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 Gaming Performance

Testbed and Methods

For our performance tests of ATI Radeon HD 4550 we used two test platforms. One of them was built for gaming tests and featured the following configuration:

  • Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 processor (3.0GHz, FSB 333MHz x 9);  
  • Asus P5Q Pro (Intel P45 Express chipset) for ATI Radeon HD graphics cards;
  • Asus P5N32-E SLI mainboard (Nvidia nForce 680i SLI chipset) for Nvidia GeForce graphics cards;
  • Corsair TWIN2X2048-8500C5 (2x1GB, 1066MHz, 5-5-5-15, 2T);
  • Maxtor MaXLine III 7B250S0 HDD (250GB, Serial ATA-150, 16MB buffer);
  • Enermax Galaxy DXX EGX1000EWL 1000W power supply;
  • Dell 3007WFP monitor (30", 2560x1600@60Hz max display resolution);
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit;
  • ATI Catalyst 8.11 for ATI Radeon HD, ATI Catalyst custom driver version for ATI Radeon HD 4550
  • Nvidia GeForce 180.48 WHQL for Nvidia GeForce

According to our testing methodology, the drivers were set up to provide the highest possible quality of texture filtering and to minimize the effect of software optimizations used by default by both: AMD/ATI and Nvidia. Also, to ensure maximum image quality, we enabled transparent texture filtering. As a result, our ATI and Nvidia driver settings looked as follows:

ATI Catalyst:

  • Catalyst A.I.: Standard
  • Mipmap Detail Level: High Quality
  • High Quality AF: On
  • Wait for vertical refresh: Always Off
  • Enable Adaptive Anti-Aliasing: On/Quality
  • Method: Multi-sampling
  • Temporal Anti-Aliasing: Off
  • Other settings: default

Nvidia ForceWare:

  • Texture filtering - Quality: High quality
  • Texture filtering - Trilinear optimization: Off
  • Texture filtering – Anisotropic sample optimization: Off
  • Vertical sync: Force off
  • Antialiasing - Gamma correction: On
  • Antialiasing - Transparency: Multisampling
  • Other settings: default

For our tests we used the following games and synthetic benchmarks:

First-Person 3D Shooters

  • Bioshock
  • Call of Juarez
  • Call of Duty 4
  • Crysis
  • Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
  • Half-Life 2: Episode Two
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky

Third-Person 3D Shooters

  • Dead Space
  • Tomb Raider: Legend

RPG

  • Hellgate: London
  • Mass Effect
  • Fallout 3
  • The Witcher: Enhanced Edition

Strategies

  • Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts
  • Spore
  • World in Conflict

Synthetic Benchmarks

  • Futuremark 3DMark06
  • Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

We selected the highest possible level of detail in each game using standard tools provided by the game itself from the gaming menu. The games configuration files weren’t modified manually in any way, because the user doesn’t have to know how to do it. The only exception was Enemy Territory: Quake Wars game where we disabled the built-in fps rate limitation locked at 30fps. Games supporting DirectX 10 were tested in this particular mode.

Since ATI Radeon HD 4550 belongs to the sub-$60 price range, we decided not to run any tests in resolutions over 1280x1024. Nevertheless, we enabled MSAA 4x antialiasing everywhere where it was possible, because it is no exotic function anymore and at the same time allows improving image quality significantly. We enabled antialiasing and anisotropic filtering from the game’s menu. If this was not possible, we forced them using the appropriate driver settings of ATI Catalyst and Nvidia ForceWare drivers. As we have already said, we didn’t modify the games configurations files.

Performance was measured with the games’ own tools and the original demos were recorded if possible. Otherwise, the performance was measured manually with Fraps utility version 2.9.1. In the latter case we ran the tests several times and took the average value for further analysis. We measured not only the average speed, but also the minimum speed where possible.

 
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