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Gaming Tests

The tested the sharpness of NVIDIA’s new weapon in the following testbed:

  • Athlon 64 3400+ CPU (2.20GHz, 1MB L1 cache);
  • ASUS K8V Deluxe mainboard;
  • OCZ PC-3200 Platinum EB DDR SDRAM (2x512MB, CL2.5-3-2-8);
  • Seagate 7200.7 HDD (SerialATA-150, 8MB buffer);
  • Creative SoundBlaster Audigy 2 audio card;
  • Microsoft Windows XP Pro SP1, DirectX 9.0b;
  • Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 60.72, ATI Catalyst 4.4.

The new chip is going to be the premium offer in NVIDIA’s product range, so we took worthy rivals to it: GeForce FX 5950 Ultra and RADEON 9800 XT. Regrettably, our overclocking the GeForce 6800 Ultra was hardly a success as the card only worked stable at 435/1150MHz frequencies (GPU/memory). The memory chips didn’t even reach the frequency that they are rated for, 1200MHz. Well, the NV40 is a complex chip, so there’s no wonder its shows low overclockability.

The NV40 supports 16x anisotropic filtering (AF) and we enabled this anisotropy level for it as well as for the RADEON 9800 XT. The GeForce FX 5950 Ultra performed AF in the 8x mode, the maximum available anisotropy level for this card.

The following games and benchmarking suites are to become the battlefield for the three giants of 3D graphics to meet at:

There are two new names in the list, marked with bold type. The first of them, Firestarter, is a 3D shooter from a Russian developer. The game itself is no revelation, but rather a well-made mainstream product, and it suits for testing purposes due to excellent scalability. There’s only one problem. The game uses 1600x1024 resolution instead of 1600x1200 and the RADEON 9800 XT refused to work in this mode. So we only post two results for this graphics card in Firestarter, in 1024x768 and in 1280x1024.

Lock On is a regular air-combat simulator, differing from the renowned IL-2 Sturmovik in the background: you fly present-day MiG-29 and Su-27 machines rather than the planes of World War 2. The game features beautiful graphics, a realistic flight model, and multilayer volumetric clouds that can pull down the fps rate, so a powerful graphics card and a fast CPU are a must for this game, just like it is the case with IL-2, though.

As usual, we set up the highest graphics quality settings in each game. During our tests, we encountered two cases of incorrect image reproduction, in Far Cry and Command & Conquer: generals, we’ll discuss them in the corresponding sections of the review.

In the near future, we are going to replace the demo versions of Unreal Tournament 2004 and Far Cry with their full versions to provide a more accurate picture of how modern graphics cards perform in real games.

 
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