Given these impressive 3DMark 2001 scores of the RADEON 8500 and some excellent Direct3D gaming performance overall, we were anxious to test out a few more Direct3D games. Unfortunately, the Dronez demo does not fully support the RADEON's DirectX hardware so a direct comparison against the GeForce3 was not possible.
Instead, we're going to the storage closet and dragging out one of our old D3D favorites: Re-Volt. While this game benchmark won't tell us anything new about DirectX 8.x support, it will give us a better idea on basic D3D performance in current games. In this test, we were primarily concerned with adding in an extra RADEON vs. GeForce3 D3D comparison, so the value-end cards were not tested.
Even in Re-Volt D3D testing, the RADEON 8500 falls behind early and takes a while to catch up to the GeForce3. In 16-bit testing, this occurs at 1280x1024, where the RADEON 8500 passes the GeForce3 and really starts to gain on the GeForce3 Ti 500.
When switching to the 32-bit mode, we still don't see any change in the 800x600 and 1024x768 tests, but the RADEON 8500 actually passes the GeForce3 Ti 500 at 1280x1024 and comes within a hair of matching it at 1600x1200.
In terms of a head-to-head match-up between the ATI and NVIDIA high-end products, the RADEON 8500 was up to the task, especially at the higher resolutions. For the most part, the RADEON 8500 surpassed the GeForce3 in performance and challenged the GeForce3 Ti 500 for overall supremacy. One area where the RADEON 8500 and GeForce3 cards diverged was in low-end power, as the GeForce3 models seem able to pump out more frames at 640x480. Once we get to 1024x768 or higher, the RADEON tends to make up the ground fast and usually posts impressive 1600x1200 scores as well.
This held true throughout most of the benchmarking, but the RADEON 8500 laid the hammer down by easily winning the 3DMark 2001 performance crown. While 3DMark 2001 is not an actual game, it does solidify what we found in basic gaming use: that the RADEON 8500 is an exceptionally fast Direct3D card. This is especially true at higher resolutions and color depths, as evidenced by its high Re-Volt scores in this area. The RADEON 8500 is certainly no slouch for OpenGL gaming either, though here it seemed to slide right between the performance of the GeForce3 Ti 500 and GeForce3. If ATI continues to tune the Direct3D drivers and release a better OpenGL component, we may continue to see greater performance improvements.
On the other end of the spectrum is the RADEON 7500, a card whose physical specifications are far more impressive than its overall performance. With 290 MHz core and 230 MHz memory speeds, we were expecting this board to annihilate the GeForce2 competition and maybe even nip at the heels of the GeForce3 Ti 200. Alas, it was not to be and the RADEON 7500 looked more like a challenger for the GeForce2 Ti. Since it has a price to match, this is not necessarily a bad thing, it's just that we expected a bit more from this turbo-charged RADEON DDR. Certainly the drivers could use some tuning, but it still doesn't have the huge upward potential of the RADEON 8500.