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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  • edge929 - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    I think I'll wait about a YEAR for prices to come down to reasonable levels, then I'll get a 6800 Ultra and play it the way it's suppose to be played. Reply
  • VortigernRed - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    Derek,

    There is def something wrong with your figures here.

    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2146...

    You have a Geforce 6800 ontperforming a X800XTPE by about 70% on the top graph "high quality med res" also theX800 Pro scores are identical to the R9800 Pro. Maybe you have left a higher quality setting on with the X800s (AA or something)

    Gibhunter: Geforce4 MX is nothing like a GF3 TI 200. GF4 MX offers a similar featureset as the GF2 and pretty much the GF256 before it, however it has a better memory controller and so offers performance similar to the higher end Geforce2s ie Pro and Ultra. GF3 offers PS and VS.

    Reflex: JC always said that Doom3 targeted the Gefore256s featureset. However that does not mean the Geforce256s performance of course.
    Reply
  • Koing - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    Thanks for report Derek.

    I probaly own't be playing it for ages as I'm notmuch of a pc gamer but that is that.

    Koing
    Reply
  • Reflex - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    #36: Huh? GF3 was always the minimum spec for it... Reply
  • unclebud - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    "John Carmack has spoken of possible issues when overclocking a graphics card with Doom 3,"
    sounds like Mr C is trying to excuse his code bloat (to me).
    what happened to "voodoo 3 2000 will be able to run doom 3 fine"?
    Reply
  • araczynski - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    reminds me a lot of Deus Ex 2, cept more atmospheric and more responsive. Reply
  • araczynski - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    on my system 2.4@3.3/1GB/5900(128) the game plays very nicely with everything maxed (AA off) at 1024x768. the game is very good, especially in terms of atmosphere and graphics, the sound isn't as good as i think it could've been, but still very nice. also some issue with it not seeing 7.1 setups as surround, have to downgrade in windows to 5.1.

    worth teh wait i think, at least singleplayer is, don't really care about the multiplayer from this type of genre so won't try it.
    Reply
  • gibhunter - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    #27, GF4MX is more like GF3 Ti 200. GF2MX was more on par with the original Geforce video card.

    I am interested to see if the Radeon 9200 loses any frames per second on a slower CPU. My guess is that it doesn't take a very powerful cpu to max it out hence it should hover right around 20fps on even a P4 2GHz.
    Reply
  • maverick81 - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    I have a laptop with a AMD mobile 64 3200 and a ATI mobility 9600 with 64 mb. I have been using it for ganes until my x800 gets here. Only been playing doom 3 for about 4 hours. It seems to run fine, not as good as a desktop but playable. Reply
  • thebluesgnr - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    Derek,

    do you have a FX5200 or 5500 with a 64-bit memory interface to test?

    also, I'd like to see the Radeon 9550 results.

    Thanks,
    Reply

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