ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 and NVIDIA GeForce FX Go5650: Taking on DX9by Andrew Ku on September 14, 2003 11:04 PM EST
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Half-Life 2We 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.