VGA Charts VIII: PCI Express Winter 2005

PixelShader Version 2 And 3 Compared

Today, simply dividing cards into DirectX 8 and DirectX 9 parts is no longer enough. Instead, the visual features of games are largely contingent on the different versions of PixelShader. Newer PixelShader versions are used to create more realistic waves and water effects in general. For example, Age of Empires III can take advantage of PixelShader 3. If a game detects a GeForce 6 or 7 or an ATI Radeon X1x00 graphics card, the PixelShader option can be set to "Very High". For older cards only supporting version 2 or 2.0b, the best setting is "High". The end result is that the newer cards can display more detailed waves and allow the water surface to be more transparent. In Black & White 2, on the other hand, beautiful surf and ocean spray can be achieved starting with PixelShader 2.0b. With the older GeForce 5 series and corresponding PixelShader 2, the waves are foam-free and the water isn't as transparent.

Setting the PixelShaders to "Low" in Age of Empires III deactivates shadows.

The "Medium" setting allows simple shadows.

On the "High" setting (PixelShader 2 und 2.0b), shadows are reflected in the waves.

"Very-High" (PixelShader 3) shows all details and additionally makes the water transparent.

The water in Black & White 2 displays beautiful reflections and waves even with PixelShader 2.

Moving to PixelShader 2.0b and 3 adds white spray and increases the water's transparency.