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cvearl
03-17-03, 03:12 PM
This is my experience going from an MSI Geforce 4Ti4200 to a Sapphire 9700 NP OEM. I am not a reviewer from a big magazine or website. Just joe gamer who has been at this a long time.

I have been waiting since October (having read about the 9700 Pro) to upgrade. I have been using nVidia products since the RIVA 128 and TNT2 and have since had a Gefoce 2GTS and now a G4Ti4200.

I was really looking forward to using ATI now. In the past, prior to every nVidia purchase I have made I would first buy the current ATI offering as I am from Canada and like to see them succeed. And frankly, since the days of the ATI SVGA Wonder, I missed the desktop quality. Going from the SVGA Wonder to Riva 128, I really saw the drop in desktop quality and sharpness of text. From what I can tell now, that difference went away since the G2GTS. My last attempt was going from the Geforce 2GTS to the G4Ti4200 (I currently own) I first picked up a Retail ATI 8500-128. I did a fresh install of XP ect... but the card just could not compare to the G4Ti4200 for performance and stability in games and overall was slower. And really, I could not see a difference in desktop quality. I knew that ATI was about to release a new family so I stayed with the G4Ti4200 as a temp card to wait for the reviews. Ever since I read about the 9700/9500 products I have wanted one. Well.... Here's my experience. Keep in mind, I wanted an ATI product this time. I really did...

I brough the new 9700 NP OEM home last Friday. I did a complete uninstall and scrubbed the nVidia drivers from my XP installation. Turned off my PC and installed the 9700. Booted great and found 2 VGA devices (which I was told is normal). So far so good. I installed the latest CAT 3.2's and then the latest control pannel. System was stable.

I waited until now to get the 9700 because of the issues with Freelancer. I play alot of it so I waited for the 3.2's.

DESKTOP - desktop looked great. I was feelin good! But I really could not tell the difference between that and the G4 desktop except the red's looked a tad redder.

FREELANCER - Well I fired it up and to my relief, it ran silky smooth and at least as good as it ran on my G4. No crashes no nothing. Just like my G4. While it was no doubt running faster than my G4, I could not really tell the difference. The colors looked just as good on both cards. Happy, I turned on 4X AA and it still ran fine (as expected). But AA has never excited me that much so it really did not matter. The slight jagged edges you see from time to time while playing a game never truely bother me as much as it did some. I was too busy having fun. I know the real difference would have come from comparing in REALLY high resolutions. I know the 9700 would play better than my G4. Problem is I never go over 1024x768x32 due to crappy refresh rates on my monitor. So as it sits, no real benefit other than nicer looking AA in this game.

UT2003 - I play this alot. More than I should I reccon. I use the stat_fps command all the time and I am very familiar with this game on my G4. I always play 1024x768x32 all options set to normal. BUT! to my suprise, on the 9700, it did not seem as SMOOTH to me. Control of my guy was not as fluent. This was only slight but I felt it. I don't know how to explain it. Closest word I can come up with is stuttering when I pan my view. But STUTTERING is WAYYY to strong a word as it is so very subtle. Wierd thing was though that stat_fps was showing slightly higher framerates over what the reading usually was with my G4. I played for hours to see if it was just me. If my G4 normally got 60 fps in a map average, then the 9700 was getting 75 or so. But the slight erratic frames was annoying.I wrote it off to my imagination. The next morning, my 15 year old son got up and played UT2003 as he often does on Saturday mornings before I get up. His first words to me were "what's wrong with UT2003?". He could not explain what he felt but only that it felt not as fluid in motion but still very fast. Keep in mind, he did not know I changed the card. This kid never complains usually so at this point I knew it was not my imagination. In addition, in the 6 or so hours of UT2003 I played with this 9700, I was thrown out 2 times to a critical error screen. This never ever happend to me before.

3DMARK 2001SE - Ran all the way through. The score was 12,869 compared to my G4's 11,211. Looking into the details of both in a comparison, the 9700 was only slightly faster in most games tests. The higher score was a result of it being twice as fast with Shader and bump mapping tests. However, visually, I noticed some small flaws. There was slight "clipping" in the nature scene with the boat sitting in the water and a few (very small) texture issues on the nose of the boat in the same scene. Never seen this on my G4 before. Otherwise it ran great.

Lastly, COUNTERSTRIKE - Starting up and getting into a game was no problem. Very slight dips in frame rates from time to time but acceptable and I knew some people had that with ATI so I was not worried. It's an old game. However, leaving a game to get another server threw me out to a black screen with nothing left to do but a HARD shutdown and restart.

