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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
CPUIntel 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
MotherboardASRock X79 Extreme9 (LGA 2011) Chipset: Intel X79 Express
NetworkingOn-Board Gigabit LAN controller
MemoryCorsair Vengeance LP PC3-16000, 4 x 4 GB, 1600 MT/s, CL 8-8-8-24-2T
GraphicsAMD Radeon HD 6970880 MHz GPU, 2 GB GDDR5 at 1375 MHzAMD Radeon HD 78701000 MHz GPU, 2 GB GDDR5 at 1200 MHzAMD Radeon HD 7970925 MHz GPU, 3 GB GDDR5 at 1375 MHzNvidia GeForce GTX 580772 MHz GPU, 1.5 GB GDDR5 at 1002 MHz
Hard DriveSamsung 256 GB (SSD)
PowerePower EP-1200E10-T2 1200 W ATX12V, EPS12V
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows 7 x6, Service Pack 1
DirectXDirectX 11
Graphics DriversRadeon: 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
  • lahawzel
    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.
    Reply
  • nebun
    got to love nvidia....why is it that most of AMD's graphics are blurry?
    Reply
  • nebun
    Almost forgot...AMD was caught lying again :)...what a shame
    Reply
  • buzznut
    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!
    Reply
  • therabiddeer
    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.
    Reply
  • the associate
    "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...

    Reply
  • SteelCity1981
    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.
    Reply
  • the associate
    6870's**
    Reply
  • neon neophyte
    Do AMD's Radeon HD 7000s Trade Image Quality For Performance?

    No, no they do not
    Reply
  • airborne11b
    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.
    Reply