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Testbed and Methods

We are going to investigate World of Warcraft: Cataclysm graphics performance using the following universal testbed:

  • Intel Core i7-975 Extreme Edition processor (3.33 GHz, 6.4 GT/s QPI);  
  • Scythe SCKTN-3000 Katana 3 CPU cooler;
  • Gigabyte GA-EX58-Extreme mainboard (Intel X58 Express chipset);
  • Corsair XMS3-12800C9 (3 x 2 GB, 1333 MHz, 9-9-9-24, 2T);
  • Samsung Spinpoint F3 HDD (1 TB, 32 MB buffer, SATA II);
  • Ultra X4 850 W modular power supply;
  • Dell 3007WFP monitor (30", 2560x1600 @ 60 Hz max display resolution);
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit;
  • Nvidia GeForce 270.61 for Nvidia GeForce;
  • ATI Catalyst 11.4 for Radeon HD.

The ATI Catalyst and Nvidia GeForce graphics card drivers were configured in the following way:

ATI Catalyst:

  • Anti-Aliasing: Use application settings/4x/Standard Filter
  • Morphological filtering: Off
  • Tessellation: Use application settings
  • Texture Filtering Quality: High Quality
  • Enable Surface Format Optimization: Off
  • Wait for vertical refresh: Always Off
  • Anti-Aliasing Mode: Adaptive Multi-sample AA
  • Other settings: default

Nvidia GeForce:

  • Texture filtering – Quality: High quality
  • Vertical sync: Force off
  • Antialiasing - Transparency: Multisampling
  • CUDA – GPUs: All
  • Set PhysX configuration: Auto-select
  • Ambient Occlusion: Off
  • Other settings: default

According to the Blizzard Support web-site, the main idea behind DirectX 11 API implementation in World of Warcraft game engine was to speed it up compared to the morally outdated DirectX 9 version. Therefore, we were interested in finding out just how much performance improvement we can get from a new rendering method.

The tests were performed in “Ultra” mode with FSAA 4x enabled and there were a total of 15 testing participants:

Premium Category

  • ATI Radeon HD 6990
  • ATI Radeon HD 6970
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 590
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 580

Performance Category

  • ATI Radeon HD 6950
  • ATI Radeon HD 6870
  • ATI Radeon HD 6850
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 570
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Titanium

Mainstream Category

  • ATI Radeon HD 5770
  • ATI Radeon HD 5750
  • ATI Radeon HD 5670
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 550 Titanium
  • Nvidia GeForce GT 430

We ran our tests in the following standard resolutions: 1600x900, 1920x1080 and 2560x1600. The testing consisted of a run in a forest of Feralas as well as a small fight on the beaches near Night Elf base. This allows to accurately test graphics card load rather, because the network or server related lag slows down the gameplay in major cities and heavily populated areas. We measured the average and minimum performance using Fraps utility version 3.4.2. Each test scenario was repeated three times and the average value of the three runs was taken for the analysis, as always.

 
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