Summary - I could not tell the diff in desktop quality. Freelancer felt the same on both cards. UT2003 just did not feel right or at least was a touch jittery when panning my view side to side and it crashed twice (I NEVER expected that). 3DMARK2001 was a little faster but really, I can no longer see the difference after my scores broke 10,000. The only issue was the wierd clipping of the waves showing through the boat in the water (slight and brief but they were there). And lastly, counterstrike would not successfully exit to the menu for me.

All of this did not add up to me trading my $229 CDN G4Ti4200 for a $369 CDN 9700 OEM. I don't see what all the fuss is about. AA is really not a big deal to me. But I WOULD like it. Barring AA performance and quality on the ATI, I have to say that nVidia still has better drivers. Sorry but that's how it feels in real world gaming to me. YES I know the FX is a failure or dissapointment. And I know the drivers for the FX have not been good as there have been visual anomolies. But in the G4 world and ever since the G2's they have been bulltproof for me and anyone I know who has owned one. Visually speaking I cannot see the difference until AA is enabled.

I really wish nVidia had come out with a better family than the FX. I will likely get a 9600 Pro as I know it too will be faster than my G4 and my son wants my G4 in his computer. He only has a TNT2. But waiting for the 9600 Pro will probably allow for more improvements in the Catalyst drivers. They are so close now. Just a little better ATI and I'm there!

If anyone here thinks that I reached these results I described above in error, please tell me what I could have done differently.

Charles.

PreservedSwine
03-17-03, 03:32 PM
I could have told you not tp spend your money and go through all your troubles based on this....

AA is really not a big deal to me.

That's about the only reason to buy an FX or R9700...

Also:If anyone here thinks that I reached these results I described above in error, please tell me what I could have done differently Asked the same question before you returned the R9700

That being said, I think the Ti4200 is a great choice for the $$, enjoy:)

ReDeeMeR
03-17-03, 03:46 PM
Guys like you make me want to wait till NV35 and I hate waiting :mad:

;)

StealthHawk
03-17-03, 03:47 PM
yup. the only use newer cards have is for their ability to use FSAA and AF with faster speeds and at higher resolution.

Joe DeFuria
03-17-03, 03:51 PM
Originally posted by cvearl AA is really not a big deal to me. ...

What PreservedSwine said....

If AA isn't all that big a deal to you, it doesn't make much too much sense to upgrade from a GF4 at this time. Though I'm guessing you really didn't play with AA all that much. It's one of those things that once you get used to playing with it....it's REALLY hard to go back to playing without it. ;)

Most every existing game is CPU limited in non AA cases in real game situations on the latest hardware. We could have saved you the trouble of buying and returning it. :)

Having said that, newer games (like Doom3) will start making it the opposite. They will tend to be GPU limited, even without AA. You'll want a 9700 (or an FX) when that time comes.

But until those games arrive, there's not much reason to upgrade from a Geforce4 if for whatever reason AA doesn't matter much to you.

At the same time, if you don't have a Geforce4 class card, there's not much reason to upgrade to anything else other than an R300 based product at this time.

saturnotaku
03-17-03, 03:53 PM
As PS said, if FSAA wasn't a big deal to you then you probably shouldn't have spent the money on that 9700. Me, once I started messing with FSAA on my GeForce3, I couldn't play games without it. So I bought my R300-based card and I've been really happy with it.

Just so you know, I've been kicked out of UT2003 with critical errors myself with the 2199 patch and the Catalyst 3.2 drivers. I'm going to try Omega's latest release and see if that helps, if not I'll probably drop back to the Catalyst 3.1's, which had given me no problems whatsoever. For the first time, I actually have a set of ATI drivers I can fall back on in case I have problems.

In any case, get that Ti4200 back in your system and keep enjoying your games.

StuRReaL
03-17-03, 04:35 PM
pifft :| typical.

You have an odd machine my friend :D i trust u plugged in the additional power lead :D

The 9700 is quicker than a 9600 and besides you should always buy the PRO versions imo

Personally my Radeon8500 is great and a Radeon9800 is next and Cat 3.3 will bring a huge speed boost as ATi found out while coding the Radeon9800 driver path :)

And jittering is down to refresh stuff i can't even play it on mine my Radeon coughs and splutters a plenty need a better CPU

jbirney
03-17-03, 04:46 PM
First off all you should have reformated you system to ensure NV drivers are gone. When video card reviews are done they always start out with a fresh system. There is a reson for that. Not saying you didn't do a good job. Just saying when in doubt format it out :)

For UT2k3 I have never had a stuttering issue. I develop mods for UT and spend about 1-2 hrs every night in the game and engine. I have never had or saw an issue like this. You do have to let it cache all of the items up before you start to play. I know that a lot of people did have issues with stuttering. I had them only on NOLF2. And a drive update fixed them. And I do believe that you do have issues. Just not everyone does..

