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Testbed and Methods

During our comparative testing of the GeForce 8800 GTX graphics cards we used the following hardware platforms:

  • AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 CPU (2x2.60GHz, 2x1MB L2)
  • ABIT AN8 32X mainboard (nForce4 SLI X16) for Nvidia GeForce cards
  • ASUS A8R32-MVP Deluxe mainboard (ATI CrossFire Xpress 3200) for ATI Radeon cards
  • OCZ PC-3200 Platinum EL DDR SDRAM (2x1GB, CL2-3-2-5)
  • Maxtor MaXLine III 7B250S0 (Serial ATA-150, 16MB buffer)
  • Creative SoundBlaster Audigy 2 sound card
  • Enermax Liberty 620W power supply (ELT620AWT)
  • Dell 3007WFP monitor (30”, 2560x1600 max display resolution)
  • Microsoft Windows XP Pro SP2, DirectX 9.0c
  • ATI Catalyst 7.2
  • Nvidia ForceWare 97.92

Since we believe that the use of tri-linear and anisotropic filtering optimizations is not justified in this case, the graphics card drivers were set up in standard way to provide the highest possible quality of texture filtering.

ATI Catalyst:

  • Catalyst A.I.: Standard
  • Mipmap Detail Level: High Quality
  • Wait for vertical refresh: Always off
  • Adaptive antialiasing: Off
  • Temporal antialiasing: Off
  • High Quality AF: On
  • Other settings: by default

Nvidia ForceWare:

  • Texture Filtering: High quality
  • Vertical sync: Off
  • Trilinear optimization: Off
  • Anisotropic optimization: Off
  • Anisotropic sample optimization: Off
  • Gamma correct antialiasing: On
  • Transparency antialiasing: Off
  • Other settings: by default

We selected the highest possible graphics quality level in each game. We didn’t modify the games’ configuration files. Performance was measured with the games’ own tools or, if not available, manually with Fraps utility. We also measured the minimum speed of the cards where possible.

We tested the cards in three standard resolutions according to our testing methodology: 1280x1024, 1600x1200 and 1920x1200. One of the goals during this test session was to evaluate the effect of the amount of GeForce 8800 GTS graphics memory on the performance. Besides, the technical specifications and cost of both graphics adapter modifications allow us to expect pretty high performance in contemporary games with enabled FSAA 4x. Therefore, “eye candy” mode was enabled everywhere, where it was possible.

We enabled FSAA 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. We ran the tests with disabled FSAA only for those games that do not support FSAA due to the specifics of their engine or use FP HDR. The thing is that the GeForce 7 family cannot perform FSAA together with floating-point HDR.

Since our goal was to compare the performance of two graphics cards that only differed from one another by the amount of onboard memory, MSI NX8800GTS-T2D640E-HD-OC was tested twice: at its default frequencies and at clock frequencies reduced to the level of the reference Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS - 513/1188/800 (1600) MHz.

Besides the MSI graphics card our today’s test session also included the reference Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB and the following other testing participants:

For our tests we used the following games and benchmarks:

First-Person 3D Shooters

  • Battlefield 2142
  • Call of Juarez
  • Far Cry
  • F.E.A.R. Extraction Point
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
  • Half-Life 2: Episode One
  • Prey
  • Serious Sam 2
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl

Third-Person 3D Shooters:

  • Hitman: Blood Money
  • Tomb Raider: Legend

RPG

  • Gothic 3
  • Neverwinter Nights 2
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Simulators:

  • X3: Reunion

Strategies:

  • Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars
  • Company of Heroes
  • Supreme Commander

Synthetic Benchmarks:

  • Futuremark 3DMark05
  • Futuremark 3DMark06
 
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