Introduction

Kicking off what we've dubbed "Doom 3 Week" here at AnandTech, we're bringing you our in depth analysis of video card performance under Doom 3.


Staying up all night benchmarking one of the most anticipated titles of the past few years has been very educational for us. Quite a few impressions we had about what our Doom 3 experience would be like had to be thrown out the window, and it all comes down to the fact that this is an impressive game no matter how you slice it.

Our goal in this review is to cover all angles of graphics card impact on playing Doom 3. We will explore everything from the ultra high end down to the bargain basement cards. We've also included such favorites as the GeForce 4 Ti 4400, the Radeon 9700 Pro, and the Radeon 9600 XT. All the usual suspects put in an appearance as well to make this one of the most comprehensive graphics tests we've undertaken in a while.

But let's get down to it: we're here for the analysis, so lets take a look at the system we're testing on and iron out the details about what to expect from this review.

UPDATE: We have recently been made aware of ATI's beta Catalyst 4.9 drivers targeted at Doom 3 performance enhancement. These drivers will not be available in a whql package until September, but until then, here is a sneak peek at percentage performance improvement over the 4.7 drivers:

 Catalyst 4.9 Performance Improvement
  High 10x7 Ultra 10x7 High 16x12 Ultra 16x12
X800 XTPE 6.75% 8.29% 4.66% 5.21%
X800 Pro 6.87% 8.50% 2.99% 4.09%

 Catalyst 4.9 Performance Improvement w/ 4xAA Enabled
  High 10x7 Ultra 10x7 High 16x12 Ultra 16x12
X800 XTPE 19.07% 19.80% 14.38% 15.30%
X800 Pro 5.38% 6.18% 1.83% 3.40%


We can see that the biggest performance improvements come on the higher end platform, higher quality setting, higher AA setting, and lower resolution. We were unable to install this driver on 9800 series cards, but we hear that performance improvement on older platforms is less significant than what we see on the x800 series.

UPDATE: The issues we experienced with the eVGA GeForce 6800 Ultra Extreme have been fixed with an newer version of the card sent by eVGA.com that (among other things) dropped the core clock speed down to 450MHz. We put the card through a grueling series of tests which confirm its rock solid stability under Doom 3. The scores with the new stable revision will be slightly lower than the previous Ultra Extreme (because of the clock speed decerase), but it is still the fastest card we've tested with Doom 3.
The Test
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  • Xtian - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    I think it is about time to benchmark using common resolution settings. Most people with LCD screens want to run their games at the native
    1280x1024 resolution of their LCDs.
    So, will my 128MB radeon 9700 (non pro) be able to run the game at 1280x1024 ? Anyone who knows ?
    /Xtian
    Reply
  • gmenfan - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    How do you run the timedemo included with the game? Also, does anybody know the command to raise the refresh rate. Reply
  • Pollock - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    I'm getting very depressed...I have a GeForce2 MX that I got for free from my friend... Reply
  • Drayvn - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    Would you be able to use the 4.9 beta catalyst drivers, supposedly they are for the doom3 performance issues? Reply
  • RuStYwAvE - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    Why do you guys want to see the benchmarks on a gf4 4200 and ati 8500.
    4200 is slightly underclock 4400 so subtract a few framerates and the ati 8500 should perform better then a ati 9200 since it has a higher core and memory speed.
    Also i think the old geforce3 and geforce3 ti 500 is much better then a geforce fx 5200 and is equilivalent to a 5200 ultra and 5600 just under a geforce4 4200.
    Reply
  • Bonesdad - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    All this and you didn't test the much loved GF4 4200??? I believe this card to be much more popular than the 4400 and I also believe many more of us currently own one... Reply
  • implicit1 - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    I think something is wrong in the High Quality Med Res benchmark as well. The 9800xt is being beaten by the 9800pro, maybe the numbers are switched around? Reply
  • cliffa3 - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    in response to the laptop question, if it burned out a vid card, don't play with it sitting on your lap...geez.

    Seriously tho, the thinkpads are an awesome line...the only way to go imo. You might want to wait until the mobility 9800s come out if you want a real desktop replacement for gaming...don't know if they'll show up in the thinkpad line anytime soon (or at all). I know there was a news clip a while back on anandtech about it, you might want to dig and find that.
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    VortigernRed -- you were exactly right -- copied the wrong numbers over in my sleep haze.

    Its fixed now.
    Reply
  • Lucid484 - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    What about my GeForce 2 Ti!!!!! Which is OC to 300CPU/505RAM ...eh id prolly only get 5 fps anyway! Reply

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