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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  • 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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