Half-Life 2: Episode One Performance

Episode One of the new Half-Life 2 series makes use of recent Source engine updates to include Valve's HDR technology. While some people have done HDR that won't allow antialiasing (even on ATI cards), Valve put a high value on building an HDR implementation that everyone can use with whatever settings they want. Consistency of experience is usually not important enough to developers who care about pushing the bleeding edge of technology, so we are very happy to see Valve going down this path.

We use the built-in timedemo feature to benchmark the game. Our timedemo consists of a protracted rocket launcher fight and features much debris and pyrotechnics. The Source engine timedemo feature is more like the nettimedemo of Id's Doom 3 engine, in that it plays back more than just the graphics. In fact, Valve includes some fairly intensive diagnostic tools that will reveal almost everything about every object in a scene. We haven't found a good use for this in the context of reviewing computer hardware, but our options are always open.

The highest visual quality settings possible were used including the "reflect all" setting which is normally not enabled by default, and anisotropic filtering was set at 8x. While the Source engine is notorious for giving great framerates for almost any hardware setup, we find the game isn't as enjoyable if it isn't running at at least 30fps. This is very attainable even at the highest resolution we tested on most cards, and thus our target framerate is a little higher in this game than others.

Half Life 2: Episode 1 Performance


Half-Life 2 Performance is rather uneventful, as all of these cards are completely playable at the very highest settings all the way up to our highest resolution tested. Frame rates will fluctuate throughout the game, but for now at least Half-Life 2 games run without difficulty on all the midrange and faster GPU configurations. It is interesting to note that the 256MB X1900 XT has about a 6% advantage over the 7950 GT throughout our Half-Life 2 testing with AA turned off.

Half Life 2: Episode 1 Performance


Even with 4xAA, everything remains easily playable. Like our sans AA testing, the X1900 XT 256MB outperforms the new 7950 GT across the board. Multi-GPU configurations are not necessary at all under Half-Life 2 without the use of a huge display.

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  • pmcguire - Thursday, September 21, 2006 - link

    Anyone tried the XFX card in a Zalman HD160 case?
    I have ordered one but now I am getting nervous that the heatsink is too high.

    Reply
  • zemane - Saturday, September 16, 2006 - link


    quote:

    Today also marks the day that ATI slated for the availability of their X1300 XT, X1650 Pro, X1900 XT 256MB, and X1950 series. We currently see very limited availability of the X1950 XTX, X1900 XT 256MB and X1300 XT cards, ...


    Reply
  • marine73 - Friday, September 15, 2006 - link

    With some versions of the 7900GT costing $280, you'd have to be nuts not to spend the xtra $20 bucks to get the additional 256Mb of ram. The performance increase is obvious from the charts, and since most Nvidia cores do OC fairly well (my BFG is running 580/800) you could most likely get the 7950GT to peform like a 7900GTX, for about 150-200 bucks less. Now if only they can get them to be DirectX 10 compliant... Reply
  • Pastuch - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - link

    In Canada you can buy an ATI/Saphire X1900xt 512mb for $299. A 7950GT goes for $350. These prices are pulled from this weeks flyer at NCIX.com, the Canadian Newegg.

    As always, Nvidia screws over Canadian customers.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    Gee, lets see, I wonder if buying a graphics card that is currently based in my home country is cheaper than one that has to be imported . . .

    Wait until ATI moves to the US . . .
    Reply
  • Pastuch - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - link

    THe lowest price I can find in Canada on a 7900GT is $290.

    ROFL at Nvidia.

    P.S. I actually would rather buy Nvidia but the prices up here are so out of whack I can't justify it.
    Reply
  • coldpower27 - Friday, September 15, 2006 - link

    Yeh, Nvidia currently is expensive in Canada, until prices normalize the X1900 XT 512 is a pretty good deal, as long as it remains in supply. Reply
  • xsilver - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - link

    funny,
    down here in australia - its the other way around
    nvidia is cheaper
    7900gt = 374au ($280US approx
    x1900xt = 410AU (308US approx)

    ati is still the better buy because its faster.
    it actually gets worse in the lower price bracket of x1900gt as they are quite hard to find and really expensive
    Reply
  • xsilver - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - link

    oh wait - just looked again
    that x1900xt is the 256mb model
    if u want the 512mb model
    = 525au (395US)

    7950gt 512mb = $430au = 325us

    big difference!
    Reply
  • splines - Friday, September 15, 2006 - link

    Same with all electronics, pretty much. Everything from mobile phones up to the AUD$1000 PS3 - and Americans complain about $600?

    The really odd thing is we have the second highest standard of living in the world, yet our currency is also one of the most undervalued amongst western industrialised nations. Granted, our market is small, but 20-odd million people still have a lot of purchasing power.

    *sighs* Maybe one day they'll take us seriously.
    Reply

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