nVidia game 3DMark11 when games 7000 series performance is much closer? I am sure you can find something Tom's ;)
    -1