Test System Setup and Methodology
When it comes to testing graphics cards, you have to take a look at what the board was designed to do. This usually falls into two categories; gaming or CAD. Since we're talking about a performance gaming card here, we'll be looking primarily at how it performs in both synthetic and real-world gaming tests.
To accommodate these goals, we're going to run a series of tests that consist of the following utilities and programs:
Half Life 2
The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion
All utilities and games have been patched to their most recent versions. Color depth for all tests will be conducted at 32-bit so we can see those true colors in all their glory. The test system will be running Windows XP Professional with DirectX 9.0c and SP2 installed as well as all critical updates in place. I am using the latest motherboard drivers as well as Catalyst 6.4.
Test System Setup
DFI LANParty UT nF4 Ultra-D Motherboard
AMD Athlon 64 FX-53 Processor (Supplied by Newegg.com)
2x 512MB Mushkin PC3500 "Redline" Memory (Supplied by Mushkin)
Thermaltake PurePower 600-watt PSU (Supplied by Thermaltake)
Hitachi SuperScan 21" CRT Monitor
Western Digital 80GB SATA Hard Drive
For the purposes of our results, I will include the little brother X1900XT from Sapphire as well as an older X850XT PE (in some of the benchmarking) for comparison. The X1800 series boards were pretty much considered the black sheep of the Radeon family and are not being included in our tests.
Now that we know how we're going to test these boards, lets get down to business and see how well the big kid on the block performs!