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Testbed and Methods

Our testbeds were based on the following mainboards:

  • ASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe mainboard (Nvidia nForce4 SLI X16 chipset, nForce SPP 100 + nForce4 SLI) for Nvidia GeForce graphics cards
  • ASUS A8R32-MVP Deluxe mainboard (CrossFire Xpress 3200 chipset, ATI RD580 + ULi M1575) for ATI Radeon graphics cards

We rest of the testbed components were the following:

  • AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 CPU (2.60GHz, 2x1MB L2 cache)
  • OCZ PC3200 Platinum EL DDR SDRAM (2 x 1GB, CL2-3-2-5)
  • Samsung SpinPoint SP1213C HDD (Serial ATA-150, 8MB buffer) and 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

We used the following drivers:

  • ATI Catalyst 6.3
  • Nvidia ForceWare 84.21

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. 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. Besides the standard eye candy mode (FSAA 4x + AF 16x) we also used a few resource-hungry modes such as Super AA/SLI AA 8x + AF 16x and Super AA 14x/SLI AA 16x + AF 16x. We enabled FSAA 4x + AF 16x from the game if possible. Otherwise we forced the necessary mode from the ATI Catalyst and Nvidia ForceWare graphics card driver.

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

Besides ASUS EN7800 GT Top Silent, we have also included the following graphics cards:

These games and applications were used as benchmarks:

First-Person 3D Shooters

  • Battlefield 2
  • The Chronicles of Riddick
  • Call of Duty 2
  • Doom III
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
  • Far Cry
  • F.E.A.R.
  • Half-Life 2
  • Half-Life 2: Lost Coast
  • Project Snowblind
  • Quake 4
  • Serious Sam 2

Third-Person 3D Shooters

  • Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

Simulators

  • Pacific Fighters
  • X3: Reunion

Strategies

  • 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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