As outlined by the introduction to this article, TweakTown's Canadian Labs is focusing on evaluating the Radeon 9800 XT's visual performance, within the latest GPU-intensive PC games compared to a much older graphics card, an nVidia GeForce 3 Ti500. Using an appropriately-chosen suite of visually-burdened DirectX 8 & 9 games, we plan to put this card through piercing torture for the next forty-eight hours.
On the DirectX 9 side, we are dealing with Rockstar Game's Midnight Club II and Max Payne 2, as well as Bungie's Halo PC. On the DirectX 8 side, we have EA's NHL 2004 and Valve's Counter-Strike.
In each one of these games, quality of video and game-play settings were set to their absolute maximum. Whilst looking at the following in-game screenshots, keep in mind that these shots are taken on the fly - they are images being coherently produced by the video card. No stills.
Editor Note - We'll work on a follow up with visual performance from nVidia's latest GPU, the GeForce FX 5950 when we have more time to spend with a card based on this GPU.
Counter-Strike: Unquestionably the most popular online multiplayer game, ever. While it is not exactly a stunning (even pretty for that matter) or visually heavy game, we figured that one-hundred-thousand people might just be interested in seeing just how much a top-of-the-line video card, such as the Radeon 9800 XT, can performance-wise and visually improve their game.
Almost none. The ambient shadows, smoke puffs, redundant textures and world lighting all appear slightly improved - nothing worth upgrading for. One of the weak aspects of Counter-Strike's visual performance is its poor anisotropic filtering support. In other words, when textures are drawn onto an object that stretches deep into a scene, those objects appear considerably blurry and 'unpolished'. On the other hand, the skyboxes (the level's sky map) are beautiful, and for the most part, appear very realistic.
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