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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  • jkostans - Thursday, July 07, 2005 - link

    Yeah the 9800 pro runs fine at 1024x768 with graphics high on my barton 3000+ (2.2ghz). Oh yeah and a gig of pc2700 ram. I would compare the framerate to CS:S but a tad slower in some areas. Oh and for people wanting to find out how their computer performs, there is a demo available. Yeah it's 500mb but it's good. Reply
  • Xenoterranos - Thursday, July 07, 2005 - link

    Where's the Voodo 3 2000/K62 test setup? Come on guys, cater to the poor b@stards out here... :p Reply
  • WileCoyote - Thursday, July 07, 2005 - link

    For you 9800 Pro owners this game runs pretty well on a 3ghz p4 with 2gb of ram.

    I run BF2 at 1024x768, medium, 4xAA and it runs very smooth. I'm sure you could even bump up some of the medium settings to high.
    Reply
  • Aikouka - Thursday, July 07, 2005 - link

    #16:

    I mean bias as in a statistical bias, not a personal preference.
    Reply
  • Jep4444 - Thursday, July 07, 2005 - link

    how bout we seem some tests from either an X600Pro/XT or a 9600Pro/XT, these cards are extremely common and personally i'd like to know how my card fairs in BF2, i don't want to have to wait until the X550 comes out(basically a 9600Pro with 500mhz RAM instead of 600mhz) to find out how my card should perform Reply
  • yacoub - Thursday, July 07, 2005 - link

    Oh I see now. FX-55 system. Heh. Reply
  • yacoub - Thursday, July 07, 2005 - link

    Sweet so if I get an X800XL card for around $300 (the most anyone should have to pay for a GPU to play the latest games smoothly), I can just about handle 1280x1024 with 4xAA/High quality at around 50fps. That's not toooooooo bad.

    Oh wait, I wonder what the rest of the test system's specs are (I didn't see them on any of the pages). If it's like an FX-57 or something then that's not exactly promising for the majority of us running 3000+-3700+ A64 systems who will clearly experience a bit lower performance. =/
    Reply
  • Avalon - Thursday, July 07, 2005 - link

    #18,

    An X700 does not have twice the pipes of a 9800 pro, it has the same exact ammount. It also is not clocked much higher. The x700pro is clocked at 425/860 compared to a 9800pro at 380/680. As you can see, core speeds are fairly close, and memory speeds...well, the 9800pro is 256bit while the x700pro is 128bit, so despite the clockspeed advantage, the x700 should actually have less memory bandwidth in the end. This puts the cards roughly equal.
    Reply
  • OrSin - Thursday, July 07, 2005 - link

    the x700pro is clocked a little higher but has the same number of pipes and only 128 bus where the 9800pro has 256 bus. In truth the 9800pro is faster then the x700 and might be about the same as the 700pro or just little faster. Reply
  • coldpower27 - Thursday, July 07, 2005 - link

    Questar, X700 is the RV410 chip which is 8X1/6 vs the the 9800 Pro R350 chip with 8X1/4. Though the X700 Pro has the advanatge of being clcoked a little higher.

    The X700 Pro should be close to the 6600 GT. And certainly does not have twice the pixel pipes or vertex pipes of 9800 Pro.
    Reply

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