Half-Life 2

We have all been waiting for this title to hit the market, as it employs DX9 to almost the brim. The pixel shaders employed in this title alone can make one awe. For cost reasons, this engine is likely to be more attractive to gaming developers, as the DOOM III engine costs nearly 1 million dollars US. Valve has taken a different approach by slashing their prices down, and has asked for higher royalties for their license to make up for the lower upfront cost.

From the code standpoint, NVIDIA’s NV3x has had to take a lower code path in HL2, which Valve had to incorporate specially into their design, so that reasonable game play would be achieved on NV3x based cards. You can read more details relating to Half-Life 2 in Anand’s coverage.

In our mobile coverage, we forced on the DX9 code path, 32-bit depth, tri-linear filtering, and other high settings for which NVIDIA hardware would not automatically allow. For this review, we ended up deciding to keep AA and AF turned off because Half-Life 2 is a very intensive game with the use of pixel shaders to match. The scores that we are reporting, however they may raise a brow, are reflective of game play. The version of Half-Life 2 we used was source v0.4.

Shockingly, only 3 out of 8 times was the GeForce FX Go5650 able to surpass the 10 fps barrier. Even at its best, the GeForce FX Go5650 was only able to close the gap between the Mobility Radeon 9600 to 234%. “Slow as a pregnant yak” was a phase that we often heard in reference to these scores. While we wouldn’t put it in this exact context, the Mobility Radeon 9600 beats the GeForce FX Go5650 “no questions asked” in all of these scenarios, with the highest difference of 415% (36.6fps vs. 7.1fps).

What more can be said? The Mobility Radeon 9600 comfortably passes through all benchmark scenarios easily and never hits sub 30 fps, but this is putting everything lightly. For a mobile system that uses a Mobility Radeon 9600, Half-Life 2 won’t be a software title that is intimidated by this. Like its desktop counterpart, the Mobility Radeon 9600 has the wits to match even the best offering of NVIDA in this benchmark. Meanwhile, the GeForce FX Go5650, as per Valve’s recommendation, will need to run in a lower codepath (DX8 with lower quality settings) to attain reasonable game play.

Splinter Cell AquaMark 3
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  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 23, 2003 - link

    The Mobility Radeon 9600 with 128MB is available from Compaq/HP.

    MR9600 Pro:

    Mobility FireGL T2:

    So go get yourself one today! Coz I am!

  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 9, 2003 - link

    There are some people around that are developers. I personally use OpenGL for all my CG projects and there is no comparison for OpenGL. Traditionally nvidia used to have the upper hand in OpenGL (my Golden Sample Ti4200 runs better than Radeon 9700). I'm not favouring nvidia or ati. What I need is something that performs under OpenGL and not DX9...

    Dell inspiron 8600 is a great choice, but it comes with 5650 Go. It is reasonably cheap and extremely powerfull. Easy to get (online) or via a university (my case). Although ATI is faster under DX9, it is not supported by the big names (Dell, Toshiba, Compaq...). So if 5650 is even 80% as fast as 9600 under OpenGL, it IS a choice for me... If it is yet again 400% slower... NO

    Please give us some OpenGL numbers!!!

    Even Quake 3 will do, GLExcess, whatever...



    Norwich, UK
  • Andrew Ku - Monday, September 29, 2003 - link

    #43 Well the different results aren't unexpected. You used a different resolution. :)
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 27, 2003 - link

    I'd like to see a couple openGL tests included in the comparison.

  • Anonymous User - Thursday, September 18, 2003 - link

    I get different results!

    I have a Dell Inspiron 8600 with the NVidia 5650 running AquaMark3. I'm using the driver that Dell ships with the 8600 (version I get VASTLY better results on than what's posted in this article. Below, I'm taking my results vs. the article's Radeon numbers:

    Frames per second (FPS)
    My results Results from article
    Chapter Go5650 Go5650 Radeon9600 fps
    1 22.30 11.64 25.97
    2 9.38 4.23 6.68
    3 16.15 8.87 15.00
    4 6.52 5.15 11.27
    5 14.72 9.31 19.93
    6 14.28 8.47 17.96
    7 18.27 9.92 17.08
    8 13.00 6.63 12.56
    9 9.47 4.67 7.93

    I submitted my results to Aquatech's results board under my user name "RonSchaaf" I ran the test multiple times with the same results, running with the Aquatech defaults.

    Big Note: I just double-checked everything and I ran my tests at 1024x768x32, No FSAA, 4x Anisotropy, Maximum Details, with the Driver set to Maximum Quality. But I can't run at 1280x1024 like was done for the article because the Aquatech program won't let me change setting without springing for the "Professional" version.
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, September 17, 2003 - link

    Nice review.
    It is a good idea you tested the DX9 power of the cards and not some driver or game "optimisations"
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 16, 2003 - link

    #34 Said: "Download 51.75 and run the test. Then tell us what you see. What a bunch of CRAP."

    Your right... with Det 51.75 they'd see a bunch of CRAP. Take a look at these image quality results: http://www.gamersdepot.com/hardware/video_cards/at...

    btw, the accoding to nVidia, the det 51.75 isn't ready to be installed on any machine yet. Kind of funny how that didn't stop them from saying it was the only valid version for benching hl 2...
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 16, 2003 - link

    I agree with shalmanese

  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 16, 2003 - link

    I didn't see a mention of the speed of the CPU used.

    Anyone know? (I might have missed it, but it wasn't on the benchmark setup page)

    I know it's a P-M, but at what speed?
  • Shalmanese - Monday, September 15, 2003 - link

    Eh, I thought all in all ,it was a pretty ordinary review, lots of mistakes throughout.

    First of all, your graph numbers are up to 6 significant figures, round them down to even fps or 1 decimal place at the very least.

    While theoretical comparisons laughing at how much the ATI card beat the nVidia card are all very pleasant, some indication for people who may have wanted to BUY these cards, what sort of performance they were in for might be nice as well. This means adding the NV3X and the DX8 codepath figures for HL2 etc. Also, a Go4200 and a Mobility 9000 thrown in might have been good as well but I understand that time may have not been adequate.

    I also noticed that the CPU wasn't listed for the laptop. Is this part of the NDA info? Seems unusual as this is normally given.


    "Mobility Radeon 9600 in North America" should be "THE Mobility..."

    "...between Mobility Radeon 9600..." again, missed a THE ... infact, its all throughout the article.

    " You may have seen other media report benchmark scores that have been called into question. In our time spent benchmarking the two mobile graphics processors, we have yet to be able to recreate a similar scenario."

    huh? you've yet to create a benchmark that has been called into question? What are you trying to say?


    "specifies that the Mobility Radeon 9600 consumes 1.0V while running, and 0.5W in Windows idle." Is that V or W? theres no point telling us what voltage the chip is running at when working. Give us wattage figures.

    pg3: again, you give a V figure.


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