Doom 3 Performance

While the Doom 3 frenzy isn't nearly as bad as it was a month ago, the performance seen under id's latest engine is quite important as there are a number of games in development right now using the Doom 3 engine. We have two sets of benchmarks here to look at - playable resolution benchmarks, as well as a chart of performance vs. resolution to see how the cards compare at sometimes not-so-playable resolutions.

Since we're dealing with relatively entry-level cards, we found that the perfect balance between frame rate and image quality lands at 800x600, and thus, that's where our first graph comes from.

Here, we see that the GeForce 6600, despite its lower fill rate and lower memory bandwidth, is still able to outperform the regular X700 by about 8%. It's not a huge margin, but impressive considering that the card is underpowered compared to the X700. The explanation as to "why" is more of an architectural discussion, as we've seen that NVIDIA's GeForce 6 series of GPUs are much better suited for the Doom 3 engine than ATI's.

The GeForce 6200 comes in a valiant third, clearly outperforming the 4-pipe competitors from ATI and nipping away at the heels of the slightly more expensive X700. Here's the tricky part though. Depending on what price the 6200 and X700 are actually available for when they hit the streets, the recommendation could go either way. At the same price, the X700 is the clear winner here, but at a higher price, the decision becomes more of a question of budget rather than which one to pick.

Doom 3 - Demo1

Next, we have the resolution scaling chart to see how all of these cards fair in the grander scheme of things. Here, we see that none of the cards are particularly CPU limited under Doom 3 and all of them experience a serious drop in performance as you increase the resolution. Doom 3 is clearly taxing enough for even the fastest of contenders here.



What about playability? We took some notes during our testing of the cards and will share them here as to what our gaming experiences were with all of the cards in a section we like to call "Notes from the Lab".

ATI X300: The card is clearly slower than the 6200. The added memory bandwidth gives it a performance advantage over the 64-bit SE, but it's nowhere near in the same league as the 6200. ATI desperately needs to have an X800 derived part for their low-end, much like they have in the mid-range with the X700.

ATI X300SE: The game plays "OK" at 640x480, definitely sluggish in certain areas. The aliasing is particularly bad at 640, so the resolution only really works if you have a small monitor or if the person playing isn't much of a gamer at all and has never been introduced to the fact that you can get rid of aliasing. At 800x600, things just get too slow for comfort and beyond that is basically unplayable.

ATI X600 Pro: You can't notice any visual quality differences between ATI and NVIDIA when it comes to Doom3, not to mention that the game is frankly too dark to notice any differences in texture filtering to begin with. 640x480 and 800x600 play quite well on the X600, despite the fact that the frame rate is clearly lower than the two NVIDIA cards. Unfortunately, anything above 800x600 is a bit too slow on the X600 Pro. It's "playable", but honestly, just frustratingly slow compared to the other cards.

ATI X700: The X700 performs clearly better than the X600 Pro and close to the 6600, but the 6600 is clearly faster in actual gameplay.

NVIDIA GeForce 6200: 800x600 seems to be a sweet spot of image quality to performance ratio for the 6200. The game played very smooth with no noticeable image quality issues. 1024x768 looked better, but started to get a little slow for our tastes. 1280x1024 was far too slow, although it looked great. If you want to go up to 1280, you're going to want to go for a 6600 at least.

NVIDIA GeForce 6600: At 800x600, the 6600 completely blows away the 6200; it makes the 6200 feel like a slow card. 1024x768 is still sluggish in places, but overall, much better than the 6200. 1280x1024 is fine when just walking around, but once you get enemies on the screen and they start attacking you, things slow down. It may be that it takes the 6600GT to truly be smooth at this resolution. That being said, it continues to amaze us about how good lower resolutions look in Doom 3.

Intel Integrated Graphics: Surprisingly enough, Intel's integrated graphics will actually run Doom3, but it is basically unplayable at medium quality at 640x480 - not to mention that we couldn't get it to complete a single benchmark run (the driver kept on crashing).

