AMD Radeon 6000 Series Image Quality Analysis

Conclusion

Both vendors degrade image quality at default driver settings, though the 6850 is the worst offender out of the three cards. Also both the 470 and 6850 showed a performance increase by using Q over HQ, though the 6850 was impacted the most overall. In contrast, the 5770 showed no performance change and the least image quality loss from using default driver settings.

With regards to filtering quality, the 6850 has reduced the hard transitions and dead zones compared to the 5770, but they’re still present. As for shimmering, the 6850 has a higher incidence of it on certain detailed textures during in-game movement. While angle invariance is theoretically an advantage for AMD, I couldn’t find any scenario where it offered a practical benefit over nVidia.

Image quality aficionados will recognize that nVidia’s AF still produces the smoothest and most uniform images overall. With that said, if you’re someone who never changes the driver control panel from its defaults, you probably won’t notice a difference between the two vendors. And to be perfectly fair, occurrences of practical differences tend to be rare anyway.

As for MLAA, it has a very heavy performance hit while offering substantially inferior image quality compared to traditional AA modes. I’d only use it where no other AA works, and even then I’d think twice before putting up with all that blurring.

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  • El_Member

    After looking at those images for a long time my head hurts *dizzy*

  • ysondurr

    Great article.

    Although “Both vendors degrade image quality at default driver settings” may sound a bit missleading. Because AMD lowered default IQ historicaly speaking. I mean compared to previous drivers and previous cards.

  • BFG10K

    ysondurr, the comment referred to the fact that both vendors’ image quality increases when running HQ compared to their default settings.

  • kiss4luna

    excellent review
    i’m translating another article from Rage3D regarding the same subject – image quality comparision between AMD & NVIDIA’s latest graphics. i read both articles, they are both great but i still feel something lacks. besides the AA & AF and few zoomed game image comparision, i think it better to add more games to compare the overall image feeling. because there are a lot of arguments in my country stating that AMD provides much better image quality in both games and video-playback than nVidia. but for my personal experience i think nVidia graphics provide much more natural images. so i search the web and found Rage3D’s article last month and translating it. haven’t finished the translation due to recently increased payload in work. the AA & AF quality comparision would be a great proof to “who’s better”, but people will have another quesion. it seems that sometimes AMD offers a more colorful image while nVidia’s is a bit flat, is this a type of image quality issue? i read some reviews but they never regard this as an image quality issue. however people in my country think it as an image quality issue. what’s your opinion dear Mr. BFG10K?
    and finally, can i put this article in my translation works?
    thx

  • BFG10K

    kiss4luna,

    Though I’ve seen many such claims over the years, I’ve never seen any evidence of this so called “extra vibrance”, aside from nVidia’s old digital vibrance setting. In 3D gaming the colors have always looked identical to me with both vendors. I think it’s a placebo effect similar to how some individuals keep stating that each new driver is “smoother” and has “better IQ” than the old one when in reality nothing has changed.

    Feel free to translate the article but give full linkage and credit to ABT. We want the traffic coming here.

  • kiss4luna

    Thank you, BFG10K. You have my words ;)

  • Real Life

    What I find surprising is that you haven’t noticed that the 470 can’t render a circle!

  • BFG10K

    Real Life, the term for the circle is “angle invariance”, and I mention it several times in my article.

  • Jarrod

    I don’t recall AMD ever claiming MLAA to be faster than MSAA. I do recall them saying it offers performance that of edge detect aka CFAA.

    If you reviewed this with the thought that MLAA was intended to be an end all AA feature, then you have the wrong mind set and your conclusion is going to reflect that.

    In my finding thus far, it works brilliantly in games with half AA or no AA(differed render’s) AND with a limited color spectrum. High contrast color edges will give a nasty result like many of the games you tested.

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