Articles: Graphics

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Benchmarking Performance: Medium Quality Mode

We will first examine the speed of (performance-)mainstream graphics cards, as there are more users of such products than of top-end solutions like the GeForce Ultra/GT or RADEON X800 XT/Pro. We tested such cards in the Medium Quality mode since they all had 128MB of memory (except the RADEON 9800 XT and the 9800 PRO), and this quality mode is intended exactly for that amount of memory.

We had the following graphics cards for the Medium Quality mode:

  • GeForce 6800
  • GeForce FX 5950 Ultra
  • GeForce 5900
  • GeForce 5900 XT
  • GeForce FX 5700 Ultra
  • GeForce FX 5600 Ultra
  • RADEON 9800 XT
  • RADEON 9800 PRO
  • RADEON 9600 XT
  • RADEON 9600 PRO

We had also planned to add a Volari Duo V8 Ultra from XGI and a DeltaChrome S8 Nitro from S3 Graphics, but found that these graphics cards could not run Doom 3 correctly even with the freshest drivers. Here are a couple of screens to prove our point:

Volari Duo V8 Ultra from XGI


DeltaChrome S8 Nitro from S3


The image quality is awful with both Volari and DeltaChrome. It is evident that the OpenGL drivers from XGI and S3 graphics are no good at all. Well, between the two, the DeltaChrome is somewhat better. Besides the nasty image, the Volari Due V8 Ultra delivered a very poor performance, below one frame per second. Well, it was slow even in the game menu!

We hope the programming folk from S3 Graphics will do something about that, and the game will be running correctly on DeltaChromes. We have no such hopes about XGI, however, as their product was originally full of major defects and underdevelopments. Even if they correct the problems with the image quality, the low performance of the Volari architecture at large won’t become any better.

Mainstream graphics cards can hardly deliver a playable fps rate with full-screen antialiasing enabled, so we limited ourselves to anisotropic filtering of the maximum level. We benchmarked the cards in three standard resolutions in the pure speed mode, save for the 4-pipelined RADEON 9600 XT/PRO and GeForce FX 5700/5600 Ultra and the 8-pipelined RADEON 9500 PRO, for which we didn’t use 1600x1200 resolution.

For these cards, we only used 1024x768 resolution with anisotropic filtering enabled, while the faster models were benchmarked in higher resolutions. In 1600x1200, we checked out the fastest cards we had included into this review: the GeForce 6800, GeForce FX 5950 Ultra and RADEON 9800 XT.

CPU Level

This map is geometrically complex; it also has numerous shadows.

The GeForce 6800 is beyond competition – about twice the speed of the closest rival! The GeForce FX 5950 Ultra quite naturally takes the second position since it can process shadows quickly – and Doom 3 simply abounds in shadows. The GeForce FX 5900, which differs from the 5950 Ultra in frequencies only, occupied the third place. The RADEON 9800 XT can match it, but theoretically, it can do more – it is hamstringed by the obsolete OpenGL driver.

In the sector of 4-pipelined GPUs, NVIDIA’s superiority is less overwhelming, although the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra outperforms the RADEON 9600 XT. Surprisingly, the results of the latter differ but slightly from the GeForce FX 5600 Ultra, which has worse ALUs and a lower geometry-processing speed. The eight rendering pipelines allow the RADEON 9500 PRO to do like the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra.

Nothing extraordinary happens as we turn on anisotropic filtering. The GeForce 6800 remains in the lead. The RADEON 9800 XT has stepped up to the level of the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra, though.

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