The CS/HL thin was a known screw up. I have no idea how they let that out. But ATI has acknowledge the bug... Still some one otta be slapped for letting that one out!

cvearl
03-17-03, 04:57 PM
Originally posted by jbirney
First off all you should have reformated you system to ensure NV drivers are gone. When video card reviews are done they always start out with a fresh system. There is a reson for that. Not saying you didn't do a good job. Just saying when in doubt format it out :)

For UT2k3 I have never had a stuttering issue. I develop mods for UT and spend about 1-2 hrs every night in the game and engine. I have never had or saw an issue like this. You do have to let it cache all of the items up before you start to play. I know that a lot of people did have issues with stuttering. I had them only on NOLF2. And a drive update fixed them. And I do believe that you do have issues. Just not everyone does..

The CS/HL thin was a known screw up. I have no idea how they let that out. But ATI has acknowledge the bug... Still some one otta be slapped for letting that one out!

Hey. Don't get me wrong. Had I sayyyy come from a Geforce 2GTS to a 9700, UT2003 would have seemed like a whole new game! The stuttering I spoke of is almost un-noticable. I even said stuttering was waayyyy to strong a word for it. When turning and shooting, it just did not seem as smooth even though the frame rates were generally higher than on my G4. It just felt too jumpy in comparison. It probably is not "wrong" but I prefer the nvidia rendition.

Charles.

-=DVS=-
03-17-03, 04:59 PM
Good review

And yes for current old games if you don't use AA or AF then there is very little speed gain however more complex games like Doom3 / splinter cell / all the news games comeing out done on DX9 or so will run alot better on DX9 cards , even DX8 games who use alot of Pixel Shaders will run faster on Radeon9700+ or GFFX for that matter :rolleyes:

Right now hardware is ahead of software level :D

cvearl
03-17-03, 05:00 PM
Originally posted by StuRReaL
pifft :| typical.

You have an odd machine my friend :D i trust u plugged in the additional power lead :D

The 9700 is quicker than a 9600 and besides you should always buy the PRO versions imo

Personally my Radeon8500 is great and a Radeon9800 is next and Cat 3.3 will bring a huge speed boost as ATi found out while coding the Radeon9800 driver path :)

And jittering is down to refresh stuff i can't even play it on mine my Radeon coughs and splutters a plenty need a better CPU

Yes the lead was plugged in. It's not even an older AGP slot either. The power supply is an enermax 350 watt. As for refresh, I use Reffix and my monitor says 85Hz when I am playing the game.

Charles.

cvearl
03-17-03, 05:04 PM
Originally posted by -=DVS=-
Good review

And yes for current old games if you don't use AA or AF then there is very little speed gain however more complex games like Doom3 / splinter cell / all the news games comeing out done on DX9 or so will run alot better on DX9 cards , even DX8 games who use alot of Pixel Shaders will run faster on Radeon9700+ or GFFX for that matter :rolleyes:

Right now hardware is ahead of software level :D

I will be going back to ATI in comming months. The drivers can only get better. If the 9700 OEM is still around, I may get that. The 9700 Pro might even fall into my price point. If these are not reality by then, I will get a 9600 Pro RETAIL. I am just a mainstream kinda guy. This is all unless of course nVidia suprises everyone and pulls the NV35 out of thier butt and it turns out to be a contender!

Charles.:eek:

cvearl
03-17-03, 05:11 PM
Originally posted by PreservedSwine
I could have told you not tp spend your money and go through all your troubles based on this....



That's about the only reason to buy an FX or R9700...

Also: Asked the same question before you returned the R9700

That being said, I think the Ti4200 is a great choice for the $$, enjoy:)

I know now. But prior to this, I had spent a long time over at Rage3D and I somehow beleived that my G4 graphics were supposedly ugly. I now know that that is not the case. Had I known all of this, I would not have bought it to compare. It was a fun exersize non-the-less.

Charles.

StuRReaL
03-17-03, 05:40 PM
Originally posted by cvearl
Yes the lead was plugged in. It's not even an older AGP slot either. The power supply is an enermax 350 watt. As for refresh, I use Reffix and my monitor says 85Hz when I am playing the game.

