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VGA Charts: Summer 2007

VGA Charts: Summer 2007
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It's That Time Of Year Again!

There has been a lot of activity since our last VGA charts were published, primarily in the form of a new operating system and DX10 compliant graphics hardware. Gaming preferences and purchasing decisions are still driving the market forward, but the market is moving slower than expected by many analysts. While Vista installations are continuing to rise, the majority of operating systems remains fixed on Windows XP. According to the latest Steam install survey of gamers logged into Steam who have allowed their systems to participate, over 90 percent are still running XP. Also noticeable in the survey results is the fact that while DX10 hardware may have all of the sexy hardware components, less than 2 percent of the install base has a DX10 capable card, while 6 percent of the systems are running Microsoft Vista.

Looking at the cards that most are using, only 52 percent are using graphics cards with a shader model 3.x, while the use of shader model 2.x is at 24 percent. DirectX 8 cards make up 15 percent of the install base and there is even a handful of systems still using DirectX 7 (5 percent).

So what does all of this data point us to? DirectX 10 compliant cards are facing an uphill battle. This is easy to understand as "real" DX10 games are yet to hit the market - the only games to be released thus far are those ported from DX9 and DX9 consoles. Hopefully this trend will accelerate when full featured games like BioShock and Crysis round out the second half of the year.

In our last set of VGA charts we hinted at adding Windows Vista testing, but the installation base does not justify doubling our efforts at this time. The majority of you are still using Windows XP and for the most part, most are still using hardware from two to three years ago. Even gaming system integrators are still installing XP. Three months ago you could only buy a system from Dell Computer with Vista, but after one month the company changed their stance and allowed its XPS customers to buy systems with XP installed. So as to not completely ignore Vista performance, we included testing for a GeForce 8800 GTS 320 MB versus a Radeon HD 2900XT. Perhaps when the need arises we will add the additional content, but at this point in time we will stay primarily with Windows XP.

Test Setup

We have 55 graphics cards in the lineup. Of those cards there are 2 Vista results and 85 individual setups, including AMD/ATI's CrossFire and Nvidia's SLI. Please take care when looking at the charts to see the notations for CF, SLI and Vista. We have 7 game titles and one synthetic to round out the tests.

  • Battlefield 2142
  • Dark Messiah of Might and Magic
  • Doom 3
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator X
  • Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
  • Prey
  • Warhammer: Mark of Chaos
  • 3DMark06

Below are the system settings for all of the configurations.

Hardware
Processor Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800, 2.93 GHz
Motherboard Intel 975X - Intel D975XBX2
Memory Vitesta DDR2 800 4-4-4-12 533 MHz
Graphics Card PCI Express Card
Hard Disk 2 x Hitachi 120 GByte SATA, Cache 8 MByte
Network Intel 1000 Pro
Audio Intel High Definition Audio

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