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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  • 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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