Strike Force: The new ATI Radeon 9800, 9600 and 9200 Series

Test Setup

Due to ATi's slightly hectic product launch of the Radeon 9800, we have to limit our benchmarking to the bare essentials because of time constraints. To truly test these cards capabilities, we selected games that employ pixel and vertex shaders.

Game Tests:

  • Unreal Tournament 2003 - DirectX 8.1 (PS 1.1/1.3/1.4)
  • Aquanox : Revelation - DirectX 8 (PS 1.1)
  • Splinter Cell (Beta) - DirectX 8 (PS 1.1)
  • Serious Sam : Second Encounter (OpenGL)

Instead of using Aquanox, we planned on benching with the sequel (Aquanox 2: Revelation), as the newest beta version already uses DX 9 shader code. Unfortunately, the game would consistently crash on ATi cards due to a sound error if there was no sound card installed.

Each test was first run without FSAA or anistropic filtering enabled. If you think that would be a cakewalk for these flagship cards, think again. Take Splinter Cell, for example, which uses extravagant effects like realtime shadow calculations to bring even these cards to their knees - at least with the detail slider set to MAX.

All of our testing candidates were benched in Unreal Tournament 2003 with 4x FSAA, 8x anisotropic filtering and a combination of the two. Additionally, the procedure was repeated in Splinter Cell with the top models. All tests were run at the highest possible detail level.

Synthetic Benchmarks:

  • 3D Mark 2001 SE (b330) - DirectX 8.1 (PS 1.1/1.3/1.4)
  • 3D Mark 2003 - DirectX 9 (PS 1.1/1.4/2.0)
  • Codecreatures Benchmark - DirectX 8.1 (PS 1.1/1.3/1.4)

The synthetic benchmarks give a good overall impression of a card's theoretical capabilities. Although it is heavily disputed as a test (more on that in the benchmark section), we also used 3DMark2003 as a DirectX 9 test. Our main focus during testing was the comparison between the Radeon 9800 and the GeForceFX 5800/ 5800 Ultra.

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Test SystemAMD Athlon XP 2700+ASUS A7N8X Deluxe (nForce 2)
Memory2 x 256 MB, PC 333 (2/2/2/5)
Drivers & Software
Graphics DriverNVIDIA - v. 42.72 / 43.00ATI - v. 03b (
DirectX Version on System9
OSWindows XP Professional SP1
Benchmarks & Settings
AquanoxRetail Version v1.17
UT 2003 FullRetail Version v2166
Splinter CellUS Demo 2 - Beta Bench
Serious Sam 2Retail Version v1.07(Demo: Valley of the Jaguar)
3D Mark 2001 SEPro Version, Build 330
3D Mark 2003Row 12 - Cell 1
CodecreaturesPRO Benchmark v1.0.0