AGP Platform Analysis, Part 1: New Cards, Old System

Elder Scrolls: Oblivion

Finally, we're going to examine one of the most demanding and graphically gorgeous titles of our time, Elder Scrolls: Oblivion.

Right out of the gate, even at 1024x768, we see that the X1950 PROs can flex their impressive pixel shader power in this title. The 7600 GT and 7800 GS are once again neck and neck. The biggest surprise is the 9700 PRO, which for the first time delivers performance relatively close to that of the newer Geforce cards.

When we kick the resolution up a notch to 1280x1024, we see some interesting results: no difference in the frame rates of the newer cards. This would lead us to hypothesize that Oblivion is not only CPU bound, but perhaps architecture bound as well: it favors the way Radeon cards process shaders. Let's see what happens when we enable HDR lighting:

Wow. The X1950 PRO cards don't even budge, and maintain the same frame rates with HDR enabled. Obviously there is some serious CPU bottlenecking going on here.

The Geforce cards remain neck and neck, but lose a tiny bit of ground to the X1950 PROs with HDR enabled.

The 9700 PRO is not capable of the method of HDR used in Oblivion, so it is not included in these results.