ATI X1K Driver Analysis - More performance for X1800XL

While experimenting with some new ATI drivers, we managed to get performance out of the Radeon X1800XL.
| Oct 17, 2005 at 11:00 pm CDT
Manufacturer: none


IntroductionWhen we were testing the new Radeon X1800XL from Sapphire, we tried to install the driver that came with our X1800XT reference sample directly from ATI to compare the performance numbers.Low and behold, it worked and we noticed some extra performance gains in the Radeon X1800XL, compared to the drivers that shipped with the reference card that went out to all other website reviewers. This should indicate that we'll see the new VPU from ATI performing better next month in the Catalyst 5.11 (November 2005) drivers which should officially support ATI's new X1K series of graphics cards.We suppose you could consider this article a prelude of our upcoming Cat 5.11 performance analysis which will be posted around mid next month.The two drivers that we will be testing are the and the 8.173.1-050921a-026915E which both seem to have been created on the same day (21st September 2005) but one is WHQL and the other isn't. We won't be hosting these drivers for download as they aren't publicly available and ATI probably wouldn't like us letting them out to the public. We ran a few of our regular benchmarks and we manage to pull more performance out of the X1800XL - and we don't need to explain how much we love free performance... Let's begin and examine our testing results.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup and Half Life 2

Test System SetupProcessor(s): AMD Athlon X2 3800+ Motherboard(s): ASUS A8N SLI Premium (Supplied by ASUS)Memory: 2 X 512MB Mushkin PC4000 DDR (Supplied by Mushkin)Hard Disk(s): WD Raptor 74GB 10,000RPM SATA (Supplied by Western Digital)Operating System: Windows XP ProfessionalDrivers: Unreleased drivers from ATI and DX9c While we did run our full suite of benchmarks during testing, since this article is outside of our regular Catalyst performance analysis articles, we only included the benchmarks were we saw a different result in performance numbers - Half Life 2, Doom 3 and AA and AF.Half Life 2Version and / or Patch Used: UnpatchedTimedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: Product Homepage: http://www.half-life2.comBuy It Here
By taking the suspense, challenge and visceral charge of the original, and adding startling new realism and responsiveness, Half-Life 2 opens the door to a world where the player's presence affects everything around him, from the physical environment to the behaviors even the emotions of both friends and enemies.We benchmark Half Life 2 with our own custom timedemos as to avoid possible driver optimizations using the "record demo_name" command and loading the timedemo with the "timedemo demo_name" command - For a full list of the commands, click here.
We can see a 5% increase in both resolutions in our Half Life 2 testing. Considering both drivers were released on the same day, it isn't bad at all and shows ATI still has potential to draw more performance out of their latest series of graphics cards.

Benchmarks - Doom 3

Doom 3Version and / or Patch Used: UnpatchedTimedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: Product Homepage: http://www.doom3.comBuy It Here
Doom 3 is the latest game to hit our test lab and is one of the most intensive games to dates. With our own custom time demo we are able to give a realistic rating on what kind of FPS you will be achieving.For more information on benchmarking Doom 3 we recommend you check out our extensive article regarding it here.
The best thing about Doom 3 benchmarking is that the results are always so consistent - the difference between test to test isn't 1 FPS, its less, which means when we get a 3 or 4 FPS gain that it does actually exist and isn't part of fluctuation.Again we can see ATI managed to improve performance of the X1800XL at the lower resolution and it's a sign we'll see more performance improvements in the next Catalyst driver.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AFIn our High Quality tests we bump the Antialiasing (AA) and Anisotropic Filtering (AF) up causing the card(s) to be put under more load.This usually helps us remove the CPU limitation. We use 4 x AA and 8 x AF as this is quite a common setup for most people who are venturing into the AA and AF area.
When it came to testing AA and AF we found that there was a slight dip in performance but nothing that you would worry about. This is something ATI will most likely fix before the next official driver release.

Final Thoughts

Final ThoughtsWe don't have anything huge on our hands but it is interesting to see that the WHQL driver that was provided by Sapphire does give us a slight jump in performance. What this mainly tells us though is that there is going to be some performance there for future driver releases which will keep us on our toes.We found that with the non-WHQL driver installed, Doom 3 was unable to benchmark when AA and AF was enabled but had absolutely no problems running at these settings on the X1800XT.We are really looking forward to the release of the Catalyst 5.11 drivers and it's safe to say that nobody should be writing ATI out of the graphic card books just yet as we don't doubt they aren't going to put a fight up. While nVidia's latest driver sees a very good performance jump on our Dual Core system, it still isn't an official driver and their current official driver is dated more then six weeks ago with still a few weeks to the release 80 series comes out. If you have purchased an X1800XL already and want to make sure you have the latest driver you can simply enter Catalyst Control Center, go to View and click advanced view and make your way to the information center. The particular part you are looking for is the Driver Packaging Version and the particular one we are after is otherwise wait till ATI officially release the next set of Catalyst drivers in two or three weeks time.

Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:26 pm CDT

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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