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Comparison Tests: Radeon AGP vs Rage128 Pro AGP
By Mike
Published: 10/5/2000

Benchmarks, 2D and 3D including Photoshop 5.5 and Word Scrolling Performance
Intro | Game Performance | Benchmarks/Apps Tests

This page covers the (expected) MacBench 5.0 benchmark results, a scrolling test in Photoshop 5.5, Word 98, CineBench 2000, Walker 3D, G4Timedemo and RaveBench tests. Also included are comments on Quicktime 4 movie playback.

I have not yet installed Lighwave 3D 6.0 on the new G4/500 DP system yet. For those that think a video card can magically transform 3D Rendering apps like LW into silky smooth performance, remember CPU speed is the main factor in improving 3D/modeling applications rendering speed. A video card can improve the display of models with shading, but it can't speed up the calculations of 3D lighting, etc. needed for final scene rendering. (And like any professional application, you can never have too much RAM. RAM is the first upgrade to make for any Mac and even 3D games now need over 100MB. I'd want 192MB or more in any Mac running OS 9 or later with any 3D applications.)



MacBench 5.0 Results

The graphs below show the results of MacBench's Graphics scripted test (emulation of Mac applications graphics calls, scrolling, zooming, searching/replacing, etc. ). Results with the "Publishing" test (1152x870/millions colors) as well as the "Graphics" test (at 1024x768, thousands color mode) are shown.

Macbench 5.0 results graph

Macbench 5.0 results graph


Interesting Note:

In MacBench's Quickdraw primitives tests, the Rage128 Pro was faster than the Radeon in some specific functions, especially in 1024x768/thousands color mode tests where text based functions like DrawChar, DrawString and DrawText were from 20% to 40% faster than the Radeon. At 1152x870/millions colors, these text/character based tests showed much less deltas - from no difference (DrawChar) to 11% (DrawString and DrawText). However even at 1152x870, millions colors many Copybits modes were up to 89% faster with the Rage128 Pro. Granted this is the first driver release for the Radeon so these oddities may be improved in future updates. Also remember MacBench 5 is a synthetic benchmark (no longer available from ZDnet) and it's far from the definitive indicator of performance but I wanted to mention this fact as it was interesting. I have saved images of the performance graphs (long and boring) that I may post at a later date. Real world tests below show that despite the primitives test results, the Radeon was never slower at 2D tests.


Photoshop 5.5 Scrolling Tests

I measured the time it took to scroll the Flowers.psd file (resampled to 300DPI) at the maximum zoom (1600%). I positioned the scroll bars at the max left and top positions, and then timed how long it took for each card to scroll the image horizontally (left to right) and then vertically (down). Display was set to 1152x870, millions colors. The results are shown in the table below along with the performance (% rounded to the nearest integer) gain seen from the Radeon card. All times are in seconds, lower numbers are faster.

Photoshop 5.5 Scrolling Horizontal Vertical
Radeon OEM AGP
11.2 10.74
Rage128 PRO AGP
13.7 12.86
Gain %
22% 20%



Word 98 Scrolling Tests

I measured the time it took to scroll the a 6.9MB document file (2,187 pages, 45K paragraphs, 144,799 lines) with multiple font sizes, etc. from the first page to the last and then from the last page to the first. Word was allocated 40MB (many times the document size). Display was set to 1152x870, millions colors. The results are shown in the table below along with the performance (%) gain seen from the Radeon card. All times are in seconds, lower numbers are faster.

Word 98 Scrolling Scroll Dn Scroll Up
Radeon OEM AGP
60.1 70.6
Rage128 PRO AGP
65.1 77.2
Gain %
8% 9%



CineBench 2000 v1.0 Tests

I used Maxon's Cinebench 2000 benchmark (available here) to test both cards. The first number is their software mode, the 2nd score is OpenGL mode and the 3rd number is a rendering rating. (Since this is a dual processor machine the rendering score shown is the one using both CPUs.) Higher numbers are faster - however with the same base machine used only the OpenGL score is really of interest in this test comparing video card performance. Graphics mode was set to 1024x768, millions colors.

CineBench 2000 Software OpenGL Render
Radeon OEM AGP
5.10 6.43 11.53
Rage128 PRO AGP
5.10 6.34 11.41
Gain %
N/A 1% 1%



G4Timedemo v032 Tests

G4Timedemo (available here) is a 3D benchmark that uses Altivec instructions (aka 'Velocity Engine). For this test Preferences were set to Millions colors and Amazing quality. The table below shows the average FPS (frames per second) with each card (higher numbers are faster).

G4Timedemo Avg FPS
Radeon OEM AGP
64.3
Rage128 PRO AGP
64.3
Gain %
N/A


That's no typo - the exact same scores were reported with both cards in this test.


