Half Life 2 GPU Roundup Part 2 - Mainstream DX8/DX9 Battleby Anand Lal Shimpi on November 19, 2004 6:35 PM EST
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Battle in the Canal
Our first benchmark is packed full of just about all of the stressful elements you will encounter throughout Half Life 2. The demo starts aboard a boat driving in a tunnel before making a splash into a wide open body of water. The boat is piloted over to the shore where the player dismounts and heads inside for some action.
While inside the flashlight is used to illuminate dark areas and the player encounters a few firefights before heading upstairs to the outside. While outside (and while being pursued by a helicopter) the player encounters a few enemies on his way into a warehouse. The demo concludes inside the warehouse.
We created this demo because it incorporates just about everything – water, the flashlight, a vehicle, engaging enemies indoors as well as outdoors and sunlight. Since we’re dealing with all very capable cards here, let’s first look at performance at 1280 x 1024. Remember that we used the highest detail settings with the exception of anisotropic filtering and antialiasing, which were both disabled for this test (we will look at their impact on image quality/performance later on in this review).
We’ve already looked at the performance of the Radeon 9700 Pro and the Radeon 9800 Pro, those cards are only included so you have a way of tying the performance of these GPUs to the ones we compared in Part 1 (the numbers are comparable).
The non-Pro Radeon 9700 does very well, as does the Radeon 9600XT. If you look at the performance difference between the 9550 and the 9600XT you should have a good idea about how intermediate cards like the Radeon 9600 Pro should perform.
The GeForce FX 5900XT performs absolutely horribly here as you can expect.
The resolution scaling graph is particularly important here because not all of these cards are best suited for 1024 x 768. ATI’s Radeon X300 is particularly interested because it actually performs relatively well at 800 x 600 (as does its competitor – the GeForce 6200). Remember, we’re looking at DirectX 9 performance here and even the $80 X300 SE is playable at 800 x 600. Not bad at all.
Next up we look at DirectX 8 performance, for these graphs we’ve taken out the 9700 Pro and 9800 Pro as you’d have no reason to run either of those cards in DX8 mode.
The Radeon 9700 and the 9600XT continue to do extremely well here but this time around, the GeForce FX 5900XT actually offers very solid performance. When Valve said that you should treat the FX series as DirectX 8 hardware, they weren’t kidding.
Owners of older GeForce4 cards should be pretty happy with DX8 performance as the Ti 4600 was quite playable in our at_canals_08 test.