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Part 2: 2D, Acceleration, And Windows: Aren't All Graphics Cards Equal?

Conclusion

To sum up our analysis, we have to observe that today’s high-end graphics cards make a fairly sad showing all the way around. Some of this is a result of the Radeon HD 5000-series performance in certain Windows XP situations, but also due to weakness performing direct GDI draw operations in Windows 7. 

This latter "gotcha" is made all the more frustrating by a reproducible trick, where by opening and closing a second window improves performance momentarily, as explained in our discussion of the line drawing test. Even Nvidia's GeForce GTX 285 is defeated rather soundly by integrated graphics products. That's a tough pill to swallow for the folks dropping $400 and more for discrete GPUs.

It's interesting that those on-board chipsets demonstrate alacrity in a number of our tests. The aging Nvidia nForce 630i, in particular, scored well consistently. Also, the Intel IGPs appear to be particularly well-suited for 2D applications, despite the company's reputation for delivering lackluster 3D drivers. Its Atom suffers when CPU load increases (not surprisingly), so GDI rendering suffers as well, often winding up at the back of the pack. This is, unfortunately, a profound limitation for a platform that’s used so often with Windows XP, and should influence software choices for that platform accordingly.

Although GDI is no longer at the top of the 2D food chain, the results of these tests remain relevant for many users. We hope they’ll read and ponder them carefully.

Editor's Note: As promised, ATI followed up with us after Part 1 was published, delivering a driver claimed to address the issues we were running into. We're currently running that hotfix through our German lab and will follow up shortly with our findings.

If you'd like to try out our Tom2D benchmark for yourself, it's available right here. The mirror is on our German site, but you'll just need to click Download, and then select the Download-Server Nr.1.

  • mdm08
    I have a 5850 with 10.1 drivers and it seems Photoshop CS4 doesn't recognize it as a graphics card that can improve performance so all those cool new features like animated zoom, kinetic panning, and such seem to be disabled. Also, it when you have a very complex group of objects and you try to nudge it ( move it one pixel with arrow keys) the computer actually shows the spinning wheel and has to process this instead of being instantaneous like it was on my older 7600GT. Is this an issue related with what this article is saying about apps written for GDI or is this a different issue i'm experiencing?
    Reply
  • jrharbort
    Scores on 9600M GT and T9600 Core 2 Duo with Windows XP and latest graphics drivers. Only 11 active background processes no including benchmark, and themes disabled.

    BENCHMARK: DIRECT DRAWING TO VISIBLE DEVICE

    Text: 8556 chars/sec
    Line: 47513 lines/sec
    Polygon: 7757 polygons/sec
    Rectangle: 6564 rects/sec
    Arc/Ellipse: 3874 ellipses/sec
    Blitting: 13974 operations/sec
    Stretching: 266 operations/sec
    Splines/Bézier: 10510 splines/sec
    Score: 984
    Reply
  • It would be great if you can run the test on some "pro" cards (quadroFX, quadroNVS, firePro & fireMV). Just to see if the "pro" drivers change standard UI rendering or the optimizations are only for the professional DCC software.
    Reply
  • liquidsnake718
    mdm08I have a 5850 with 10.1 drivers and it seems Photoshop CS4 doesn't recognize it as a graphics card that can improve performance so all those cool new features like animated zoom, kinetic panning, and such seem to be disabled. Also, it when you have a very complex group of objects and you try to nudge it ( move it one pixel with arrow keys) the computer actually shows the spinning wheel and has to process this instead of being instantaneous like it was on my older 7600GT. Is this an issue related with what this article is saying about apps written for GDI or is this a different issue i'm experiencing?Oh great, more news on a 5xxx series not being able to handle simple apps like CS4.... I have yet to use CS4 on my desktop with my 5850..... I hope Ati comes out with more patches if this is a problem.
    Reply
  • taltamir
    windows XP is dead... get on the windows 7 64bit bandwagon already you Luddites! (not referring to the authors of the article, they raise good points; I am referring to those customers who insist that XP is some sort of holy grail of windows bliss never seen before or after)
    Reply
  • Scores on P4 2.8 HT Northwood W ati 2600 pro drivers 10.1 aero Win 7 :
    BENCHMARK: DIRECT DRAWING TO VISIBLE DEVICE

    Text: 8106 chars/sec
    Line: 6528 lines/sec
    Polygon: 249 polygons/sec
    Rectangle: 1484 rects/sec
    Arc/Ellipse: 6127 ellipses/sec
    Blitting: 379 operations/sec
    Stretching: 80 operations/sec
    Splines/Bézier: 5263 splines/sec
    Score: 362
    Reply
  • Scores on P4 2.8 HT Northwood W ati 2600 pro drivers 10.1 aero Win 7 :

    BENCHMARK: DIB-BUFFER AND BLIT

    Text: 12633 chars/sec
    Line: 21067 lines/sec
    Polygon: 4087 polygons/sec
    Rectangle: 535 rects/sec
    Arc/Ellipse: 5604 ellipses/sec
    Blitting: 1443 operations/sec
    Stretching: 213 operations/sec
    Splines/Bézier: 12213 splines/sec
    Score: 607
    Reply
  • giovanni86
    BENCHMARK: DIRECT DRAWING TO VISIBLE DEVICE

    Text: 54466 chars/sec
    Line: 73135 lines/sec
    Polygon: 23943 polygons/sec
    Rectangle: 3927 rects/sec
    Arc/Ellipse: 26911 ellipses/sec
    Blitting: 9827 operations/sec
    Stretching: 464 operations/sec
    Splines/Bézier: 41911 splines/sec
    Score: 2600
    Reply
  • helle040
    Rdaeon 4670, amd 7750be, winxp, drivers 10.1, resolutie 1280x1024, 32bit
    Text: 45746
    line: 40508
    Splines/beziers: 20466
    Poygon: 322
    Rectangle: 1954
    Arc/E.: 3494
    Biting: 2406
    Stretching: 211
    Score: 1150
    Reply
  • wxj
    I’ve always preferred GDI operations over those of the NOD. GDI have more basic operations set verses NOD’s more complex and sometimes unreliable operations.
    Reply