Quake 4 Performance

There has always been a lot of debate in the community surrounding pure timedemo benchmarking. We have opted to stick with the timedemo test rather than the nettimedemo option for benchmarking Quake 4. To be clear, this means our test results focus mostly on the capability of each graphics card to render frames generated by Quake 4. The frame rates we see here don't directly translate into what one would experience during game play.

Additionally, Quake 4 limits frame rate to 60 fps during gameplay whether or not VSync is enabled. Performance characteristics of a timedemo do not reflect actual gameplay. So why do we do them? Because the questions we are trying to answer have only to do with the graphics subsystem. We want to know what graphics card is better at rendering Quake 4 frames. Any graphics card that does better at rendering Quake 4 frames will handle Quake 4 better than another card. While that doesn't mean the end user will necessarily see higher performance throughout the game, it does mean that the potential for seeing more performance is there. For instance, if the user upgrades CPUs while keeping the same graphics card, having higher potential GPU performance is going to be important.

What this means to the end user is that in-game performance will almost always be lower than timedemo performance. It also means that graphics cards that do slightly better than other graphics cards will not always show a tangible performance increase on an end user's system. As long as we keep these things in mind, we can make informed conclusions based on the data we collect.

Our benchmark consists of the first few minutes of the first level. This includes both inside and outdoor sections, with the initial few fire fights. We tested the game with Ultra Quality settings (uncompressed normal maps), and we enabled all the advanced graphics options except for VSync. Id does a pretty good job of keeping framerate very consistent, and so in-game framerates of 25 are acceptable. While we don't have the ability to make a direct mapping to what that means in the timedemo test, our experience indicates that a timedemo fps of about 35 translates into an enjoyable experience on our system. This will certainly vary on other systems, so take it with a grain of salt. The important thing to remember is that this is more of a test of relative performance of graphics cards when it comes to rendering Quake 4 frames -- it doesn't directly translate to Quake 4 experience.

Quake 4 Performance

At resolutions over 1280x1024, the GeForce 7950 GT falls short of the X1900 XT 256MB. Even with all these cards offering playable performance at 1920x1440, it's still a better idea to stick with the card that will give you higher performance for less money. In this case, that would be the Radeon X1900 XT 256MB. That is, if you can get ahold of it at a reasonable price.

Quake 4 Performance

While these numbers are a little more cluttered with lower end SLI solutions falling on top of high end single card setups, the lead ATI has held since their release of Catalyst 6.8 remains strong, especially with AA enabled. Not only does the X1900 XT 256MB outperform the 7950 GT, it outperforms the 7900 GTX. Not even SLI is enough to give an advantage to NVIDIA in these tests, and the 7950 GX2 only barely edges out the X1950 XTX in performance.

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  • Calin - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - link

    Maybe they just ignore some visual artifacts if the playing experience is good.
  • DerekWilson - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - link

    winners don't use drugs :-P

    also, I'm not trying to imply that we would like more fps for free -- just that (with oblivion) turning up the settings offers better playability (things don't pop out of no where right next to you) and a better visual experience than a higher framerate with less eye candy.

    plus, my wife hates jaggies. jaggies and bad anisotropic filtering. I've not seen her react to lag, as she doesn't usually play games where lag is a factor. but she definitely hates waiting for anything, so I'd guess she'd hate lag too.
  • LoneWolf15 - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - link

    Personally, I hope the Frag Dolls kick your butt for that remark. I'd pay money to see it.
  • yacoub - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - link

    PASSIVELY-COOLED top-tier GPU?! SWEET. Finally. :)
  • goatfajitas - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - link

    I would really like to see the 256mb version of 7950GT tested against the 512mb version (biostar makes both, but clocks are easy enough to adjust on any card) at various resolutions with and without 4xAA to see when/if the 512 megs helps speed things up.
  • tuteja1986 - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - link

    7950GT availability is terrible.. its looks like a 7800GTX 512MB launch.. few card released on day and none to seen for weeks ?

    Surprising I see ATI not having a paper launch with the X1950XTX which is amazing if you see ATI track record with delays after delays

    At the moment i don't think its wise to buy them , as i hear G80 product start next month and early November launch.

    I also hear that R600 has run in some trouble and i don't think they will be out this year and will lag 3months behind G80 launch. I would say Mid Jan if they fix what ever problem the engineers are having at ATI.
  • DerekWilson - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - link

    a 256mb version should really be branded as an overclocked 7900 GT, but I won't argue that too much :-)

    we are planning on doing a roundup of 7950 Gt cards, and we will address this issue at that time.

    Derek Wilson
  • goatfajitas - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - link

    Thanks. I should have guessed something like that would be coming from AT.
  • retrospooty - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - link

    cool. thanks.
  • R3MF - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - link

    i wonder if its possible?

    that with a Core 2 Duo 6600 would be a hell of a SFF combination!

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