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ATi Radeon 9700 Pro Review - The Visual Aspect

We've been hearing all kinds of good things so far concerning the new ATi Radeon 9700 series graphics cards, but can it possibly live up to all the hype? Come join Tio Chaharbaghi as he takes a look at this beast and tells us once and for all if it has what it takes to become the next champ, or the next chump!

| AMD Radeon GPU in Video Cards | Posted: Sep 14, 2002 4:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 9.5%      Manufacturer: ATi

Smartshader 2.0

 

Smartshader 2.0 is the second generation of ATi's programmable vertex and pixel shader technology. This new revision is designed to be much more powerful and flexible than the first generation of shader technology (found on the 8500 series). With Smartshader 2.0, it is possible for developers to take real time movie effects and incorporate them in games for a great looking 3D environment. Smartshader 2.0 also adds the ability to accelerate the very latest 2.0 vertex and 2.0 pixel shaders that are incorporated into a growing list of 3D game titles.

 

 

Above, you can see the Radeon 9700 Pro rendering an image using Smartshader 2.0. On the left is just the normal image and on the right you can notice it is using floating point calculations to implement much more realistic lighting effects.

 

Smoothvision 2.0

 

Smoothvision 2.0 is the second revision to ATi's exclusive Smoothvision technology. According to ATi, the new version, introduced in the Radeon 9700 Pro VPU, provides massive improvements in anti-aliasing performance while simultaneously producing superior image quality. As the original version of Smoothvision did, version 2.0 works with any 3D application (Direct 3D and OpenGL). You can control these options through your windows display panel or through your individual application settings.

 

Full scene AA (FSAA) - Smoothvision 2.0

 

FSAA is a sampling technology that basically makes your games look better and more realistic. According to ATi, high quality anti-aliased graphics are achieved with sub-pixel edge detection and color compression for greatly improved performance. There are three modes for FSAA on the 9700, 2x/4x/6x.

 

 

Above, you can see FSAA on the 9700 Pro in action using Quake III arena. As you can notice, the difference between No AA and 6x AA is huge. The lines and curves are all smoothed out. Does it affect performance greatly? Read on to find out!

 

Anisotropic Filtering

 

AF enhances the overall 3D quality of the picture by rendering sharp, detailed textures. Thus the more textures filtered, the better the image quality gets. Basically, without using AF, the 3D world you see will appear blurry and fuzzy, effectively degrading the level of realism.

 

According to ATi, Anisotropic filtering improves image quality by sampling textures more frequently. This is particularly important for objects rotated at sharp angles relative to the viewpoint. For example, texture flat ground in the distance and scenes with rotating 3D objects in the foreground will both benefit from AF and are usually found in today's games. It seems that ATi's 9700 Pro filters more samples than any of the competition out there, with very low performance degradation. The AF modes are 2x/4x/8x/16x.

 

 

Above is an image created by ATi showing Smoothvision 2.0 - Anisotropic filtering in action. You can see how it is easier to make out the lines as the AF level increases.

 

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