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Last month we started providing more details on what the frame rates are like during our tests, because of the many readers who were interested in knowing about this. There are dynamic shifts in the workload placed upon the system inside games. For example, one second there could be a series of tight corridors and sharp turns; these segments have very few shapes and textures to render, and therefore the cards and system are not taxed. However, then you might move through that series of hallways into a large room with fire, smoke, enemy characters and gunfire, and find that the system goes from 130 frames per second down to 40 or less. Anything below 30 frames is considered slow, as your eyes should see the screen stutter. Conversely, the eye cannot really differentiate between frame rates above about 60-70, so anything above those figures doesn't really add to the quality of the gaming experience. That is when we encourage users to start turning on quality features to enhance their gaming experience.
For this series of tests, we used the benchmarking tool FRAPS to record the average frames per second for each second of Black & White 2 and F.E.A.R.: First Encounter Assault Recon. We can't use this for all of the benchmarks, though, as some record differently than others. The problem is that the slower the system is, the longer it will take to complete the test. Under FRAPS, if one demo takes longer to finish than another, the slower system will have more data points recorded. For this reason, we could not use a game like Half-Life 2, as systems will have data sets that do not line up well as to make valid comparisons.
For Black & White, we use all of the features turned on except distortion. The first data set has antialiasing turned off at a resolution of 1024x768, while the second has AA turned on at a resolution of 1600x1200. For each of the tests we display the 30 frames per second boundary with a red line.