Barrier Eliminators: X1900GT and X1950XTX from Sapphire

Test Setup

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System Hardware
ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo E6700, 2.66 GHz, 1066 FSB, 4 MB Cache
MotherboardAbit AB9-Pro V1.00, BIOS 1.4
RAMCorsair CMX512-8000UL2x 512 MB, CAS 4-4-4-8
Hard DriveWestern Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD150 GB, 10,000 RPM, 16 MB Cache, SATA 150
NetworkingMarvell Yukon Gigabit PHY, enabled, offline
Graphics Card 1Sapphire X1950XTX 512M PCI-E D-DVI/VIVOGPU : ATI Radeon X1950XTX (650 MHz)RAM : 256 MB GDDR3 (1550 MHz)
Graphics Card 2Sapphire X1900GT 256M PCI-E D-DVI/VIVOGPU : ATI Radeon X1900GT (575 MHz)RAM : 256 MB GDDR3 (1200 MHz)
Graphics Card 3EVGA 7600GT CO SuperclockedGPU : Nvidia GeForce 7600GT (600 MHz)RAM : 256 MB GDDR3 (1560 MHz)
Power SupplyOCZ GameXStream OCZ700GXSSLI - 700W
System Software & Drivers
OSWindows XP Professional 5.1.2600, Service Pack 2
DirectX Version9.0c (4.09.0000.0904)
Platform DriverIntel INF
Graphics DriversATI Catalyst 6.9Nvidia Forceware 91.47
Benchmarks and Settings
Black & White 2Version : Patch 1.1Video Modes : 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1600x1200Video Quality : Medium, High with 4xAATest : FRAPS 60-second - Intro Island Flyby
FEARVersion : 1.0 RetailVideo Modes : 1024x768, 1280x960, 1600x1200Computer : MaximumGraphics Card : Medium, Maximum (Softshadows, 4xAA, 16xAF)Test Path : Options/Performance/Test settings
OblivionVersion : 1.0.228 RetailVideo Modes : 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1600x1200Visual Settings : Bloom, HDR, 4x AATest : THG custom Indoor/Outdoor game saves
Quake 4Version : 1.2 (Dual-Core Patch)Video Modes : 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1600x1200Video Quality : Medium, Ultra with 4xAACommand Line : timedemo demo8.demo 1 (1 = load textures)
Video Quality
HQV DVDCatalyst : 3:2 Pulldown Detection + Auto QualityForceware 1 : Standard SettingsForceware 2 : Edge Enhance. + Noise Red. + Inverse telecine

Note that both high quality and standard quality game settings are listed in the chart above, with Oblivion tested at three quality settings.

Video Quality : Movies

Enabling high-quality DVD viewing under ATI Catalyst Control Center is as easy as turning on automatic 3:2 pull-down detection, which makes us wonder why this option isn’t enabled by default. Nvidia Forceware requires manual selection to best suit the card’s purpose. Analog sliders allow settings between maximum and minimum enhancement, where the driver defaulted to the lowest setting.

Designed for testing high-end home theater displays, the HQV DVD from Silicon Optix assigns numeric values to qualitative observations. Because manual mode selection is required for Forceware drivers, the 7600GT was tested at both its base setting and with full enhancements/inverse telecine enabled.

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Silicon Optix HQV DVD Performance Results
TestX1950XTX (Auto)X1900GT (Auto)7600GT (Base)7600GT (Optimized)
Color Bar (10)10101010
Jaggies 1 (5)5533
Jaggies 2 (5)3333
Flag (10)5555
Picture Detail (10)00010
Noise Reduction (10)101055
Motion Adaptive NR (10)5555
3:2 Detection (10)50010
Film Cadence (8 tests x5)4040040
H. Text Crawl (10)1010100
V. Text Crawl (10)1010100
Totals (130 max)103985191

A simple explanation of scoring differences is more practical than 100 medium resolution screen shots :

Color Bar Test : All three cards showed the smallest bars well, without flickering.

Jaggies Pattern 1 : Scan lines first appears on the X1900GT and X1950XTX after the bar reached 10 degrees to horizontal, while the 7600GT exhibited scan lines as the bar first approached 10 degrees to horizontal. The actual difference is approximately two degrees, but this is the barrier at which the test defines three or five points.

Flag Test : The X1900GT and X1950XTX showed a softened background without noticeable interlacing. The 7600GT also exhibited the same behavior using base settings, while its optimized settings sharpened the background and introduced very slight scan lines.

Picture Detail Test : All three cards initially exhibited a softened background, but selecting optimum settings allowed the 7600GT to pass.

Noise Reduction Test : The X1900GT and X1950XTX eliminated analog noise from the analog-to-digital converted video segments. The 7600GT left some noise in background colors (sky) using both driver settings.

Motion Adaptive Noise Reduction Test : The X1900GT and X1950XTX showed minor blur around the moving object (a roller coaster). The 7600GT exhibited background noise (both settings).

3:2 Detection : The X1950XTX eliminated moiré in slightly less than half a second. Though based on the same core technology, the X1900GT failed to perform 3:2 detection promptly. The 7600GT showed constant moiré with inverse telecine disabled (base setting) and no moiré after enabling it.

Film Cadence Tests : The X1900GT and X1950XTX passed all eight tests with no moiré pattern or interlacing problems. The 7600GT exhibited a moiré pattern on the newspaper using base settings, but eliminated it after enabling inverse telecine.

Horizontal Text Crawl : The X1900GT and X1950XTX showed smoothly scrolling text with well defined edges and no interlacing in the background image. The 7600GT showed smoothly scrolling text without background interlacing at its base setting, but added noticeable background interlacing after optimizations were enabled.

Vertical Text Crawl : The X1900GT and X1950XTX displayed smoothly scrolling text on a clear background, as did the 7600GT at its base setting. Enabling advanced 7600GT driver features introduced a significant amount of minor background noise, with a loss in detail.

The 7600GT exhibited well-defined edges surrounding the text (no blurring) in both scrolling text tests, but showed significant noise in the text color. The HQV DVD scorecard does not account for such behavior, so no additional points were forfeited.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.