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

Tom2D: Our Simple 2D GDI Benchmark

At this point we like to present our simple 2D benchmark program to our readers. It creates GDI commands as output, enabling the measurements discussed in the following pages.

Important note: the results we are about to present do not correspond to the results from Part 1. This is especially true for drawing lines, because we’ve made various changes to the benchmark since we first wrote about it.

User interface for our small test program (devoid of results)

System requirements:

  • Windows 2000 or better
  • 2MB disk space available
  • Screen resolution of 1024 x 768 or higher

This program doesn't need to be installed and is highly portable from system to system.All measurements are extremely CPU-dependent! Also, running other programs and services can alter these results. Measurements will also fluctuate slightly from run to run.

Test Setup

For this round of testing, we completely cleaned up a desktop machine, then created a new user account. We installed no gadgets, and we avoided opening any additional graphics windows on the test desktop. Once started, we associated the Tom2D.exe program with a single CPU core. We also disabled or deactivated all unnecessary background programs and services as well.

Testing Modes

We selected either direct drawing to the display device or DIB buffering  as shown in the next screenshot (for more information on these topics, consult the two preceding sections in this story).

Changing program modes for Tom2D.exe

Test Coverage

The Tom2D.exe program tests various GDI drawing commands one at a time, so it can accumulate data acros all tests. By inspecting the results and comparing them to others, you can readily see where bottlenecks may exist.

Running individual tests

How-to: Complete Test Run

Click the “Run complete benchmark” button to run all tests automatically and calculate a cumulative result. You can also use the “Copy to clipboard” button to grab and save test results in text form, if you're looking to import them into your favorite number-crunching tool.

In the pages that follow, we’ll present each of the tests individually and explain how they work. We’ll also share our own test results for each item along the way as well.

Our Test Systems
ProcessorIntel Core 2 Quad Q6600, 2.4 GHz @ 3.2 GHz, G0 Stepping, 8MB L2 Cache, LGA 775
RAM8GB DDR2-1066 CL5
MotherboardDFI LANParty DK X48 T2RS
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate x64
Graphics CardsRadeon HD 5870, GeForce GTX 285
Graphics DriversCatalyst 9.12, ForceWare 195.62
Other Graphics CardsRadeon HD 5750, Radeon HD 4870, Radeon HD 3650GeForce GTX 285, GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB, GeForce 8400 GS, GeForce 6800 GT 256MB
Onboard GraphicsGeForce 7050 (nForce 610i), GeForce 8100 (nForce 730i) Intel G45 (+Intel Pentium E5200, 4GB), Intel GMA X4500HD (+Core 2 Duo P8700 (2.53 GHz), 4GB), Intel GMA 950 (+Intel Atom, Windows XP Professional)
Retro PCsPentium MMX (P55C) 233 MHzTyan Tomcat IVD S1564D(Intel 430HX)  224MB EDO DRAM3dfx Voodoo4 4500, 166MHz GPU (VSA100) 32MB PCI (Windows 98SE)

In addition to the platforms listed in the preceding table, our readers tested lots of other combinations with Windows 98, Vista, and XP. All values collected will be presented in a comprehensive summary results table later in this story. To those who note that results for the 780G/785G on-board graphics chipsets are missing, we’re still waiting for new drivers for those items to appear, and will be sure to add those results once they become available. We don’t want to combine our results with those from other sources to help us maintain our objectivity.

Many Thanks to One and All!

At this point, it's also appropriate to thank the many readers who ran our benchmark on their systems and shared those results with us. In the meantime, all of these values (we got over 800 sets of individual results in all) have been ranked, accumulated, and compared to our own results to create the best possible ranking scheme we could devise. Most of these reports match our own observations fairly closely, with only a few exceptions here and there. This helps improve our confidence level when is comes to judging the fairness of our test regime.

  • 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