It's been a long time coming, but we finally have Epic's first Unreal Engine 3 based game out on the PC. While the final version of Unreal Tournament 3 is still a little farther out, last week's beta release kept us occupied over the past several days as we benchmarked the engine behind Rainbow Six: Vegas, Gears of War and Bioshock.

Used in some very beautiful games, Epic's Unreal Engine 3 has been bringing us some truly next-generation game titles and is significantly more demanding on the CPU and GPU than Valve's Source engine. While far from the impossible-to-run that Oblivion was upon its release, UE3 is still more stressful on modern day hardware than most of what we've seen thus far.

The Demo Beta

Although Unreal Tournament 3 is due out before the end of the year, what Epic released is a beta of the UT3 Demo and thus it's not as polished as a final demo. The demo beta has the ability to record demos but it can't play them back, so conventional benchmarking is out. Thankfully Epic left in three scripted flybys that basically take a camera and fly around the levels in a set path, devoid of all characters.

Real world UT3 performance will be more strenuous than what these flybys show but it's the best we can muster for now. The final version of UT3 should have full demo playback functionality, with which we'll be able to provide better performance analysis. The demo beta also only ships with medium quality textures, so the final game can be even more stressful/beautiful if you so desire.

The flybys can run for an arbitrary period of time, we standardized on 90 seconds for each flyby in order to get repeatable results while still keeping the tests manageable to run. There are three flyby benchmarks that come bundled with the demo beta: DM-ShangriLa, DM-HeatRay and vCTF-Suspense.

As their names imply, the ShangriLa and HeatRay flybys are of the Shangri La and Heat Ray deathmatch levels, while the vCTF-Suspense is a flyby of the sole vehicle CTF level that comes with the demo.

Our GPU tests were run at the highest quality settings and with the -compatscale=5 switch enabled, which puts all detail settings at their highest values.

Our CPU tests were run at the default settings without the compatscale switch as we're looking to measure CPU performance and not GPU performance.

The Test

Test Setup

Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 (3.33GHz 4MB 1333FSB)
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700 (2.66GHz 4MB 1066FSB)
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 (2.40GHz 4MB 1066FSB)
Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 (2.66GHz 4MB 1333FSB)
Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 (2.33GHz 4MB 1333FSB)
Intel Core 2 Duo E4500 (2.2GHz 2MB 800FSB)
Intel Core 2 Duo E4400 (2.0GHz 2MB 800FSB)
Intel Pentium Dual-Core E2160 (1.8GHz 1MB 800FSB)
Intel Pentium Dual-Core E2140 (1.6GHz 1MB 800FSB)
AMD Athlon 64 X2 6400+ (3.2GHz 2x1MB)
AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ (3.0GHz 2x1MB)
AMD Athlon 64 X2 5600+ (2.8GHZ 2x1MB)
AMD Athlon X2 5000+ (2.6GHz 2x512K)
AMD Athlon X2 4200+ (2.2GHz 2x512K)
AMD Athlon X2 4000+ (2.1GHz 2x512K)

Motherboard Intel: Gigabyte GA-P35C-DS3R
AMD: ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe
Video Cards AMD Radeon HD 2900 XT
AMD Radeon X1950 XTX
NVIDIA GeForce 8800 Ultra
NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX
NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB
NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GTX
Video Drivers AMD: Catalyst 7.10
NVIDIA: 163.75
Hard Drive Seagate 7200.9 300GB 8MB 7200RPM
RAM 2x1GB Corsair XMS2 PC2-6400 4-4-4-12
Operating System Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit
UT3 Teaches us about CPU Architecture
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  • retrospooty - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link

    The demo is not full detail, its a playable test with lower image settings than the final game. Wait and see the final before we see what its "supposed" to look like.
  • shabby - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link

    If its really going to look like these pics then this performance review is useless, fps will drop by half. Im hoping you're right, but im betting epic simply polished up those pics to wow everyone.
  • imaheadcase - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link

    Yah, i downloaded the demo. I was really disappointed. It gets boring really fast, like Quake Wars does. Nothing really innovating in terms of graphics, or fun factor, or "repeatability" over long term.

    I think TF2 ruined all these games. lol
  • Pjotr - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link


    Despite being a mostly GPU-bound scenario, Intel still managed a 9% performance advantage over AMD at 3.0GHz.

    This text does not match the graphs posted, where the max gain was 4.4% for ShangriLa, the other two tests showed close to 0% difference. Analysis mistake, graph error, typo or what?
  • Frallan - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link

    Well since many of us today (yes even I bought one) has started to use Lappys and there is ones out now that where it is possible to play a view on how a 8600 GT w 512DDR2 and 256 DDR3 does would be nice and from 1680*1050 downwards. There are tons of these in lappys now so..

    Pretty please :)
  • Lifted - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link

  • Blacklash - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link

    Just grab ATiTool from Techpowerup! and reduce the clocks of the XT.

    Interesting article, and as someone said you have a chart with text referring to AMD above it and the actual CPU numbers labelled as Intel. The last four charts on the clock for clock page say AMD yet list Intel CPUs.
  • dvinnen - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link

    Last time I checked, ATiTool dosen't support the HD 2900xt. Only one that I know of is a buggy peice of software from AMD to change clock speeds.
  • NullSubroutine - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link

    Ati Tools works with 2900, I use it for my overclocking/fan contol.

    Ati Tray Tols does not work with the 2900. They are two different programs, Ati Tools is mainly for the things I use them for, while Tray Tools is a replacement for Catalyst Control Center.
  • Bjoern77 - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link

    why bench the 2900 pro? is there a 2900pro which can't be clocked back to xt level? :)

    I'm glad i got a 2900pro for myself, regarding this benches i get 95% performance of a 8800gtx for 50% of it's price.

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