CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEM:
We tested the MSI FX5950 Ultra-VTD256 on an i875P based
MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R motherboard, powered by an Intel Pentium 4
3.2CGHz CPU. The first thing we
did when configuring this test system was enter the BIOS and
load the "High Performance Defaults". Then we set
the memory to operate at 200MHz in dual-channel mode, with the CAS
Latency and other memory timings set by the SPD, and set the AGP
aperture size to 256MB. The hard drive was then
formatted, and Windows XP Professional with SP1 was
installed. When the installation was complete, we
installed the Intel chipset drivers and then hit the Windows
Update site to download and install all of the available
updates. Then we installed all of the necessary
drivers for the rest of our components and Windows Messenger
was then disabled and removed from the system. Auto-Updating, System Restore
and Drive Indexing were then disabled as well, the hard drive was
de-fragmented and a 768MB permanent page file was created.
Lastly, we set Windows XP's Visual Effects to "best
performance", installed the benchmarking software and
ran all of the tests. The benchmarking was done with
ATi's and NVIDIA's drivers configured for maximum visual
quality. ATi's "Quality" anti-aliasing and Anisotropic
filtering methods were employed throughout our testing,
while the Performance slider available on NVIDIA's
"Performance and Quality" driver tab was set to "Quality".
For the "4X AA + Aniso" tests listed in our graphs, we
enabled 4X anti-aliasing and 8X Anisotropic filtering in both NVIDIA's
and ATi's driver panels.
HotHardware's Test Setup
Powered - 3.2GHz System
Video Cards -
Hard Drive -
Optical Drive -
Operating System -
Chipset Drivers -
Video Drivers -
Intel Pentium 4
MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R
i875P "Canterwood" Chipset
MSI FX5950 Ultra-VTD256
ATi Radeon 9800 XT
NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 Ultra
1024MB Kingston HyperX PC3500
Integrated SoundMax Audio
Western Digital "Raptor"
36GB - 10,000RPM - SATA
Lite-On 16X DVD-ROM
3.5" Floppy Drive
Windows XP Professional SP1 (Fully
Intel INF v188.8.131.522
ATI Catalyst v4.1
NVIDIA Forceware v53.06
and DX9 Shader Ops
Aquamark 3 comes to us by way of
Massive's release of the original Aquanox in 1999 wasn't
well received, but it was one of the first games to
implement DX8 shaders, which led to the creation of Aquamark 2 - a benchmark
that was used by many analysts.
Since the Aquamark benchmarks are based on an actual
game engine, they must support old and new video cards alike. Thus, Aquamark 3
utilizes not only DirectX 9 shaders, but DirectX 8 and
as well. We ran this benchmark at resolutions of 1024x768
and 1600x1200 with no
anti-aliasing, then again with 4x and 6x AA.
Throughout all of these tests, 4X Anisotropic filtering
was enabled from within Aquamark 3's control panel,
which is the default setting for this benchmark.
We used the latest Forceware
drivers (v53.06) available on MSI's website, and the latest Catalysts (v4.1) to test
the MSI FX5950 Ultra and its ATi based competition.
[ed. Of course, new drivers get released just as we're
It's no secret that NVIDIA has quite a bit of work to do
with regard to their DX9 class shader performance, and while
they have definitely made significant progress, the above graphs show that
there is still some work to be done. At both
resolutions, regardless of what level of anti-aliasing was
used, the MSI 5950 Ultra was outpaced by both of the Radeons
- No Xbox Here!
For many gamers, the release of Halo marked the end of a
since it was originally released as an Xbox exclusive a
few years back. No additional patches or tweaks
are needed to benchmark with Halo, as Gearbox has included
all of the necessary information in their README file.
The Halo benchmark runs through four of the cut-scenes from
the game, after which the average frame rate is
recorded. We ran this benchmark twice, once at 1024x768 and
then again at 1280x1024. Anti-aliasing doesn't
work properly with this game at the moment, so all of
the test below were run with anti-aliasing disabled.
All three of the cards performed
similarly in the Halo benchmark, but the Radeon 9800 XT was
the clear victor at both resolutions. The MSI FX5950
Ultra wasn't very far behind, however. At 1024x768, it
fell behind the 9800 XT by less than a single frame per
second, but the gap widened at 1280x1024 where it slipped
behind the 11-month old 256MB Radeon 9800 Pro.
Unreal Tournament 2003 & Splinter Cell Testing