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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  • WooDaddy - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    Hey tfranzese,

    Yeah, I'll be fine, but I don't want to run at 640x480. I do have DDR, but only 256. This definately reminds me of the old days when I wanted to play Turok with my Riva128 card on my AMD K75 (or something like that). The minimum spec back then was really minimum spec and it seems the same here. I don't like being on the low-end so I'll probably build up a A64 system with some decent video card.

    I just think this is great. D3 will hopefully be the shot in the arm to get everybody back to spending money in the PC market. I just hope Matrox, S3 and others jump back in the frey again.
    Reply
  • Boardmonger - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    I am currently looking at buying a IBM Thinkpad T42 with a 64mb 9600m and I want it to play Doom3 and HL2 (Maybe not great, but playable.) I really want to move to a mobile solution to replace my desktop, but I still want to play a game from time to time and I think that if I can find a notebook that can play Doom3 and HL2 it will handle most of the new games for the next year or more. Any chance of benchmarking some notebooks with mid range cards in the next round of tests? Reply
  • tfranzese - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    "Actually, your XP1700 is just fine (at the low end) The min spec is a 1.5 MHz Intel or roughly a XP1500+"

    Actually, because that 1.5 GHz Intel is a Pentium 4 adn his XP 1700+ is a 1.4 GHz Athlon. In comparison he's about 500 Willamette MHz ahead of the minimum with that chip. So, yeah, he's set as you said depending on Doom 3's memory bandwidth requirement which could play an important role.

    However, with a minimum such as a 1.5 GHz Pentium 4 you also have to consider what such ancient machines could have in them, namely the possible crippling SDRAM.
    Reply
  • cosmotic - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    it was my understanding that the GF4MX = GF2MX + AA. I'm surprised it would even work. It's funny that Carmack says GF4MX is ok when GF2MX isnt, if you dont have antialiasing on, your not ganing much. Maybe if its on a smaller process or something...

    lanz: Since they started menchmarking with ATI Cards... OHHH!!!! (j/k, yeah, sounds fishy)
    Reply
  • lanz - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    Actually, looking at those benchies, something is defo wrong....

    1024, x4 AA, High Quality X800 XTPE gets 51.6fps

    and

    1024, NO AA, High Quality X800 XTPE gets 46.5!

    Since when as applying x4AA increase your framerate?
    Reply
  • kherman - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    Where are the ati 9600 SE benchmarks!

    What can this Piece of XXXX do? I ave one and already decided to upgrade to a Geforce 6800 base model. I figured I'd be doing 640x480 at medium res....

    Will someone, ANYONE, do a benchmark for this card.
    Reply
  • punko - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    Actually, your XP1700 is just fine (at the low end) The min spec is a 1.5 MHz Intel or roughly a XP1500+ Reply
  • WooDaddy - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    Wow... I feel like its the old days when 640x480 was an acceptable resolution to play with my Nvidia Riva128.

    I feel invigorated almost. I must upgrade and spend money! My 4200 can't cut it. Neither can my Xp1700.

    Carmack, good job! You may have just singlehandedly improved the personal tech sector. I'm buying nvidia stock now! I would suggest you would too.

    Reply
  • Goi - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    Wow, the low end still seems pretty mainstream to me. I would've liked to see a GF3/GF4MX/R8500/GF FX5200 thrown into the mix. Reply
  • punko - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    Re:13

    Derek, I could sell you a used one . . .
    Reply

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