More Than A SoundBlaster

Quake 3

In our Quake III performance tests, we looked at what kind of performance each sound card had with the sound turned on. We looked at both the impact of just adding sound to the system when running Quake III, as well as the impact of turning on the 3D sound. To establish a base line to work from, we imaged our test system without a sound card installed and ran the standard demo001 tests using the 1.16 release of Quake III. As many of you know from Tom's past review of the Gainward GeForce2, this card is quite able to be over clocked, but for this test, we left the Gainward GeForce2 Pro/450 64 MB DDR at its default setting of 200 MHz core and 400 MHz memory. We used the Nvidia Detonator 3 reference drivers for Windows 98 for our testing.

The demos were run in using the standard Quake III settings in the 1024x768 resolution using the 32bit color setting. For reference purposes, when running the benchmark with no sound card installed, the system ran at 135.7 frames per second. With the sound card installed, no sound card was able to beat our base line score of 135.7 frames per second. When the 3D sound mode was engaged, the frames per second took another performance hit, but on some cards, not as much as one might expect. When looking at the performance graphs, scores closest to our base line score of 135.7 are better.

I realized after running these demos and collecting this testing data that in later patch point releases of Quake III, that id Software, the publisher of Quake III, has removed the 3D audio support. Although I never experienced any problems during my testing, from what I have been told, previous problems with the 3D audio support caused id Software to remove it. Since we didn't experience any problems, I felt it was important to include the testing data because it offers a good look at performance with a solid frame of reference from other tests we have done in the past. However, I still was not satisfied with the results - so enter UTBench.