The Test

We decided to focus solely on how graphics card selection impacts the framerate of Doom 3 using the built in timedemo utility and prerecorded demo1.demo benchmark. This was done in the interest of getting useable data out as soon as possible. We are currently playing with recording our own demos and testing other aspects of the game. From what we've seen so far, it seems like demo1 and the timedemo utility report an accurate picture of performance.

In order to eliminate as much bottleneck as possible from the system, we went with our overclocked FX53 in the 939 platform. After having gathered data for this and other reviews we are working on, our overclock may have had more impact if we had pushed the RAM of the system rather than the multiplier of our processor. But that's another article.

 Performance Test Configuration
Processor(s): AMD Athlon 64 FX53 (oc to 2.6GHz)
RAM: 2 x 512Mb OCZ 3500 Platinum Ltd (2:3:2:10)
Hard Drives Seagate 120GB 7200 RPM (8MB Buffer)
Video AGP & IDE Bus Master Drivers VIA Hyperion 4.51
Video Card(s): NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra Extreme
NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra
NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT
NVIDIA GeForce 6800
NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950
ATI Radeon X800 XT Platinum Ed.
ATI Radeon X800 Pro
ATI Radeon 9800 XT
NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 Ultra
NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra
ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 128
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro
ATI Radeon 9600 XT
NVIDIA GeForce FX 5500
ATI Radeon 9200
NVIDIA GeForce 4 Ti 4400
Video Drivers: ATI Catalyst 4.7
NVIDIA ForceWare 61.77
Operating System(s): Windows XP Professional SP1
Motherboards: MSI MS-6702E (VIA K8T800 Pro Chipset)


Our tests are divided into sections that reflect the general performance capabilities of the cards tested. For example, High End consists of current generation cards such as the X800 Pro and 6800, Low end consists of much older or very low performance cards like the GF4 Ti 4400 and the Radeon 9200. Midrange is essentially everything in between and is the largest category with the most tests.

Index High End Tests: Tourney
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  • DerekWilson - Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - link

    Essobie:

    Between the High Quality at 1024x768 graph and the High Quality at 800x600 graph (in the Low End performance analysis), you can see that the 5700U and 9600XT scale a little more than 10fps when dropping res. This number is bigger for higher performance cards. We should have included a couple of last years high end cards in that graph. Sorry for the omission.
    Reply
  • Essobie - Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - link

    I sure would have liked a comparison for ALL the mentioned cards in a few of the different settings side by side. The idea that you can choose what card is right for you can't both be expressed by visual quality and frames per second in three seperate teers.

    What I'd like is to see what the best card for the buck is going to be that will run the game around 60fps in 800x600 with all graphical nicities on. As it is now, I have to just make a judgement call on what the Mid-Range results show, even though the difference in performance between 800x and 1024x are likely to differ in the 10-20 fps level, if I am assuming correctly.

    I love the article, but it would be nice to simply find 'how' I want to play the game, and then see what performs best at those settings. Maybe it's just that none of their settings match what I think is really important. :(
    Reply
  • kherman - Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - link

    ATI 9600 SE, using a 2800+ athlon. Not sure of memmory, etc. Have 512 meg though. Latest non-beta ATI drivers.

    640x480 med - 26.8 fps

    I can't wait to post my 6800 numbers ;)
    Reply
  • Sonic587 - Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - link

    Thank you, PrinceGaz. Very interesting results. Have you tried OCing any of your hardware? Decent FPS considering you have PC2100 and a 1800+. All this with a 4200 at stock! Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - link

    I should add that those framerates were measured by doing four runs at each resolution and quality setting, discarding the first run, then taking an average of the other three (they were very consistent and only varied by one tenth of an fps between the second, third and fourth runs). High quality really was marginally faster than Medium, when Aniso was off. Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - link

    To run the timedemo, at the console type "timedemo demo1.demo". If you want to see the fps in the top-right corner while playing, type "con_showfps 1".

    I tested my system a couple of days ago using the timedemo (XP 1800+, 768MB PC2100, 128MB Ti4200 @ 250/500 Det 56.72). All Advanced settings were at the defaults (all enabled except for VSync):

    640x480 low - 31.4 fps
    640x480 med - 31.3 fps
    680x480 high - 23.4 fps, or 31.4 fps if Aniso forced Off in the driver (the game requests 8x Aniso on High setting)

    800x600 low - 28.2 fps
    800x600 med - 27.9 fps
    800x600 high - 28.0 fps with Aniso forced Off

    1024x768 low - 21.6 fps
    1024x768 med - 21.2 fps
    1024x768 high - 21.2 fps with Aniso forced Off

    There is no real difference in framerate on a 128MB Ti4200 between Low, Medium, or High quality, except for the 8x Aniso used in High quality mode which cripples older generation cards. Force Aniso off and you can use High quality with no drop in framerate. The optimum balance of resolution and framerate for my system while playing was 800x600 which played surprisingly well and looked a lot better than I expected.
    Reply
  • cosmotic - Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - link

    Actually, GF4MX has no shader support, so its not at all like the GF3. Last card without shader support was GF2s. I was right, according to nVidias website, the only thing it has over the GF2MX is antialiasing... And maybe their light speed memory architecture, video processing engine (DVD) and nView, although I dont know it the GF2MX had that or not. Reply
  • Detritis - Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - link

    From various stories that I have read regarding framerates in Doom 3, I was under the impression that it was going to be capped at 60 fps. However there is a couple of time that some cards break 70 and even 100! Reply
  • Sonic587 - Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - link

    How did the GF Ti4400 do @800X600 medium quality? Not to be nitpicky, but it's well known that AF will kill any GF4 series card. Reply
  • Crassus - Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - link

    Thx for including the GF4. I don't really know why the 4400 though, as the 4200 was sold in way higher quantities. Good to see though that it can run DIII decently. Reply

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