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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  • redscull - Friday, September 03, 2004 - link

    Thought I'd share my own benchmarks, especially so people can see the impact the CPU makes. I ran once to let the demo cache, then took the average of two following times.

    Shuttle SN85G4V2, Athlon 64 3000+, 1GB PC3200, XFX 6800 GT 256MB, Raptor drive

    1600x1200, no AA, High Quality: 58.2
    1024x768, 4xAA, High Quality: 63.0

    I'm 0.7 and 2.2 fps slower in those tests, and the only real difference between my system and the review system is about a $550 CPU upgrade =)
    Reply
  • uethello - Friday, August 06, 2004 - link

    I appreciate all the hard work that went into this review but I wish you had used a more realistic / mainstream CPU i.e.; AMD 2500+ or a p4. Just my .02 All in all, though, a fantastic article. Reply
  • Phiro - Friday, August 06, 2004 - link

    Question, how much memory does each card have? Does it make a big diff with Doom3 if you have 128mb vs. 256mb? I'm asking becuase there is a huge price difference between a 6800 128mb and a 6800 256mb. Reply
  • Locutus4657 - Thursday, August 05, 2004 - link

    I just thought I would post that I am running an AMD64 3000+ with 1GB Ram on a Chaintech MB with an ATI Radeon 9600XT. Running 1024.768 medium quality is no problem! Reply
  • DerekWilson - Thursday, August 05, 2004 - link

    KrazyDawg ...

    You're right ... copied down wrong again.

    Last time I copy data while I'm trying not to fall asleep, I promise.
    Reply
  • KrazyDawg - Thursday, August 05, 2004 - link

    Can the results for the High Quality Med test be fixed? It shows the Radeon 9800 Pro with a higher frame rate than the 9800 XT. Also, the 9800XT has the same frame rate as a 9700Pro. Reply
  • KrazyDawg - Thursday, August 05, 2004 - link

    Will there be a noticeable difference in frame rate between a 9800 Pro 256MB and a 9800 Pro 128MB? Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - link

    GREAT article guys. After playing it for a couple days, I agree 100% with what was said. Awesome game, brilliant developing by Carmack and his team. There's not a game I'd rather be playing right now... some people aren't impressed by it... because they filled their head with hype about how it will be revolutionary and a breakthrough in gaming. While it's not quite THAT amazing, it is in my opinion, easily the best looking game you can buy today... including Far Cry. Reply
  • mattmm - Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - link

    Maybe I'm missing something, or I'm just uneducated with PCI-Express. But shouldn't PCI-E be involved in testing? If thats the way the graphics slot standard is headed, why havent they produced high perofmrance cards like the 6800 for that platform? And what is everyones feeligns about being left int he dust with your $500 AGP card in a couple months "IF" PCI-E is debuted with something better? Like a majority I'm faced with having to buy a whole new system for this game, but I dont want to jsut put something together to play this game NOW, I want it for games LATER as well. Just dont want to make the mistake of sinking the dough into a technology where in a few months the possibility of something far greater is bound. (I know its the hate-love relationship with advancing technology) Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - link

    I made a slight mistake earlier when I said the console command to show the framerate while playing is "con_showfps 1", it is actually "com_showfps 1". Sorry.

    #57- my CPU is actually a slightly overclocked XP 1700+ which I've ran at 1800+ speeds ever since I built this box. I did try overclocking my Ti4200 to Ti4400 speeds (275/550), which is well within its maximum possible overclock without any visible corruption (290/580).

    As you'd expect, a faster graphics card did next to nothing for my framerate at 640x480 as that was pretty much CPU limited. The 10% gfx overclock only raised the framerate of the 640x480 low quality mode by 1%, from 31.4 fps to 31.7fps. I doubt even a 6800 Ultra could manage more than 33fps with my CPU, mobo, and memory. So an XP 1800+ on a KT266A mobo has a roughly 33fps ceiling regardless of graphics card or mode.

    At 1024x768 medium quality, the 21.2fps at 250/500 was raised by a healthy 8% to 22.9fps with the 250/550 overclock of 10%, so a faster graphics card would in my system would definitely push that a lot higher, probably close to 33fps. Increasing core speed alone had a greater impact than memory alone, at 275/500 I measured 22.2fps, while at 250/550 I got 21.8fps. If you've got any GeForce4 Ti series card (even an overclocked Ti4600), regardless of your CPU I'd recommend running at 800x600 in Medium quality mode, or possibly High quality mode with Aniso disabled though you're unlikely to see much difference and theres always the risk of texture swapping at some point.
    Reply

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