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Performance in Gaming Benchmarks: Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness

Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness is a thorn in NVIDIA’s side, since GeForce FX GPUs run this game with less brilliance than ATI’s solutions. The game uses actively quite “hard” DirectX 9 pixel shaders. However, the results may greatly vary depending on the scene you use to benchmark graphics cards. Sometimes GeForce FX chips may suffer a total defeat, and sometimes they may win over graphics cards on R3xx VPUs. That’s why I usually test graphics cards in Tomb Raider using two scenes: “harder” paris5_4 and “easier” paris2_3.

The graphics quality settings in the game were default for the “PS 2.0” mode with one exception – I disabled “Pixel Shader 2.0 Shadows”.

The harder scene, paris5_4, comes first:

Besides calculating the Depth of Field effect (“blurring” objects that don’t fit into the camera’s focus), the graphics card has to render the effect of light refraction in the jets of hot air and in liquid. Both effects are implemented though DirectX 9 pixel shaders.

EVGA e-GeForce FX 5950 Ultra cannot be proud of the results as it loses to PowerColor RADEON 9800 XT in every mode. Anisotropic filtering and texturing speed are no decisive factors in this test, so we have little benefit from switching between “quality” and “fast” AF. Even extreme overclocking cannot make up for the lower pixel shader processing speed and pull the GeForce FX up to the level of the RADEON.

The other scene, paris2_3, has fewer pixel shaders:

This scene seems to be using only the Depth of Field effect:

That’s what I was talking about: EVGA e-GeForce FX 5950 Ultra handles the “easier” scene faster than PowerColor RADEON 9800 XT, making the gap even wider during extreme overclocking. Switching from “quality” to “speed” anisotropic filtering brings but a slight performance advantage: DirectX 9 pixel shaders processing speed is the most important thing in this game.

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