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S3 Diamond Viper II Review

3D Mark 2000 High Polygon Count

The results in this test are showing me something that I hoped wouldn't happen. The video cards without T&L must rely on the speed of the CPU (which uses KNI in DirectX 7) to calculate all the T&L information. The CPU should do well but match the performance of the GeForce GPU that has built in T&L. As you can see from the results, the boards without T&L come very close to the GeForce cards. I will be investigating this further but from what I've found out so far, the 3DMark benchmark doesn't use DirectX 7 only but has a mix of custom code involved. This also makes us realize that it's very possible that game developers may do something similar to support a wide array of cards which would hurt the performance of the GeForce cards.

Here we have more data to support what I mentioned above. Notice that only the GeForce cards took a penalty when switching to 32 bit color mode. The video cards relying on the CPU for T&L can split the workload between the graphics card and CPU (so you'll see little to no performance drop) while the GeForce cards take a slight hit in performance because they're having to deal with the 32 bit color stealing a heavy amount of bandwidth.

Overall my feelings about the actual Viper II performance are mixed. I think the Viper has showed us great performance potential in multi-texturing situations. The drivers are going to play a huge part in this as well. We can see that the drivers were tuned very well for Quake 3 but the poor performance in OpenGL Descent 3 has proven to us that this OpenGL ICD driver still needs some tuning. You can also see that without the comfort of multi-texturing being used, the Viper II has a difficult time keeping up with the more flexible GeForce cards.