It's been a long time since we overhauled the game collection we use for reviewing graphics cards. Since several new games have hit the market with new kinds of eye candy, we felt it was about time we replaced some of the old with a few of the latest hit games for the PC platform.
As a result, Thief 3, Colin McRae 2005 and Doom 3 will no longer be tested with upcoming graphics cards. Instead, we bring you F.E.A.R, Need For Speed : Most Wanted and Quake 4.
In order to compare any upcoming cards properly with the ones we've already reviewed, we reinstalled some of them on our main benchmarking system and ran the new benchmarks.
The cards we used are as follows:
||Extreme 6600 SLI
||7800 GTX TOP
|| 7800 GTX DVDC
||7800 GTX DVDC SLI
Our benchmarking system consists of the following components:
||AMD64 3500+ NewCastle (939 socket)
||Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe
||2x512MB Corsair XMS TWINX1024-3200XL Memory
||WD800JD 80GB 7200RPM
||Microsoft WindowsXP Pro SP2
Let's move on to the first game.
2. Need For Speed - Most Wanted
Wake up to the smell of burnt rubber as the thrill of illicit street racing permeates into the air.
Combining illicit street racing and tuner customization with the intensity of strategic police pursuit that surpasses any Hollywood-style chase scene, Need for Speed Most Wanted will be on every gamer's 'must-have' list this holiday season. Out-race rivals, evade cops and exploit hundreds of miles of open road as gamers make their way up the Blacklist.
To become the most wanted racer, players must build up their street cred and Rap Sheet with gripping, white knuckle, head-to-head races with the top drivers on the streets, as well as pull daring, evasive moves to out-run and out-fox the cops that patrol the open road. Players can manage their heat or utilize a number of strategic tactics to keep the cops off their tails as they leave their rivals behind to suck their exhaust fumes.
- Benchmark Settings
NFS Most Wanted does not include a default benchmark. To measure the card's performance, we've chosen to record the framerate at the start of a circuit race with end-game cars. The starting point tends to be one of the most graphically demanding sections because of the smoke created by spinning wheels added to the rest of the game's visual effects. If a card can pass this stage with an acceptable framerate, it is a guarantee that it will face no problems with the rest of the game.
The resolutions we used are 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200. We measured performance at the lowest and highest possible settings.
All cards performed satisfactorily without Anti-aliasing. Even the X600XT can still bring an average of 36 frames per second at 1024x768. Increasing the resolution any higher however, would seem to be a mistake as the frame rate drops below 25 fps and don't forget that all video settings are already set to the lowest level. For the remaining cards, although the framerate is bound by CPU power at around 70fps, we can still see the difference, especially with the lesser cards which drop the frame rate at the higher resolutions.
You'll notice the X600XT does not register (0 fps). This is because the option of enabling some details such as Anti-Aliasing was for some reason grayed out. Performance has really fallen with all cards and only the Aopen 7800GTX SLI and the overclocked 7800GTX from Asus deliver more than 35fps at the highest resolution.
You aren't a soldier. You are a weapon. A paramilitary force infiltrates a multi billion dollar aerospace compound taking hostages, but issuing no demands.
The government responds by sending in its best special operations teams, only to have them obliterated. Live footage of the massacre is cut short by an unexpected wave of destruction that leaves military leaders stunned and in disbelief.
First Encounter Assault Recon (F.E.A.R.) is one of the new-generation FPS. The graphics are really stunning, the plot behind the whole shooting successfully keeps it interesting and even the A.I. seems to work well.
F.E.A.R. offers a lot to the First Person Shooter world. The graphics are very clear with excellent textures, great new effects that will stress your graphics card and rag-doll physics that are waiting to be exploited as you progress through the game.
- Benchmark Settings
F.E.A.R. allows you test the video settings with a mini-benchmark involving a lot of weapon firing, explosions and several other effects. After the benchmark is run, you're presented with a screen showing your minimum, average and maximum framerates and also percentages of how often the framerate was below 25fps, between 25 and 40, and finally above 40. For presentation reasons, we're just sticking to the minimum and average framerates.
The resolutions we used are 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200. We measured performance with high and highest details.
Judging by the minimum framerate at the standard TFT resolution of 1280x1024, you realise immediately that gameplay was not a joy with the X600XT and the single N6600GT. However, teaming up two of the N6600GTs does the trick and the minimum fps rises to 24. Concerning the rest of the bundle, the 6800Ultra drops to 24fps at 1600x1200, while all the 7800's keep the minimum framerate above 30fps.
Highest settings really stress all the cards to their limits. It seems only the Aopen 7800GTX SLI can keep the framerate above 25 during the benchmark at 1280x1024. Even so, we see that the most powerful combination of currently available cards fails and drops below 25 at the highest resolution of 1600x1200.
4. Quake 4
In a desperate war for Earth's survival, against an unrelenting alien enemy, the only way to defeat them is to become one of them. Armed with advanced weaponry and vehicles and aided by an elite squad of marines, you take the battle to the heart of the Strogg home planet and become Earth's only hope for victory.
Quake 4 is a First Person Shooter developed by Ravensoft, based on the Doom 3 engine, and the graphics and gameplay certainly reflect that fact. For those who really hated the one-way corridors of Doom 3, new outdoor areas have been added to the game. The feeling however, still remains the same as these areas are quite small-scale, contrary to what other games have to offer.
- Benchmark Settings
As Quake 4 includes no default benchmark, we decided to go with another publicly available demo to measure performance. What we chose is a demo from HWSpirit, which involves a small outdoor scene followed by a long indoor combat. As preloading the stage once again failed miserably and the average framerate varied a lot, the second time we ran the demo, we ran it twice every time we restarted the game and measured only the second run.
The resolutions we used are 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200. We measured performance with and without Anti-aliasing.
You can see most cards performed fairly well, offering an average framerate above 35 under all resolutions. The one that stands out is the X600XT which represents the older generation mid-range cards.
Now enabling anti-aliasing begins the nightmare for the N6600GT cards. Even SLI doesn't help in this case. In fact, SLI brought out worse performance than running the game with one card. Maybe a driver update is needed from NVidia to set things straight. None of the 7800GT based cards faced any difficulty, rendering the benchmark and all managed to deliver a steady framerate above 50.
5. Final Words
That's all for now from us at CDRinfo. This quick review was intended to provide you with a reference point of results for benchmarks we will be using in future graphics cards reviews.
In other news, there are rumours that Futuremark will release soon another version in it's most popular 3DMark series, 3DMark06. If that's the case, we'll be back with more details and benchmark results.