Final Words

This is the first game we've seen in a long time that has impressed us with amazing visual quality running at 640x480. The incredible artwork and unbelievable programming that went into this game are nothing short of awesome.

Summing up the data we've collected is almost impossible, as the value in the numbers varies infinitely based on one's perspective. We are always most interested in value here at AnandTech, and far as bang for Doom3 dollar, the 6800 or 6800 GT are very solid options. Unfortunately, availability of these parts may not be high enough to get one of these NV40 based cards into everyone's hands.

The absolute fastest card we've seen for Doom 3 has been the 6800 Ultra series of cards. Though, after experiencing multiple issues with our eVGA Ultra Extreme part (it won't make it through one benchmark run at GT speeds anymore), we are reminded of John Carmack's comment about Doom 3 taxing graphics cards in ways beyond current games and that this fact may cause problems for those who overclock their cards. Could this cause issues with factory overclocked cards, or is our experience just an unfortunate coincidence? Only time will tell, though Doom 3 will be our new graphics overclocking benchmark just to make sure we aren't pushing our cards too high in future vendor reviews.

The most important thing to take away from all this is that most will not likely "need" to upgrade their graphics solution in order to play this game at acceptable quality. Of course, by acceptable, we mean that a drool rag may be required to prevent damage to your keyboard. Yes, the game does look better, smoother, and insanely good at higher resolutions and quality settings (though the jump from High to Ultra Quality doesn't have the visual impact the uncompressed maps do on video RAM). But we can't, in good conscience, say that this game looks bad on anything but a Radeon 9200 or GeForce 5500, as these were the only cards we had to disable advanced options on to attain (almost) playable framerates. Even older cards like the GF4 4400 could handle running with all the 'important' bits enabled.

Bottom line: if Doom 3 is a game you want, buy your copy before you upgrade your graphics card and decide for yourself if the added polish is really worth the extra money. If it is, take a look at our numbers again, dial in a performance level and pick the card that's right for you.

But, what we can't see from this article is just how CPU limited this game can get. Running on an overclocked S939 FX53 does a very good job of eliminating the CPU as a performance bottleneck and shows graphics card performance very clearly. But we really do need a better picture of performance across different CPUs. Coming later this week, we will have a CPU focused Doom 3 article, and hopefully a couple other surprises as well. Stay tuned as Doom 3 week continues.
Low End Tests: Last Man Standing
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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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