Articles: Graphics

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Testbed and Methods

We ran our tests in the following testbed:

  • AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 CPU (2x2.60GHz, 2x1MB L2 cache)
  • ASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe mainboard (Nvidia nForce4 SLI X16 chipset) for Nvidia GeForce graphics cards
  • ASUS A8R32-MVP Deluxe mainboard (ATI CrossFire Xpress 3200 chipset) for ATI Radeon graphics cards
  • OCZ PC3200 Platinum EL DDR SDRAM (2 x 1GB, CL2-3-2-5)
  • Maxtor MaXLine III 7B250S0 hard disk drive (Serial ATA-150, 16MB buffer)
  • Creative SoundBlaster Audigy 2 sound card
  • Enermax Liberty 620W power supply (ELT620AWT, 620W)
  • Dell P1130 and Dell P1110 monitors (21”, 1800x1440@75Hz max display mode)
  • Microsoft Windows XP Pro SP2 with DirectX 9.0c
  • ATI Catalyst 6.5
  • Nvidia ForceWare 84.21

We set up the ATI and Nvidia drivers in the same way as always:

ATI Catalyst:

  • Catalyst A.I.: Standard
  • Mipmap Detail Level: Quality
  • Wait for vertical refresh: Always off
  • Adaptive antialiasing: Off
  • Temporal antialiasing: Off
  • Quality AF: Off
  • Other settings: default

Nvidia ForceWare:

  • Image Settings: Quality
  • Vertical sync: Off
  • Trilinear optimization: On
  • Anisotropic mip filter optimization: Off
  • Anisotropic sample optimization: On
  • Gamma correct antialiasing: On
  • Transparency antialiasing: Off
  • Other settings: default

We selected the highest graphics quality settings in each game, identical for graphics cards from ATI and Nvidia, except for the Pacific Fighters flight simulator that requires vertex texturing for its Shader Model 3.0 rendering mode. Radeon X1000 doesn’t support this feature therefore we ran the game in Shader Model 2.0 in this case. We did not edit the configuration files of the games. We also didn’t use the driver profiles optimized for given games. To measure the performance we either used the integrated tools of the games we tested in, or if there were none available, resorted to FRAPS utility. If it was possible, we measured minimal performance as well.

To load the video subsystem to the full extent and to minimize the influence of the CPU speed on the performance results we didn’t test the systems in the “pure speed” mode. We only ran the tests in “eye candy” mode with full-screen anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering. The graphics subsystem potential is used in a more optimal manner in this case. Besides, the image quality is considerably higher than in those cases when no full-screen anti-aliasing and/or anisotropic filtering are enabled.

We enabled FSAA and AF from the game if possible. Otherwise we forced the necessary mode from the ATI Catalyst and Nvidia ForceWare graphics card driver. We didn’t include any results of the overclocked graphics cards, because we didn’t manage to raise the clock speeds high enough. We have also tested the following graphics cards besides the ASUS EAX1900XTX/2DHTV/512M:

I would like to stress specifically that today we are looking only at single-chip solutions, because the dual-chip GeForce 7950 GX2 doesn’t have any actual competitors from the pricing as well as the performance standpoint. Therefore, if you would like to squeeze the maximum performance from a single graphics card, then you should check out our article called Two for One: Nvidia's Dual-Chip GeForce 7950 GX2 Reviewed, because this solution is quite far ahead of Radeon X1900 XTX with few exceptions, while its price is about $100-$200 higher.

These games and applications were used as benchmarks:

First-Person 3D Shooters

  • Battlefield 2
  • Chronicles of Riddick
  • Call of Duty 2
  • Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
  • Far Cry
  • F.E.A.R.
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
  • Half-Life 2
  • Half-Life 2: Episode One
  • Prey demo
  • Quake 4
  • Serious Sam 2

Third-Person 3D Shooters

  • Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory


  • Pacific Fighters
  • X3: Reunion


  • Age of Empires 3
  • Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War

Synthetic benchmarks

  • Futuremark 3DMark05 build 1.2.0
  • Futuremark 3DMark06 build 1.0.2
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