The GeForce 7600 GT takes a deserved first in this test. Even the original Half-Life 2 was remarkable for its nice-looking high-resolution textures and showed a preference for graphics cards with high texturing speed. No wonder the Radeon X1600 XT cannot stand the competition here: its 4 TMUs don’t cope and become a bottleneck that keeps this otherwise well-made solution back, behind the GeForce 7600 GS with its much lower GPU and memory clock rates.
It’s only in 1600x1200 resolution of the “eye candy” mode that the Radeon X1600 XT is competitive against the GeForce 7600 GS, but this is of no real use for gamers, the average speed being a mere 20fps.
So, there is only one rather inexpensive graphics card that is capable of running Half-Life 2: Episode One at a comfortable speed. It is the GeForce 7600 GT model. You can even try to enable 4x full-screen antialiasing on it. In either case (with or without FSAA) the resolution of 1600x1200 is unplayable, not to mention 1920x1200. These are for top-end graphics cards only. The rest of the products in the mainstream/entry-level category can’t cope with this game if you use resolutions above 1024x768 along with the maximum graphics quality settings. After all, this is not the original Half-Life 2 that used to have quite moderate system requirements.