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Can Ageia's PhysX Card Bring Real-World Physics to Games?

Installing The PhysX Card, Continued

The older versions of the PhysX engine remain installed in the system and are displayed in the driver's information section.

The card's small fan, which is lit by blue LEDs, is barely audible during normal operation. Since the card is built like an AGP card, the components and its fan are turned downward in the case once installed. In our second test setup, the Ageia card was mounted vertically, producing an unpleasant whir from the fan.

Performance And Power Consumption

Of course, the big question is whether the Ageia card really does unburden the CPU from the physics calculations. The answer here is both yes and no. With a PhysX card installed, more details are visible in Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. These additional details are calculated by the PPU and don't create more load for the CPU. However, the downside is that these added effects also have to be rendered by the graphics card, which taxes performance, albeit marginally. In short, more details equal lower frame rates. We ran the performance test on two platforms to determine what kind of impact, either positive or negative, physics acceleration has on overall performance. In both cases, we saw only a minor performance hit.

Performance test Ageia PhysX card with Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (1024x768, max.)

Intel 2.4 GHz, GeForce 6800 GTAverageMinimumMaximum
With PhysX Card17.3 fps11 fps20 fps
Without PhysX Card17.7 fps14 fps20 fps
Intel Dual Core 3.1 GHz, Radeon 1900 XTXAverageMinimumMaximum
With PhysX Card55.7 fps42 fps67 fps
Without PhysX-Card58.3 fps49 fps67 fps

We measured the card's power consumption in the more powerful system based on the dual-core Intel processor and the Radeon X1900 XTX. The card increases the system's overall power consumption by 40 watts. These measurements represent peak values.

Power Consumption of Ageia's PhysX Card

Intel Dual Core 3.1 GHz, Radeon 1900 XTX2D-Windows3D-Action
With PhysX Card185 watts390 watts
Without PhysX Card146 watts350 watts