Observations And Notes
As was to be expected, a test of these proportions is no simple matter, and problems are bound to crop up. One such difficulty is assembling the line-up of cards to be tested. If you thought companies would be ecstatic at the thought of letting us test their cards, you're unfortunately mistaken. Instead, many companies are squeamish about sending us their low-end products, knowing full well that the performance these parts offer is not what one would consider breathtaking. Nonetheless, this is exactly the class of card that makes it into most of the inexpensive preconfigured, off-the shelf computers.
Originally we also wanted to compare the results of the P4 system with those of a very fast Athlon 64 FX system. Unfortunately, we ran into some compatibility problems between the mainboard (MSI K8T Master1) and ATi based cards (mostly R9800, but also some R9600). This resulted in rendering errors that seem to indicate overheating problems, such as flickering triangles and discolored texels. Since we were unable to solve these issues before our deadline, we will bring you those results in Part II of our update.
We were faced with another set of problems concerning the drivers. Whenever possible, we ran our tests using official WHQL drivers. Due to their very recent release date, the newest driver releases from ATi and NVIDIA (v3.10 and v53.03, respectively), these didn't make it into our testing procedure.
However, finding the correct driver for XGI was much more difficult. We finally decided to use the Reactor v1.0 driver, which was released in December 2003. This release still seems to be a work in progress, though, as the driver still has issues concerning bad texture and filtering quality as well as very pronounced incompatibility with some games and applications. It seems that the dual-chip approach does not work correctly in some games, while others even refuse to launch to begin with (such as Call of Duty and Warcraft III). FSAA and anisotropic filtering have also yet to be enabled - which holds true for S3's Deltachrome S8 driver as well.