So consistency is King then? I suppose 2x SSAA looks better to you then than 6x gamma-correct MSAA? No? What about those cases where an alpha texture might come into the screen? Well, that's the lowest quality part of the image. Using your rather clearly stated logic ("Since the Radeon 9700's worst-case anisotropic is in the region of 4-degree aniso, I don't consider it much better than 4-degree aniso"), you would conclude then that gamma-correct 6x MSAA isn't that much better than no AA? Hell, let's make it 2x performance Smoothvision just to give it some equivalent AA, which isn't all that spiffy IMO.
I mean, hell, sure it's jaggy as can be, but at least it's consistent about it, right? And since it's worst part of the image is better than the 9700's worst part, then it must be the better implementation, correct?
Apples to oranges you say? Why? Because it's a silly argument in this case... but why not in the case of AF?
You know, you had a point back when the 8500 lost all AF on 45 degree rotations, and had only bilinear so the moving mip-map line was actually noticeable (though personally I've never noticed it, not being a flight simmer). Now that trilinear blends the mip-map lines, and there is AF there (and I've seen the screenshots at B3D too, and in the worst case it's just a hair worse than the GF4 is there), I just don't see the argument.
I know you like to stick to your guns, and I know this has always been your trumpet call (lowest part of image defines IQ of entire image... at least where AF is concerned), but perhaps you should do a bit of deep thinking about this. If the AA example doesn't illustrate why, then perhaps we can find another example.
Again, I've seen the SS's at B3D. The 22 degree rotations were nearly identical on the GF4 and 9700 (much less difference than between the 4x and 8x mode of the 9700... though perhaps not between the 4x and 8x of the GF4 as it doesn't seem to do a whole lot more in 8x mode). On the other hand, on non rotated surfaces the difference isn't nearly identical, but very obvious.
Perhaps you're just arguing that a change in IQ, from whatever to whatever, is what bothers you? Then, if the 9700 changed from 32x to 16x (hypothetically) you would still conclude a straight 8x AF is better IQ? What if it chaged from 16x to 15x (not a real possibility, but used for rhetorical value)... would it be worse by virtue of it still changing in IQ, or would it be a "small enough" change to pass your threshold? You can see what I'm getting at here. You've defined your IQ criteria as "lowest quality part of the image" which is obviously silly, or perhaps you are implicitly defining it as being "the most consistent," since you did mention that, without qualifying statements about the required level of consistency, restraints on minimum level of IQ even if consistency is maintained (since you can run with no AA and no AF and have perfect consistency).
It's absurd, plain and simple, but to each his own I suppose.
IMO, Mr. Derek Smart is a hypocrite: Only someone who is either (a) lying (b) ashamed of their products (c) just plain ashamed, would hestitate to give out some simple and straight forward information. - Derek Smart, Ph.D.