Articles: Graphics
 

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Testbed and Methods

We used the games’ integrated benchmarks if possible. If the benchmark could produce the minimal fps rate besides the average one, we put it into the table of results and marked it in white. Games without built-in benchmarking tools were tested using the FRAPS utility and the minimal fps rates are also indicated in the diagrams.

We tested graphics cards with the PCI Express x16 interface on the following testbed:

  • AMD Athlon 64 4000+ CPU (2.40GHz, 1MB L2 cache)
  • ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe mainboard (NVIDIA nForce4 SLI chipset)
  • OCZ PC3200 Platinum EB DDR SDRAM (2x512MB, CL2.5-3-2-8)
  • Samsung SpinPoint SP1213C (Serial ATA-150, 8MB buffer)
  • Creative SoundBlaster Audigy 2 sound card
  • Cooler Master Real Power 450 power supply (RS-450-ACLY, 450W)
  • Dell P1130 and Dell P1110 monitors (21”, 1800x1440@75Hz max display mode)
  • Microsoft Windows XP Pro SP2 with DirectX 9.0c
  • NVIDIA ForceWare 77.72 and ATI Catalyst 5.7 drivers

Sticking to our standard testing procedure, we set up the drivers from ATI and NVIDIA in the following way:

NVIDIA ForceWare 77.72:

  • Image Settings: Quality
  • Vertical sync: Off
  • Trilinear optimization: On
  • Anisotropic mip filter optimization: Off
  • Anisotropic sample optimization: On
  • Gamma correct antialiasing: On (only for GeForce 7800 GTX)
  • Transparency antialiasing: Off (only for GeForce 7800 GTX)
  • Other settings: default

ATI CATALYST 5.7:

  • CATALYST A.I.: Standard
  • Mipmap Detail Level: Quality
  • Wait for vertical refresh: Always off
  • Other settings: default

We turn on full-screen antialiasing and anisotropic filtering from the game menu, if possible. Otherwise, we force the necessary mode from the driver. We do not edit the games’ configuration files. We select the highest graphics quality settings in each game, the same for graphics cards from ATI and NVIDIA, but choose the rendering mode depending on the capabilities of the graphics card. If a game supports Shader Model 3.0, we use this mode for NVIDIA solutions. ATI cards work in Shader Model 1.1/2.0/2.0b mode depending on the game.

We included 16 graphics cards with the PCI Express interface into this test session, including SLI configurations. Here’s a full list of the cards with links to their respective reviews:

Ultra High End

High End

Performance-Mainstream

Mainstream

Entry-Level (below $149)

  • GeForce 6600 (NV43, 300/500MHz, 8pp, 3vp, 128-bit, 128MB)
  • RADEON X700 (RV410, 400/700MHz, 8pp, 6vp, 128-bit, 256MB)
  • RADEON X600 XT (RV380, 500/730MHz, 4pp, 2vp, 128-bit, 128MB)
    for details see our review called ASUS Extreme AX600 XT/HTVD Graphics Card Review

The GeForce 6600 and the RADEON X700 graphics card models were emulated by down-clocking the GeForce 6600 GT and RADEON X700 PRO, respectively. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a RADEON X850 PRO for our tests, so we could not compare this 12-pipelined solution with the 16-pipelined RADEON X800 XL and GeForce 6800 GT.

It takes a while to prepare a truly comprehensive review, so we are a little behind the newest releases. We hadn’t time to test the recently announced ATI RADEON X800 GT and NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT for this review, even though the latter is present in some of the diagrams.

 
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