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The Source for Mac Performance News and Reviews

Review: ATI's Retail Radeon AGP Graphics Card
By Mike
Published: 10/16/2000

3D Benchmarks and Application Tests Results
Intro | 2D Performance | 3D Performance | Game Performance | Video/DVD | Software/TV Controls | Hardware Specs
3D Benchmark Performance

This page lists results of tests with non-game 3D applications and benchmarks like Lightwave 3D v6.0, RaveBench v1.11, Walker v1.1, and CineBench 2000. As expected from past experience, the ATI cards have the best compatibility with 3D applications and the Radeon just adds better performance in most cases.

Lightwave 3D v6.0 Tests

I'm a total novice at Lightwave 3D v6, so the following is just my impressions from using sample scenes, running previews, moving objects, etc. and observing how the graphics card performed. The Radeon AGP card based on my first impressions seems to be the best graphics card for Lightwave that I've tested to date. I could use shaded previews with lights, etc. with the Radeon and performance seemed very good. Moving an object would result in a quick flash of the screen and then all objects would again appear shaded. Previews of scenes like the TV Guy (shown below) also worked well. For size reasons I could not show the 1280x1024 screen capture but trimmed out a scene (scaled and Jpeg compressed) below to give you some idea of what I saw. Although an actual final render would be much higher quality, (this is just a working scene window), notice the lighting effects in the corners and on objects.

Voodoo5 Tests with Lightwave 6.0/OpenGL 1.1.5: When I first ran this same scene with the Voodoo5 (first time I'd ran that card with OpenGL 1.1.5), I thought the later OpenGL version may have fixed the issues reported previously (noted in an update to my Voodoo5 review, there are samples of the V5 problems at www.exchange.co.uk/lightwave/video.htm). However when I generated a preview of the scene and went to play it back within LW, the system turned into a slug. I actually thought it had locked up since it was literally frozen, then would play a frame, then appear to freeze again, until finally I was able to cancel the preview playback. Not only did performance literally freeze, but the preview window was a maze of Kaleidoscope colors. 3dfx is working on a fix for Lightwave 3D issues now so this hopefully will be resolved in an update to the drivers soon. (there's also a Mac LW 6.1 update due soon I hear with other improvements/fixes.)


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. (I've included tests from the BTO OEM Radeon and Rage128 PRO AGP card in my dual G4/500 system as well as the Radeon retail AGP card and Voodoo5 in my single CPU G4/500 system.) 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. (With the current drivers, there are image/texture mapping problems with Cinema4D and the Voodoo5, which also shows in the CineBench2000 test both in image quality and OpenGL performance.)

CineBench 2000 Software OpenGL Render
Radeon AGP
(G4/500 single CPU)
5.35 6.75 6.62
Voodoo5 PCI
(G4/500 single CPU)
5.19 2.81 6.45
Radeon AGP OEM
(G4/500 dual CPU)
5.10 6.43 11.53
Rage128 PRO AGP
(G4/500 dual CPU)
5.10 6.34 11.41

Note the disappointing results with the Voodoo5's OpenGL mode performance. It was slower than Cinema's software mode.

I've added CineBench 2000 as one of the benchmark options on my Mac Game/Video card performance database. If you download CineBench 2000, please enter your results.


Walker 1.1 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 1024x768, millions colors (Walker uses a 350x350 default window size). Scores are in Frames Per Second (FPS), higher is better. I used v1.1 of Walker since that is what was used in previous reviews and allowed listing other cards tested with that version.

Although the graph is sorted by the highest Max framerates, in my opinion the most important figure is the lowest framerate during the test, as that indicates how the card handles the toughest part of the scene.

Walker Rave spin tests


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 1280x1024, millions color mode. I didn't realize until adding text to the graph that the Voodoo5 test was run in 16bit mode. Regardless the Radeon was significantly faster even at 32bit mode as well as have excellent image quality in each of the tests (the Voodoo5 as noted in my review of it does not show any texture mapping in RaveBench). I only provided tests against the Voodoo5 after several readers asked for it after seeing the Radeon OEM (BTO) AGP vs. Rage128 Pro AGP Ravebench results from the G4/500 dual processor system tests.

For an explanation and pictures of each of RaveBench's tests, see my Illustrated Guide to RaveBench published in 1998.

RaveBench Test Results

As you can see from the results, most all Radeon scores exceeded the benchmark's expected maximums. Image quality with the Radeon in each of the 5 tests was excellent. Had it not been so late I'd have re-ran the Voodoo5 tests at 32bit mode, but I thought it was really pointless considering the performance and image quality issues in this particular test.

Although I didn't get to test the Rage128 Pro AGP in my single G4/500 against the Radeon, I did compare these two in my dual G4/500 system. The graph below shows the results. Using the same drivers at least, the Radeon's performance is much better than the Rage128 Pro.



3D Apps/Benchmarks Performance Summary: Based on what I've seen, the Radeon's 3D performance is good. While RAVE will likely to not be supported in OS X as OpenGL is becoming the Mac 3D API standard, many RAVE games still exist, and in general ATI's cards have had a history of the best RAVE compatibility.

I know that game performance is important in a graphics card to many of you, so the next page shows results I had running several popular 3D games.


Index of RetaiI Radeon AGP Review

Intro | 2D Performance | 3D Performance | Game Performance | Video/DVD | Software/TV Controls | Hardware Specs

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