Charles.

ok, i like to make sure :) tell ATi about the problem :) they'll look into it.

http://apps.ati.com/driverfeedback/

go there fill in, submit and they'll prolly have it fixed by cat3.3 in about 4 weeks time :) HOWEVER U MAY NOT GET A REPLY.

I did when i submitted a bug with the OpenGL driver which caused problems in GTKRadiant

ChrisRay
03-17-03, 05:44 PM
If AA/AF is not a big deal. Then a Geforce 3 or Radeon 9000 Pro is sufficient...

cvearl
03-17-03, 06:09 PM
Originally posted by ChrisRay
If AA/AF is not a big deal. Then a Geforce 3 or Radeon 9000 Pro is sufficient...

Ultimately AA is a good enough reason to make a change. But at this point (owning a G4Ti4200), I am better off waiting for a few more months. DOOM III is comming as well as others. Cards are only going to get faster and ATI's drivers can only get better. The BIG upgrade sweetspot for me and others like me is looking more like June or July.

Charles.

jAkUp
03-17-03, 06:12 PM
i dont even use aa really... i just crank the res as high as it goes:D

ChrisRay
03-17-03, 06:15 PM
Originally posted by cvearl
Ultimately AA is a good enough reason to make a change. But at this point (owning a G4Ti4200), I am better off waiting for a few more months. DOOM III is comming as well as others. Cards are only going to get faster and ATI's drivers can only get better. The BIG upgrade sweetspot for me and others like me is looking more like June or July.

Charles.


Well IMO I think Doom 3 is gonna run fine on a Geforce 4 card, I believe anything beyond a Radeon 8500 Geforc4 + are gonna run this game fine. Albeit not max details. But you know.

My Radeon 9500 pro probably won't run this game at max...

StuRReaL
03-17-03, 06:19 PM
AA isn't all that well no if u don't have a card capable of doing efficiently

and a gf3 or Radeon9000 is enough WTF???

Unreal 2 has problems on my Radeon 8500 and there faster than Radeon9000's

ChrisRay
03-17-03, 06:23 PM
Originally posted by StuRReaL
AA isn't all that well no if u don't have a card capable of doing efficiently

and a gf3 or Radeon9000 is enough WTF???

Unreal 2 has problems on my Radeon 8500 and there faster than Radeon9000's

Once again. Subjective to what settings/resolutions you are running.

Higher resolution is just another setting to me. I consider it in the same league with AA...

StuRReaL
03-17-03, 06:37 PM
well for all games i consider 1024x768x32 is always optimal above this and performance is seriously impacted

DrFx
03-17-03, 06:50 PM
Oboy hehe wait for a new card or not, thats the probs for us Pc gamers as allways ..Myself got a Gforce 4 Ti 4600 and was so close to buy my first ATI card ever the 9700 Pro but then the 9800 is closing in and now I hear that Nvidia mayby will lounch their Nv35 soon hmmm, seems to that I have to wait some more again then.!!
Problem is that my card cant handle AA and/or AF (as you know) with good enough frames but it have to do for now hehe..so back to waiting bench again hmmm.!!

And to "SteelthHawk" I appologuise for my bad behaivor on the Ps3 tread earlier when I called you a console fanboy ;)

Now back to some Enclave, really nice game.!!

Nutty
03-17-03, 08:03 PM
Perhaps the difference in UT2k you felt was due to differing amount of frame buffering? Drivers buffer up so many frames in advance.

I was developing a PS2 app a while back, and we had a PC profile, as this title was using a middleware rendering system. In D3D mode of the middleware, my project was buffering up stupid amount of frames ahead, which made the controls unusable. I had to switch to the GL implementation to fix it.

Now, if nv buffer up say 3 frames, and ATI 4, there will be an increased slight delay between controls and the visual feedback. It's most likely this.

Tweak programs allow you to see the number of frame buffering set in the drivers. You should've scoped this out.

GlowStick
03-17-03, 08:27 PM
Wow, what ps2 game was it!

dont tell me Knight Rider hehe.

smurgle
03-17-03, 09:29 PM
cvearl,

Your "slight stuttering problem" with ut2k3 could be tied to your refresh rate/vsync. If you have vsync on, and your refresh rate is 75/85 the FPS could be varying above/below that rate which seems like "stuttering", which you may not have seen on your GF4 because it never got as high as your refresh rate, say it is 85 the FPS would be locked at 42.5 while the ATI could vary between 85 and 42.5. To avoid this, you could try setting your refresh to something lower like 60 and see what happens, or turn off vsync (personally i can't stand playing without vsync though).

Anyway, you may already know this, not that it matters if you switched back to GF4 already :)