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Game Benchmarks: Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box

Radeon HD 4850 Vs. GeForce GTS 250: Non-Reference Battle
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Let’s move on to this great racing game, and while it has only recently become available to PC users, it runs on an absolutely gorgeous graphics engine.

First, we’ll try the highest in-game settings, except we’ll disable screen space ambient occlusion (SSAO). We’ll even add 8xAA to the mix, because Burnout Paradise doesn’t seem to have an option to turn off vsync. The high level of anti-aliasing should make it a little more challenging for the frame rates to reach the Vsync limitation of 60 Hz:

Well, it looks like even 8xAA couldn’t pull the pack apart, with incredibly smooth frame rates limited only by vsync. We’re going to have to rely on the SSAO option to really tax these cards and show us a meaningful spread. SSAO isn’t a common option in PC games and has been pioneered by next-generation graphics engines like the one in Crysis. What it does is keep simulated ambient light from shining in places where it should be darker and in doing so adds a lot more realism to the lighting model. On the downside, it’s a very shader-intensive feature, so since we’re turning on SSAO, we’ll also lower the anti-aliasing to 4xAA to help the cards cope:

SSAO is definitely a differentiator between our two competitors. This visual enhancement feature in Burnout clearly has an affinity for the Radeon HD 4850 architecture, and perhaps this is linked to the Radeon’s DirectX 10.1 ability versus the GeForce GTS 250’s DirectX 10 specification. We’ll dig into this in a review later this month.

Unfortunately, it’s somewhat of a pyrrhic victory for the Radeon HD 4850 for two reasons: first, it slows the frame rates down so much that it’s not all that playable except at the lowest resolutions. Secondly, enabling the SSAO option seemed to cause some distracting blur artifacts on telephone and power lines in the game, regardless of the graphics card used. In any case, it provides some interesting food for thought, as SSAO will likely be used more commonly as time goes on.

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