Do AMD's Radeon HD 7000s Trade Image Quality For Performance?

Three Different Catalyst A.I. Settings

There's another variable to test: the Catalyst Control Center’s texture filtering quality setting, part of the Catalyst A.I. slider.

We tested the Radeon HD 7870 and Radeon HD 6970 using all three Catalyst A.I. settings exposed in the driver panel: Performance, Quality (the default setting), and High Quality.

Very interestingly, the Radeon HD 7870's output improves a lot at the High Quality setting, approaching a texture detail level close to the Radeon HD 6000 series at its default Quality setting. Also, the Radeon HD 6970's texture quality at its Performance setting drops close to what the Radeon HD 7870 looks like by default, but doesn’t change that much between Quality and High Quality.

Now we know the texture filtering quality setting gives us some control over AMD's problem. It's good that the Radeon HD 7000s can be made to look better through altered driver settings, though it's disturbing that the latest cards require tweaks in order to achieve the image quality of previous-generation cards. Naturally, we're inclined to question the performance impact of bumping the Catalyst A.I. setting to High Quality, and that's what we'll test next.

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  • Anonymous
    What a pointless article. Title reads "Do AMD's Radeon HD 7000s Trade Image Quality For Performance?".
    Answer: No, because the new driver fixes the problems while keeping the performance.
    But at least it wasn't as bad as the piece that biased Angelini wrote, sending the 7900 series on vacation.
  • aicom
    Yes it's a slightly sensationalist title but it's certainly not the worst nor even misleading. It draws the reader into the article while describing what it will cover. The 7900 vacation joke (yes it's a joke), was word play on Tahiti (a Southern Islands GPU). I found it worth a chuckle. Before you accuse me of being an nVidia fan, I purchased a Radeon HD 7870 2 weeks ago and I love it.
  • Herr_Koos
    I found it fascinating reading. Regardless of your opinion on the article, the outcome of the tests will benefit all HD7-series users. Kudos to Toms for that.
  • ashiataka
    Perhaps the reason people don't care so much is that in order to see the problem, you have to zoom in to 200% and then be looking for it, even then it's difficult to spot. As for what the developer wants you to see, he wants you to be seeing 60 of those pictures a second.
  • guyladouche
    I concur with John-117, the article title and following findings entirely detract from this writer's and TH's general reputation and impact. A sensationalist title does not always get you respect for your work--especially when the actual answer after your study contradicts what you are implying from a loaded question.

    What if I wrote a headline that says, "Does TH employ monkeys to write their articles and child slavery to conduct their benchmarks? UH OH!" what would you infer? Maybe at least a small amount of likelihood that there's at least evidence of that? o.O

    If you have to zoom in on an image to the point where the textures are so pixelated to show a difference, what's the point? As stated above, in an action scene you won't notice a thing, especially compounded by the use of post-processing things like motion blur. And since there's no performance difference after the fix, you pretty much set yourself up for a useless discussion and an empty hypothesis.
  • HEXiT
    i have had issues with my amd card and they stem much further than the 7800 cards. for a long time now i haven't been able to implement AA on some titles unless i call it ut3.exe on my 5800. this was meant to be fixed on the second release of the driver and here we are 15-20 or so drivers later and im still waiting.
    the fix to the above was supposed to be implemented back around the time starcraft 2 was out so yeah i thing the article has some valid points to make.
    i got my 5800 on the day it was released and was using it 2 days later. most of the time im happy with it. but when you see your card crumple pn the very things it was designed to handle you have to question amd's design... the whole point of amd not moving to combined shaders like nvidia was so that aa would cost near nothing performance wise and that was the big + for me to get a hd card. but then i find it only works on some games and games like skyrim which use fxaa as well as fsaa dont allow aa if you have hdr/bloom enabled... sort of defeats the purpose....
    you can have either smooth polys or well shaded polys. nah i would say the article although comes off a little bias raises some issues that have been plaguing ati for a while...
  • Anonymous
    Keepning companies on their toes stops them from getting sloppy with their products and software updates. I say good for AMD for rectifying the issue. Means they care about their products and consumers.