Articles: Graphics

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Testbed and Methods

To investigate the performance of contemporary graphics accelerators in F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin we put together the following testbed:

  • Intel Core i7-965 Extreme Edition processor (3.2GHz, 6.4 GT/s QPI);  
  • Asus P6T Deluxe mainboard (Intel X58 chipset)
  • Corsair XMS3-12800C9 (3x2GB, 1333MHz, 9-9-9-24, 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 64-bit;
  • ATI Catalyst 9.2 for ATI Radeon HD
  • Nvidia GeForce 182.06 WHQL for Nvidia GeForce

The graphics card drivers were set up to provide the highest possible quality of texture filtering and to minimize the effect of software optimizations used by default. We enabled transparent texture antialiasing, and we used multisampling mode for Nvidia solutions, because ATI solutions do not support supersampling for this function. As a result, our ATI and Nvidia driver settings looked as follows:

ATI Catalyst:

  • Smoothvision HD: Anti-Aliasing: Use application settings/Box Filter
  • Catalyst A.I.: Standard
  • Mipmap Detail Level: High Quality
  • Wait for vertical refresh: Always Off
  • Enable Adaptive Anti-Aliasing: On/Quality
  • Other settings: default

Nvidia GeForce:

  • 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
  • Multi-display mixed-GPU acceleration: Multiple display performance mode
  • Set PhysX GPU acceleration: Enabled
  • Other settings: default

15 different graphics cards and multi-GPU systems participated in our today’s performance test session. They can be split in three categories according to their price:

Premium/High-End category:

  • ATI Radeon HD 4870 3-way CrossFire
  • ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2
  • ATI Radeon HD 4850 X2 
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 295
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 280 SLI
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 285

Performance-Mainstream category:

  • ATI Radeon HD 4870 1GB
  • ATI Radeon HD 4850
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 280
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 260 Core 216
  • Nvidia GeForce 9800 GTX+

Mainstream category:

  • ATI Radeon HD 4830
  • ATI Radeon HD 4670
  • Nvidia GeForce 9800 GT
  • Nvidia GeForce 9600 GT

Unfortunately, w can’t yet test an Nvidia Triple SLI configuration, because Asus P6T Deluxe mainboard that we use doesn’t allow to physically install three graphics accelerators with dual-slot cooling systems. Nvidia Quad SLI system was also left out, because we currently do not have a second GeForce GTX 295 at our disposal. As soon as we get the necessary hardware in, we are going to test the performance of the today’s most powerful multi-GPU gaming systems.

We ran the tests in all resolutions including 2560x1600 only for the Premium category. Performance-Mainstream was limited by 1920x1200. Mainstream solutions were tested in 1680x1050 maximum resolution.

F.E.A.R. 2 has extensive list of fine tuning options. This time we decided to work with four profiles, and the settings within them were grouped as follows:

The last profile is the most resource-hungry, but it provides the best image quality possible. So we used this exact profile for our graphics card performance tests. The test sequence included a 60-second run in the beginning of the game. Since the game has no built-in benchmarking tools, we used Fraps utility version 2.9.8 in the manual mode to record the average and minimal fps rate. To minimize the measuring error, we took the average result of three combined runs for further analysis.

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