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Testbed and Methods

We used our traditional testbed that we have been using for some time now, the only difference is that now we use a new mainboard based on NVIDIA nForce4 SLI 16x core-logic:

  • AMD Athlon 64 4000+ CPU (2.40GHz, 1MB L2 cache)
  • ASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe mainboard (NVIDIA nForce4 SLI 16x chipset)
  • OCZ PC3200 Platinum EL DDR SDRAM (2 x 1GB, CL2-3-2-5)
  • Samsung SpinPoint SP1213C (Serial ATA-150, 8MB buffer)
  • Creative SoundBlaster Audigy 2 sound card
  • Cooler Master Real Power 450 power supply (RS-450-ACLY, 450W)
  • Dell P1130 and Dell P1110 monitors (21”, 1800x1440@75Hz max display mode)
  • Microsoft Windows XP Pro SP2 with DirectX 9.0c
  • ATI Catalyst 5.12
  • NVIDIA ForceWare 81.89

We set up the ATI and NVIDIA drivers in the following way:

ATI CATALYST 5.12:

  • 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 81.89 (please bear in mind that according to NVIDIA the 81.89 driver only differs from WHQL-passed 81.85 driver with a new .inf file):

  • Image Settings: Quality
  • Vertical sync: Off
  • Trilinear optimization: On
  • Anisotropic mip filter optimization: Off
  • Anisotropic sample optimization: On
  • Gamma correct antialiasing: On (for GeForce 7 only)
  • Transparency antialiasing: Off (for GeForce 7 only)
  • Other settings: default

We select the highest graphics quality settings in each game, identical for graphics cards from ATI and NVIDIA. If possible, we use the games’ integrated benchmarking tools (to record and reproduce a demo and then measure the reproduction speed in frames per second). Otherwise we measure the frame rate with the FRAPS utility. If it is possible, we measure minimal as well as average fps rates to give you a fuller picture.

We turn on 4x full-screen antialiasing and 16x anisotropic filtering in the “eye candy” test mode from the game’s own menu if possible. Otherwise we force the necessary mode from the driver. We don’t test the “eye candy” mode if the game engine doesn’t support FSAA.

We have tested the following graphics cards.

High-End:

  • ATI RADEON X1800 XT
  • ATI RADEON X1800 XL
  • ATI RADEON X850 XT PE
  • NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX 512
  • NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX
  • NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT

Performance-Mainstream:

  • ATI RADEON X800 XL
  • ATI RADEON X800 GTO
  • ATI RADEON X1600 XT
  • NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT
  • NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GS
  • NVIDIA GeForce 6800

Mainstream and Entry-Level:

  • ATI RADEON X800 GT
  • ATI RADEON X700 PRO
  • ATI RADEON X700
  • ATI RADEON X1300 PRO
  • NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT
  • NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GDDR2
  • NVIDIA GeForce 6600

The following games were used:

  • Age of Empires 3
  • Battlefield 2
  • Call of Duty 2
  • F.E.A.R.
  • Quake 4
  • Serious Sam 2
  • Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
 
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