Half-Life 2 is a representative of the new generation of computer games which declare strict requirements to the graphics subsystem as well as to the central processor. We used two scenes for our tests, one of which abounds in pixel shaders and puts but a small load on the CPU, but the other is simple in graphics, yet has many AI-controlled objects. You frequently meet scenes of both types throughout the game.
The Canals maps which Gordon Freeman has to traverse in a speed-boat are all about water and this water is rendered with the help of computations-heavy pixel shaders. That’s the reason for the ATI cards to be so quick – they just execute such shaders faster than their competitors do!
You shouldn’t wonder at the results of the GeForce FX – these graphics cards use the DirectX 8.1 rendering path where many special effects are missing or simplified.
Nothing extraordinary happens in the “eye candy” mode – the frame rates just go down a little. ATI’s RADEONs are still victorious.
The SLI technology works excellently in Half-Life 2, nearly doubling the performance in high resolutions of the “eye candy” mode. A system with two GeForce 6800 Ultra would run this game smoothly with enabled FSAA and anisotropic filtering even in 1600x1200!