Walker 1.2 QD3D Tests

I measured the minimum and maximum framerates using Lightwork's Walker program (no longer available at their web site). I used the highest polygon scene, Corridor (49,002 polgyons). Graphics mode was set to 1152x870, millions colors. Scores are in Frames Per Second (FPS), higher is better. (In my opinion the most important figure is the lowest framerate during the test, as that indicates how the card handles the most demanding part of the scene.)

Walker 1.2 Corridor Min FPS Max FPS
Radeon OEM AGP
14.12 86
Rage128 PRO AGP
14.00 84
Gain %
<1% 2%


RaveBench 1.11 Test Results

I used VillageTronic's RaveBench 1.11 Benchmark (only available on the CD supplied with their graphics cards to my knowledge). Unlike past tests, I ran this comparison at the highest resolution supported by RaveBench - 1024x768. Desktop (Monitors Control Panel) was set to 1152x768, millions color mode. The Radeon was significantly faster than the Rage128 Pro in this test using the same system and drivers.

RaveBench Test Results

As you can see from the results, most all Radeon scores even at 1024x768 exceeded the benchmark's expected maximums. Image quality with both cards in each of the 5 tests was excellent.



Quicktime Movie Performance:

I didn't bother to post a table of the results, since every movie I tested including the Phantom Menace high-res, 44KHz audio didn't show any real framerate or quality differences between the two cards with full-screen playback. Tests at full screen, 1152x870, millions colors showed both cards in this dual G4/500 system never dropped even 1 FPS below the movie's original rate.


About DVD Movie Performance:

I've not had time to compare DVD performance, however comments in my forum from ATI's DVD programmer says the Radeon should have the lowest CPU cycle usage of any graphics card to date for DVD playback as well as addition hardware support features. Since the current Apple DVD player is software based, this might be of some help but don't expect it to be as responsive to controls as hardware based solutions like the Wired4DVD decoder card (previously reviewed here). But since it's a freebie, I'm satisfied with DVD playback on the new G4s and rarely use it since I have a DVD home player. (It is nice on the PowerBooks however to be able to watch a movie while traveling.)


Summary/Conclusions:

Based on all the results here should a new Mac buyer pay the $100 extra for a Radeon card instead of the standard Rage128 Pro card? In my opinion, yes. Although the Radeon has the same poor 16Bit image quality of the previous Rage128 cards, there's really no significant performance drop to running 32bit mode which looks very good from what I've seen so far. The Radeon also addresses the major complaint I had with the Rage128 series of cards - too low a fill rate to make 1024x768 gaming usable.

Considering this is only the first release of Radeon compatible drivers and OpenGL, I expect things to improve in the future. (I hear another 10% in performance may be possible at the lower resolutions with driver optimizations). Although Quake3 is said not use hardware lighting, it does benefit from hardware Transform and Clipping supported by the Radeon. I don't expect FSAA to be as good as the Voodoo5 (due to that card's proprietary FSAA scheme and higher fill rates), but all things considered - DVD, 3D pro apps, Rave and Gaming, plus lower power usage, cool running and good gaming performance, the Radeon is one option that no new G4 tower or Cube owner should pass up.


Pros:

  • $100 BTO upgrade cost is well worth it for 3D gaming fans.
  • Higher fill rate delivers much faster 3D Game Performance at higher resolutions.
  • Hardware support for transform, clipping and lighting
    (hardware accelerated lighting not enabled in OpenGL 1.1.5)
  • ADC connector for new Apple Displays
  • No Fan (in Tower model), chip runs relatively cool
  • Plays DVD movies (should show improvements over prev. chips, but I've not tested that yet)
  • Good general driver compatibility (RAVE/OpenGL/Quicktime applications)

Cons:

  • MacBench 5.0 2D scores and some graphics primitives are lower performance than Rage128 Pro
    (but it's just a benchmark)
  • Only small gains seen in 2D applications (at least with the first driver release).
  • ADC connector is non-standard - no DVI LCD monitor port.
    (ADC to DVI is easy to do and the Apple store has an adapter cable listed for about $35, due to ship this month)
  • 16Bit mode still shows dithering (mesh pattern).
    (although there's no real need to run that mode since 32Bit mode performance is literally identical)
  • RAVE mode games can still show banding/dithering on halos and fog (Unreal Tournament shows this)



Related Links: For more info on graphics card performance, reviews and other related articles - see the main www.xlr8yourmac.com site's video cards page. (There's also a review of the Retail Radeon card there.)


Index of Radeon AGP vs Rage128 Pro AGP Comparison

Intro | Game Performance | Benchmarks/Apps Tests

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