Some video card questions!


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Sep 10, 2003
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Looking at the options on my ATI Radeon 9700 non-pro, I am a bit baffled to be honest. Hope someone or two can help! :smashin:

Firstly what is truform and why is it switched off?
What is smartshader effects and why are they off?
What is vertical sync?
What is the difference between open Gl and direct3d?
Why are Anisotropic filtering and anti-aliasing set to application preference?
What is AGP speed and why is it set to 8x?
What is fastwrite and why is that set to off?

I think that's it!:eek:

Cheers for any help in advance from anyone with even an inkling! :smashin:
Blah ignore all that crap.

All you need to know is how fast it will run your games and in what quality....

hence go to and look at VGA charts Pt 3

Starting with Unreal Tournament 2003.

Truform is ATi rendering software.
Smartshader is the same.
Vertical synch is to do with interlacing and refresh or something like that.... someone correct me on this one :p
OpenGL is a 3D graphics API that is open source. This means that many develop on it because it can be customised and is free to use.
Direct3D is the MS 3D graphics API. Many use it because it is already part of windows and easy to use.
FSAA ( shortened version of you anistropic blah blah) - This is set so if the game has the option you can use it. If you put it to on it automatically forces the card to display everything in FSAA this can have some side effects on 2D display and also may cause performance problems in some games.
AGP speed is the speed of data transfer, it is like CD-ROMs, you get 52x CD-ROM that is 52 times faster than a single speed. *x AGP is 8 times faster at data transfer (between GPU and CPU) than a normal single speed AGP. Some motherboards won't accept 8x cards and some newer boards don't accept older cards.
Fastwrite is just a way of writing to and from the card memory, it is not really useful.
There's also a manual on ATI's site (assuming you haven't already seen it) - 9700 Manual. I've only looked through it briefly, but it might answer some of your questions.

Apologies in advance if this is the same manual you already have.
Truform is a Legacy feature that is not used on the current
R300 cards. Its primary use was on an older Radeon card, forget about it.

Smartshader is a bit of a gimmic but it is important as it is a step towards the future of user programmable shaders.

Vertical sync is an option to sync softwares maximum frames per second to your monitor refresh rate.

The reasion for this is that if you do not have Vertical sync then you monitor is running at its refresh rate (85hz as an example) and you software in running as fast as it can (between 30 and 300 FPS+) as the screen is drawn the frames are out of syncronisation above 85 hz you see "Tearing lines" when looking about or moving.

You benchmark with VSYNC = OFF to get a proper unlimited benchmark result.

You play games with VSYNC = ON so you get proper evenly drawn screens.

Antialiasing elimitates crawlies, jaggies and twinklies. These are side effects of drawing lines and objects on a pixel raster device.

Anistropic filtering is quite complex, I do not really want to write the full essay about texture filtering types e.g. Nearest, Bi-linear, Tri-linear, Bri-linear and Anistropic.

Anistropic filtering is basicly more texture samples done in a clever way so you can use various texture stanges in a game engine and make it so that textures are can be clear right into the distance.

Antialiasing and Anistropic filterter are set to application preferance because developers can (if they wish) to write AA/AF support into their game/application.

The extra settings are for older software, us as users can try and force full AA/AF, it does not always work some game engines use features that you can't Antialias.

AGP speed is the speed in which data can be fed acorss the AGP bus to the graphics card, there is not much difference in performance between AGPx4 and AGPx8.

Fast Writes improves writes from the CPU to the graphics chip.

Fast Writes enables the CPU to send data directly to the graphics bus without going through the system memory. This benefits overall system performance in two ways:

*Removes the bottleneck previously that exists in systems without Fast Writes.

* Frees up system memory bus to perform other functions and increase system efficiency.

To use fast writes you require a motherboard and graphics card which supports Fastwires and you require the AGP fastwrite option to be enabled in the BIOS.

All our computers here use fastwrites with no problems, some poeple however do have problems enabling fast writes.
Cheers for the info. So do you think it's worth enabling the fastwrite then?
Cheers for the info. So do you think it's worth enabling the fastwrite then? Will it affect games?
on an ATI card it *should* be fine. It's on on my r9500np and i can't say it's ever caused any problems.

Take everything Tom's hardware says with a pince of salt - they aren't always accurate.

Always ask any questions you have - we all had to ask them at some point, and we all should try to answer them aswell.
I've enabled fastwrite in the bios, however I haven't noticed any difference!

Should I? I have an athalon 2700+ with 512mb 3100 ram
To test to see if fast writes are properly on.

Click Start

Click run...

Type smartgart

Press Enter and the Advanced smartgart tab will load up.

You can then see if Fast Writes have been enabled.

In the end it may not give massive performance increases but really depends of the software.

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