The scene we recorded on the Research level depends less on the CPU speed, but it is geometrically complex and has many light sources processed on the per-pixel basis, which makes it a good tool for measuring the performance of modern graphics cards.
The GeForce 6800 and the RADEON X800 both use the most optimal rendering paths, enabling Shader Model 3.0 and 2.0b, respectively, but ATI’s devices still have a 10-percent advantage over their corresponding rivals from the GeForce 6800 family. Note that the number of pixel pipelines plays an important role in 1600x1200: the 12-pipelined solutions manage this scene much worse than their 16-pipelined mates do.
Victory comes to the GeForce 6600 GT AGP in the mainstream class as it can process long shaders in the Shader Model 3.0 mode, while the RADEON 9800 XT cannot.
The RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition is unrivalled among PCI Express x16 cards; the new R430-based card (RADEON X800 XL) looks well against the GeForce 6800 GT, too.
We turn on 4x full-screen anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering to see the 12-pipelined versions of the RADEON X800 and GeForce 6800 fall behind even farther, as the load on the pixel processors becomes too high. It’s overall more favorable for NVIDIA here as the GeForce 6800 Ultra is quite successfully contending with the RADEON X800 XT, although the RADEON X800 XT Platinum Edition is still out of reach. The GeForce 6600 GT AGP again showcases the benefits of its new architecture, outperforming the RADEON 9800 XT by about 10 percent; its version for PCI Express is even more aggressive – up to 20 percent faster than the RADEON X700 XT in low resolutions, but less in higher ones.
The SLI platform works well on this level, but we can’t talk about a 60-80-percent performance gain. The gain is about 20 percent at best. Mark also the minimal frame rates – they are often lower with the SLI than with a single card, which indicates that NVIDIA’s technology is yet badly suited for Far Cry. Also, like Unreal Tournament 2004, Far Cry would sometimes hang up on the SLI platform.