ATI Radeon 9x00 series tweak guide



Direct3D Settings

Mipmap Detail Level. This slider controls the LOD parameter used for textures, whereby moving the position of the slider can increase the sharpness of Mipmapped textures or vice versa. Options available for this setting are High Performance, Performance, Quality, High Quality. As the settings indicate, each mode offers progressively sharper or more blurred textures, which will yield improved image quality or frame rate respectively. The images beneath illustrate the effect of High Performance & High Quality setting in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault.

High Performance

High Quality

The image quality differences are fairly distinct as can be clearly seen, certainly when using FSAA select High Quality to counter the slight blurring that can occur with FSAA enabled.

Support 32Bit Z-Buffer. Ticking this option enables the use of a 32-Bit Z-buffer depth where specifically requested by an application. When Unticked the Z-Buffer depth will be determined as normal, i.e. 24-Bit for 32-Bit colour depth & 16-Bit for 16-Bit colour depth. The use of a 32-Bit Z-Buffer provides greatest Z-Buffer precision for performing depth calculations & will minimize rendering errors as a result - even more so than 24-Bit does. Performance is however be further reduced as compared with a 24-Bit Z-Buffer depth.

Table Fog. Ticking this option will enable the Graphics card to emulate fog table support, which is only required for applications which fail to correctly query the hardware for vertex fog or table fog support. Apparently 1 such afflicted titled was Shadows of the Empire. If nostalgic gaming isnt your thing you can leave this Unticked without issue.

TCL Back Face Culling. Back face culling is a process for removing polygons not facing the viewer (i.e., You). When Ticked this can provide improved performance as unseen polygons need not be rendered. You should only Untick this option if you experience display artefacts as a result.

TCL Hardware. Leave this Ticked.

Texture Preference. Unfortunately since posting this guide initially Ive still been unable to find out exactly what this option does (As before neither FIC responded nor anyone at Rage3D's Forums). Then again, I cannot see any difference in image/performance in the latest build3D Mark 2003 either (With High Quality V High Performance only yielding a 3 point difference). As such the only recommendation I can give is to set this to High Quality & adjust texture detail settings via in-game options.

TRUFORM. TRUFORM provides support for Higher Order Surfaces (via N-Patch tessellation & with newer ATI Radeons Displacement Mapping as well) which in supported applications yields more complex appearing shapes with not too noticeable a performance hit. When set to App. Preference this enables Direct3D applications to use supported TRUFORM features of the Radeon Graphics card as appropriate, this is the recommended choice as most supporting applications allow you to set which TRUFORM features are to be used (If they are supported at all). Selecting Always Off disables OpenGL/Direct3D applications from using TRUFORM features, which would be recommended for ensuring optimal performance instead (Though, again, most supporting applications will allow you to enable/disable TRUFROM features anyway).

Vertex Blend Opt. Vertex blending is a technique, introduced in DirectX 7, that can be used to smooth out joints in objects particularly useful for animated character models. Ticking this setting will optimize the rendering performance of vertex buffers, & it is recommended that you do so for optimal performance.

VertexBlendUseProjMat. Ticking this option enables vertex blending to use projection matrices. Though Im not particularly aware of Direct3D applications that currently support this, there should be no harm having it enabled.

Volume Textures. Unlike standard 2D textures, volume textures (Introduced in DirectX 8) have depth to them, i.e. 3D textures. This can be used for producing more realistic appearing fog, explosions, etc. than 2D textures can. Ticking this setting will enable support for such 3D textures in the Radeon Drivers, which is recommended for improved visual quality where used in supporting applications. Unticking this will disable this feature, which might improve performance in certain areas of some titles, possibly useful for those of you with much older/lower end Radeon Graphics cards or comparatively very slow CPUs.

Wait for VSync. V-sync limits the highest possible frame rate to your Monitors refresh rate at any resolution. Setting this to App. Pref. will allow the Application/Game to determine whether V-sync is to be enabled or disabled (Defaulting to it being on in most instances). Setting this to Always Off will disable V-sync in all Direct3D Games/Applications, which can improve performance (Frames are rendered as fast as they can be regardless of refresh rate), although you may experience image tearing &/or input device/controller lag as a result. Setting this to Always On will enable V-sync & should provide best image quality (As there should be no visible tearing associated with it being disabled) & no controller lag should occur either, though the maximum frame rate will be limited as described earlier. Id recommend leaving this set to Always On for best visual quality as a result unless you intend to benchmark Game performance. The OpenGL section illustrates the effect of TRUFORM in a game.

Z Compression. The Z-Buffer contains depth information for every pixel to be rendered. Thus, using higher resolutions not only consumes more fill rate, it also requires a larger Z-Buffer as more pixels are to be rendered. Hyper Z III however supports compression of the Z-Buffer, which reduces the size of this data & therefore will save on bandwidth needed for Z-Buffer reads/writes. With FSAA enabled colour compression is also supported. As such this compression helps makes the Radeon a highly efficient card when rendering with FSAA (particular with FSAA enabled) & ATI claims that at best it offers at 24:1 compression ratio using 6X FSAA (4:1 with FSAA disabled). Perhaps most critically Z Compression is lossless when set to Driver Default & there should be no adverse effect on image quality as a result. Personally Id not recommend selecting any of the other available options except for experimental purposes, perhaps.

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