Articles: Graphics
 

Bookmark and Share

(55) 

Table of Contents

Pages: [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 ]

Testbeds and Methods

After a brief review of the last-year graphics market, we are now ready to taste that year’s vintage of graphics cards in practice. We had to use three platforms for our mega-roundup: two computers with an AMD Athlon 64 FX-53 processor (with AGP 8x and dual PCI Express graphics interfaces) and one with an Intel Pentium 4 560 (with a PCI Express x16 slot). Our choice was determined by the huge number of the tested graphics cards and the late availability of the full-fledged NVIDIA nForce4 SLI platform. Since the nForce4 SLI is yet fresh, we only used the mainboard on this chipset to test graphics cards in the SLI mode, so it would be logical to compare the results of the SLI platform with those of the AGP cards that also worked with an Athlon 64 FX-53.

So, here’s a full list of the hardware we used:

AGP platform:

  • AMD Athlon 64 4000+ CPU (2.40GHz, 1MB L2 cache);
  • ABIT KV8 Pro mainboard;
  • OCZ PC-3200 Platinum EB DDR SDRAM (2x512MB, CL2.5-3-2-8);
  • Samsung SpinPoint SP1213C HDD (Serial ATA-150, 8MB buffer);
  • Creative SoundBlaster Audigy 2 audio card.

PCI Express platform:

  • Intel Pentium 4 560 CPU (Socket 775, 3.60GHz, 1MB L2 cache);
  • Intel Desktop Board D925XCV;
  • Micron Technology PC2-4300 DDR2 SDRAM (533MHz, 2x512MB);
  • Samsung SpinPoint SP1213C HDD (Serial ATA-150, 8MB buffer);
  • Creative SoundBlaster Audigy 2 audio card.

NVIDIA SLI platform:

  • AMD Athlon 64 4000+ CPU (2.40GHz, 1MB L2 cache);
  • ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe mainboard;
  • OCZ PC-3200 Platinum EB DDR SDRAM (2x512MB, CL2.5-3-2-8);
  • Samsung SpinPoint SP1213C HDD (Serial ATA-150, 8MB buffer);
  • Creative SoundBlaster Audigy 2 audio card.

Software:

  • Microsoft Windows XP Pro SP2, DirectX 9.0c;
  • ATI CATALYST 4.12, ATI CATALYST 4.12 beta;
  • NVIDIA ForceWare 66.93.

AGP graphics cards:

PCI Express graphics cards:

We enabled ForceWare optimizations, save for the Anisotropic mip filter optimization, and used the Quality mode. With ATI’s Catalyst, we set the Catalyst A.I. option to “Standard”, and the Mipmap Detail Level option to “Quality”. We disabled the vertical synchronization (VSync) in both drivers. We turned on the full-screen anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering from the game’s own menu. If the game didn’t offer this option, we forced the necessary mode from the driver.

In all cases we only adjusted those settings which are accessible to any user; we didn’t change games’ configuration files, though it was possible in some cases, because an ordinary user is unlikely to be into editing various CFG or INI-files. The maximum graphics quality settings were selected in each game, the same for graphics cards on ATI’s and NVIDIA’s GPUs.

We enabled the Multi-GPU Rendering mode for the SLI platform, in which the SLI mode is enforced even for games which are not supported explicitly by the ForceWare driver. Thus we will see if NVIDIA’s technology works efficiently in such cases, if works at all. Unfortunately, the current BIOS of the A8N-SLI Deluxe mainboard is far from perfect – the system doesn’t work with graphics cards from ATI Technologies and hangs up from time to time in a number of games. We hope this will be amended in future BIOS updates or new revisions of this mainboard.

Here’s a list of games and benchmarks we made use of when writing this review:

First-Person 3D Shooters

  • Call of Duty: United Offensive
  • Doom III
  • Unreal Tournament 2004
  • Halo: Combat Evolved
  • Far Cry
  • Painkiller
  • Half-Life 2
  • Counter-Strike: Source
  • Shadow Ops: Red Mercury

Third-Person 3D Shooters

  • Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow
  • Prince of Persia: Sands of Time
  • Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne
  • Hitman: Contracts
  • Thief: Deadly Shadows
  • Deus Ex: Invisible War
  • Manhunt
  • Vampires the Masquerade: Bloodlines

Simulators

  • IL-2 Sturmovik: Aces in the Sky
  • Lock On: Modern Air Combat
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004
  • FlatOut
  • Colin McRae Rally 04

Strategy Games

  • Command & Conquer Generals: Zero Hour
  • Warhammer 40.000: Dawn of War
  • Perimeter
  • Rome: Total War

Semi-Synthetic Benchmarks

  • Final Fantasy XI Official Benchmark 3
  • AquaMark3

Synthetic Benchmarks

  • Futuremark 3DMark 03 Build 3.5.0
  • Futuremark 3DMark 05 Build 1.1.0
 
Pages: [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 ]

Discussion

Comments currently: 55
Discussion started: 02/16/05 04:28:52 PM
Latest comment: 08/25/06 10:59:51 AM

View comments

Add your Comment