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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  • kmmatney - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    The Sunday BestBuy advetisement has Celeron desktops with integrated graphics advertised, with Doom3 shown in the monitor window. What a crock! Reply
  • Zoomer - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    You might try running a 9700pro with 9500pro's gpu clock and 1/2 of its mem clock to try and simulate a 9500pro.

    Would be pretty interesting to compare against if you finally manage to get a real 9500pro. :)

    Btw, what about more exotic grapgics chipsets? ;)
    Reply
  • bastula - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    Do you happen to have a GeForce 4 MX (64 MB) to try? Since they said it should be playable with that card, I was curious to know how that would compare to the cards you have listed (more specifically, the Radeon 9200 and FX 5700).

    Thanks!

    Good comparison though, appreciate the hard work and loss of sleep. You should get some rest. :)
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    the gf4 line is actually a fairly widely adopted platform, and the minimum requirements for Doom3 are gf4 mx or better (iirc) ... the tnt2 wouldn't run doom3.

    I thought about trying the intel integrated out, but then decided that I was sane and could not do such a thing.
    Reply
  • mena805 - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    They also forgot the 5900XT for some reason. This is a MUCH better performing card than the crappy 5700 and 5500's. Reply
  • cosmotic - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    why did you pick the 4400 as the low end nvidia? why not run a more mainstreme card like TNT2s or Intel? Or Rage 128? thats what most customers have, right? Maybe some GF2 MX. The funny thing is that new computers at best buy come with this sort of shit up until recently. Although intel seems to be managing this still.

    Where did they marketing for the intel graphics come from? Extremely what? shitty? slow? worthless?

    Maybe they should have called it intel:
    abysmal
    usable
    painful
    weak
    worth-less-than-the-sylicon-its-printed-on
    ... grpahics.
    Reply
  • Genx87 - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    Buy Doom3 and burnout your 400 dollar video card :) Reply
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    Sorry guys, I don't have a 9500 or an 8500 around the lab ... You're right about the 9500 though; the lack of sleep is catching up with me ... goodnight. Reply
  • punko - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    I was hoping for a commend about my old ATI 8500.
    Reply
  • bearxor - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    If I'm not mistaken, the 9550 is not the same as a 9500 Pro. I think that you're right that it is a underclocked 9600, which would mean only 4 pipes. The 9500 Pro is exactly like the 9700 Pro except with only a 128-bit memory bus.

    I have a 9500 Pro, and am extremely intrested in seeing how the 8 pipes of the 9500 Pro match up to the 4 Pipe + Higher clock speed of the 9600 series.

    I have no real intrest in Doom 3, so I've been looking for those benchmarks, but every frame rate report I've read so far just skips from the 9200 to the 9600, ignoring the 9500, even though its a very different GPU from the 9600.

    In other words, no a 9550 wouldn't help.
    Reply

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