|MSI Radeon HD 4850 Video Card R4850-512M|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Tuesday, 14 October 2008|
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3DMark06 Benchmark Results
3DMark is a computer benchmark by Futuremark (formerly named Mad Onion) to determine the DirectX 9 performance of 3D game performance with graphics cards. 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests.
3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today. Some enthusiasts may note that Benchmark Reviews does not include CPU-bound tests in our benchmark battery, and that only graphic-bound tests are included.
Here at Benchmark Reviews, we believe that synthetic benchmark tools are just as valuable as video games, but only so long as you're comparing apples to apples. Since the same test is applied in the same controlled method with each test run, I believe 3DMark is a very reliable tool for comparing graphic cards against one-another.
Using a base resolution of 1024x768 as our starting point (representative of 17" LCD monitors) the maximum settings were applied to 3DMark06, which for these tests includes 8x Anti-Aliasing and 16x Anisotropic Filtering. Low-resolution testing allows the graphics processor to plateau maximum output performance, which thereby shifts demand onto the system components to keep up. At the lower resolutions 3DMark will reflect the GPU's top-end speed in the composite score, indicating full-throttle performance with little load. This makes for a less GPU-dependant test environment, and is helpful in measuring the maximum output performance in the test results.
There doesn't seem to be any question that 3DMark06 really likes the CrossFireX pair of Radeon HD 4850 video cards. Because of the added overhead of combined graphics processors and video frame buffer memory, the light load created by the shader model 2.0 tests have a negative impact on the CrossFireX score. Another way of describing this phenomenon is comparing the combined Radeon HD 4850 video cards to a race car with only the highest gears available: it will have a faster top-end speed, but it will take longer to get there.
The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 280 AMP! Edition video card is appears to also be another high-gear example, as it is nudged out by the GeForce 9800 GX2 for SM 2.0 tests but outperforms the GX2 in the more complex HDR/SMR 2.0 tests. At our lowest test resolution of 1024x768, the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 280 AMP! Edition puts the reference NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280 a decent margin below it.
Bumping the GPU strain up a notch with 1280x1024 resolutions the scores remain relatively comparable in terms of performance ratio. More visitors to Benchmark Reviews operate at this resolution than anything else, as it represents the native resolution of 19" LCD monitors. The MSI Radeon HD 4850 keeps pace with the GeForce 9800 GTX at this resolution, in the same way the Gigabyte GeForce 9800 GX2 keep pace with the overclocked GeForce GTX 280 AMP! Edition video card. However, moving into the more advanced HDR tests there is a decisive lead over the 9800 GTX by the Radeon HD 4850, and the ZOTAC GTX 280 takes a healthy single-GPU lead over the crowd.
At the widescreen resolution of 1680x1050, the scores are practically identical in ratio to all of our previous tests. Once again, the shader model 2.0 tests put the 9800 GTX barely ahead of the HD 4850, at least until they reach the shader model 3.0 tests where everything is reversed. Twin Radeon HD 4850 video cards in a CrossFireX set are still running circles around the competition in 3DMark06, and the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 280 AMP! Edition is the most powerful single-GPU video card.
While the entire G90-series GPU family is PCI Express 2.0 compatible, there doesn't seem to be enough demand to create an immediate advantage. However, with the much higher-output GT200 GPU, the bandwidth demands raise from 6.4 GBps on the GeForce 8800 GTX to 12.8 GBps on the GTX 280. The Radeon CrossFireX set of HD 4850 video cards actually seems to work very well with our test motherboard, the Gigabyte GA-X48T-DQ6.
Finishing up the series of synthetic benchmark tests under heavy load, the FOXCONN GeForce 9800 GTX Standard OC Edition video card matches the MSI Radeon HD 4850 in the SM 2 tests, yet the Radeon HD 4850 dominates over the 9800 GTX by 32% in the more advanced shader model 3.0 tests. It would take two Sapphire Radeon HD 4850's to beat out the GeForce 9800 GX2, and both standard and ZOTAC-overclocked GTX 280 video cards.
One of NVIDIA's goals for the GT200 was to produce a GPU that doubles the performance of the 8800 GTX, but it looks like ZOTAC's goal was a little different as it nearly doubles the performance of the newer 9800 GTX. Producing 3647 HDR/SM3 points, the ZOTAC GTX 280 AMP! Edition outperforms the twin-G92 9800 GX2 by only 6%, and the Radeon HD 4850 by 41%. However, taking cost into consideration, the CrossFireX set of Radeon HD 4850's outperforms the more expensive GTX 280 by over 40% in 3DMark06.
Take the 3DMark06 tests at face value, because in our next section we begin real-world testing on a cadre of popular video games known for taxing the graphics processor, and the performance curve is expected change. Our first up is Crysis, so please continue on...