UPDATE: After hearing feedback on the article, we went back and ran tests on the GeForce 6800 GT and the Radeon X800 XL in order to fill in an upper midrange price gap. Note that there are no tests for the X800 XL at 2048x1536 due to difficulties getting the card to run properly at this resolution (it would only render the upper left 1600x1200 of the screen). Though we have alluded to it before, we would like to note that while we have had zero issues running NVIDIA cards at very high resolutions, it has been a constant struggle to get ATI cards to properly render resolutions above 1600x1200 on analog monitors.

As far as performance of this update goes, the X800 XL slightly trails the 6800 GT without AA enabled, but performs much better after all the options are turned up.

Introduction

The Battlefield series has thus far been a resounding success in terms of popularity. Among the very first of the seemingly endless stream of WWII based war games, Battlefield 1942 broke highly sought-after ground. Digital Illusions CE (DICE) has done it again with the beautifully crafted Battlefield 2.

This modern era combat game pits US troops against imagined Chinese and middle eastern forces. With 16-, 32-, and 64-player maps, gamers are able to immerse themselves in anything from a small scale game to a war full of total carnage. The goal is to seize and defend multiple control points from the enemy, and while this concept may seem simple enough, the game play that ensues is fast-paced and intense.



The ability to command an entire battle and tightly organize small squads of players adds a healthy heaping of tactics and strategy to battles. Players can still go at it alone in sniper or special ops roles, but in all cases, clear graphics are an important advantage. Even at lower resolutions, the game is gorgeous, but in order to take full advantage of the terrain, stay on top of advancing forces, or snipe from extreme distances, graphics detail and resolution must be set as high as possible.

DICE has, again, developed their own engine in order to take complete advantage of modern hardware in the way that they see fit. The beauty of the combat in this game is nothing short of amazing, and players will want to turn on all the bells and whistles. What kind of hardware will it take to run this game at huge resolutions and blazing frame rates? That's what we're here to find out.

This test of multiple graphics cards in a demo recorded and played back using the built-in demo recording and playback functionality to determine performance characteristics over resolutions from 800x600 all the way to 2048x1536 with and without 4xAA/AF. In order to make sure that each card was tested correctly, we deleted the shader cache after installing each card. One of the major selling points of today's budget cards is their ability to run modern games at modest resolutions without sacrificing effects and features. For this reason, all cards were tested with quality settings on high (except AA and texture filtering where indicated). High Texture Filtering settings result in 4xAF and Medium gives 2xAF, and we did not use control panel set AA/AF levels as both ATI and NVIDIA recommend using in game settings. We used an FX-55 based system with 1GB of 2:2:2:8 RAM for our tests with the latest public WHQL drivers (Catalyst 5.6 and ForceWare 77.72).

Budget Performance Tests
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  • crazyeddie - Thursday, July 07, 2005 - link

    I would like to add that I don't understand omitting X800XL from comparisons. It's ATI's most popular mid-range video solution. Reply
  • yacoub - Thursday, July 07, 2005 - link

    Add me to the list of people looking forward to a more complete article with CPU scaling and a 9800 Pro and an 800XL included in the tests. Reply
  • formulav8 - Thursday, July 07, 2005 - link

    I just bought a Regular 6800 Vanilla AGP and thought/hoping that should/would be included.

    I am happy that mine unlocks the pipes and shader just fine! (Well, so far anyways)

    I ran 3DMark03 and got 8086 with stock pipes and got 8778 with 16x6x pipes. Not to bad with a fairly slow cpu. Thats a 8% increase with no oc or anything, and with a fairly slow cpu that is bottlenecking most likely.

    I will try ocing it next week when I get a cpu/mobo that will push it alittle more.

    I am running a Athlon XP with 128KB L1 and 128KB L2 Cache at 2ghz. And yes, that IS the right L2 Cache numbers on this cpu :)

    Are there any instructions that I can find to run my own benchmark numbers for BattleField2?? Anyone know???


    Jason
    Reply
  • pcfountain - Thursday, July 07, 2005 - link

    And while I'm on the subject of price/performance, how about a graph of street price vs. FPS for each card, so we can see the "value" of each card visually? The more I think about what information this article *should have* presented, I come to realize that it is just fluff. The basic conclusion is that higher-priced cards get better FPS. No duh? Reply
  • pcfountain - Thursday, July 07, 2005 - link

    I agree with many others, leaving the X800XL out of this roundup (and in fact EVERY X800-series card) is a HUGE oversight. The X800XL a very popular card and probably the best price/performance ratio for the high-end right now. IMO the article is useless without this comparison. Reply
  • dornick - Thursday, July 07, 2005 - link

    Only the X700 and the X850XT tested in the high-end!? What about the half-dozen other cards in between? Reply
  • Killrose - Thursday, July 07, 2005 - link

    Can we get off this FX-55 addiction and use a lower RANGE of CPU's to see how the game scales with a lower class CPU?

    A 6200 or X300 GPU being crappy is really a no-brainer. And pairing it with a world class FX-55 CPU is senceless.
    Reply
  • L3p3rM355i4h - Thursday, July 07, 2005 - link

    9600 and 8500 are 4 pipes.

    My winnie @ 2.5 1GB of RAM and 9800@ 480/375 runs 10x7 everything on high very well. No lag what so ever. Granted, I have a sign. advantage over a x700pro and a 6600gt.
    Reply
  • Questar - Thursday, July 07, 2005 - link

    My bad, I thought the 9800 was a four pipe card. Reply
  • drizek - Thursday, July 07, 2005 - link

    i have a 6600gt, gig of ram @360, amd 3200+ and i can play it at 1600x1200 with 2xAA and medium everything else(around 40fps).

    from all the guides ive seen, there is a very small difference in graphics by moving to High settings from medium, but you see a big performance hit. You should tested the low/midrange cards using medium, because i doubt many people are going to crank it up to high and then play at 1024x768.


    here are some screenshots comparing low/medium/high settings

    http://www.tweakguides.com/BF2_5.html
    Reply

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