The Test Half Life 2 (Source) Visual Stress Test
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  • nvdm24 - Sunday, December 19, 2004 - link

    Many of the readers of these tech sites want to know the full capabilities of the cards, yet, sadly, reviewers at anandtech and every other tech site ignore the video capabilities of video cards. Even in the reviews for the new 6600 agp, the video aspect has not been tested by any reviewer despite the problems of the 6800. Never mind the fact that EVERY review of these cards is about the 3d aspect and is nearly the exact same - run halo, doom 3, hl 2, etc. and list the performance, yet no tests of dvd movies or the video aspect are conducted, thus doing a HUGE disservice to readers. Reply
  • nserra - Thursday, December 16, 2004 - link

    I dont understand why on you previous 6200 review the X300 wins, loses (Doom3), and keep up, but now a much worst 6200 wins over X300. How the hell did that hapen, new nvidia drivers? Reply
  • nserra - Thursday, December 16, 2004 - link

    I dont understand why on you previous 6200 review the X300 wins, loses (Doom3), and keep up, but now a much worst 6200 wins over X300. How the hell did that hapen, new nvidia drivers? Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Thursday, October 14, 2004 - link

    Surprisingly, my 865G with Intel Extreme Graphics 2 can run Doom 3 beta at default, it still crashes, but when I run it, I get barely playable frames, I say around 20 at the highest and less than 10. I think the GMA900 should be much better, but maybe the DX9 support in it really sucks. Reply
  • nserra - Wednesday, October 13, 2004 - link

    #39 Thanks to the answer, but...

    Doesnt 2 cards cost more then one?
    And whats the difference between having two 6600GT vs 6800GT? in price and performance?

    I think this kind of "edge" could come in the future like the voodoo2 did, the card was getting old, people getting rid of it and "some" get them cheap just to keep their PC the longger time they could.
    Reply
  • Confusednewbie1552 - Tuesday, October 12, 2004 - link

    #30

    Everyone wants 660GT because they are cheap and two of them can be put into SLI mode (once Nforce 4 comes out) which could mean better performance than the X700, and maybe even the X800.
    Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Tuesday, October 12, 2004 - link

    I'm sure the core of the 6600 will overclock very well, but the memory all depends on the particular chips used and might not have any real headroom. That could be its main problem as its an 8-pipe 300MHz core so theres plenty of power there, but only 128-bit 500MHz (effective) memory which is what is probably holding it back. If thats the case then overclocking the core may not help very much.

    Its a pity no attempt to overclock was performed in the review, but then again the results from overclocking cards sent out by the manufacturer are always suspect as they could have hand-picked the best.
    Reply
  • thebluesgnr - Tuesday, October 12, 2004 - link

    " I can't see how the 6200 could have a street-price of $149 (128-bit) and $129 (64-bit). "

    It's actually $129 for the 128MB 128-bit version and $149 for the 256MB 128-bit version. The 64-bit version (only 128MB) should have an MSRP of $100, according to the Inquirer.

    So nVidia has:
    $100 6200 128MB 64-bit
    $130 6200 128MB 128-bit
    $150 6200 256MB 128-bit
    $150 6600 128MB 128-bit
    $200 6600GT 128MB 128-bit

    In my opinion ATI beats all nVidia cards except for their $200, where the 6600GT wins. But we can't forget the 6600 has a great overclocking potential, and street prices should be lower than the X700's, because of the slower memory.
    Like already mentioned, you can find the 6600 for $135 already.
    Reply
  • mkruer - Tuesday, October 12, 2004 - link

    To X700 XT or to 9800 Pro, that is the question Reply
  • neo229 - Tuesday, October 12, 2004 - link

    I also wish to thank you for keeping up the fight to unravel the mystery behind the mysterious video processor. That notion of that feature really got me excited when I first heard about it, yet site after site after site reviewed these cards without even touching on the subject. Reply

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