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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [10.07.04]
Manufactured by: ATI and Intel
Motherboards supplied by Gigabyte


3dMark 03

Despite what some people say, I still think 3dMark is a useful tool for judging video cards. Not that it should be the ONLY tool you use! But chances are if a video card gets a really low 3dMark score, something is not supported properly, and it's not going to serve you well in the real world.




For instance:

Even though the specs of the X300 and 915G are quite similar, the 3dMark 03 results were completely different. The 915G falls quite a way back. So where exactly does it fall behind? Intel does tout it as a DirectX 9 card after all! To find out, we have to look deeper into the results. Starting with the Game Tests:

First of all, we see that none of the cards have a problem handling the Wings of Fury test, as it is a DirectX 7 'game'. Battle of Proxycon and Troll's Lair use DX8 technologies however, and require hardware pixel shaders (but not v2.0). The 865G mercifully sits out of this test. The Mother Nature II test is DX9, and leaves out both the 865G and 9100 Pro IGP.

So far so good; the Intel GMA 900 is not blazingly fast, but it is able to perform DX9 tests, thanks to its software Vertex Shader emulation. But something kept the score down; let's dig a little deeper. Let's have a look at shader performance:

And here is where the GMA 900 falls back. The software vertex shader is falling behind even the 9100 Pro IGP, which says something right there. And PS 2.0 support is technically there, but sorely lacking in performance - it's making the ultra-budget DX9 RX300 look good in comparison!

So Intel can call the GMA 900 a DX9 card all they want, but we know better. It barely holds up to 3DMark 03's scrutiny.

In the end, when new games come out that make use of these fancy DX9 features, the GMA 900 will only get slower and slower. You won't be able to enable any of the features, and you don't have much of a DX9 card at all.

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