High End Tests: TourneyIn this section, we will be taking a look at Ultra Quality performance, as well as various high resolutions and antialiasing settings. These are the only cards that can handle 1600x1200 or antialiasing. Though jaggies aren't a big problem (the artists designed the game very well with many low contrast edges), eliminating these minor annoyances is a luxury afforded to those with these latest generation power houses.
To clarify an issue we've noticed across the board, Ultra Quality runs perfectly fine on current generation high end hardware. Yes, the game recommends >500 MB of nice fast graphics RAM, as do we if one's intention is to play through the single player game. But, it is very important to note that all the multiplayer maps we've played on in the past few hours have been small enough to avoid the massive swapping that occurs when moving between parts of the world on the single player map.
This really means two things to us. When 512MB cards come around, we won't need any heavier artillery on the GPU side to tackle rendering the game. It also means that Deathmatch players can easily benefit from the Ultra Quality setting immediately.
Not all tests are without problems, and this time we experienced some issues with our 6800 Ultra Extreme part. We noticed visual artifacts as we were running our AA tests. These kept getting worse as time went on, and not even letting the card cool down would help fix the problem. Eventually, our system rebooted while we were testing and wouldn't get through another benchmark run. John Carmack has spoken of possible issues when overclocking a graphics card with Doom 3, and this may or may not have an impact on factory overclocked parts. We will absolutely keep our ears open and our test beds working to try to determine if this is just an isolated random GPU death, or if there is some other evil at work.
Another intersting observation we've made is that if your 6800 Ultra Extreme can handle the game, Ultra Quality at 1600x1200 with 4xAA is a playable reality. But enough talk; feast on the numbers.