Squeezing Value Out of Lower-End Cards


F.E.A.R. is one of the newest and meanest games to hit the street. This state-of-the-art first-person shooter demands a lot from the graphics processor and pushes its pixel shaders to the edge. The level of detail can be set anywhere from rather drab and boring graphics to shiny titillating eye candy with many highly reflective surfaces. When maximum quality is selected, most graphics cards can be crippled to the point that the screen can look like a fast slide presentation. F.E.A.R. is capable of rendering soft shadows but at a large performance hit. We set all effects to maximum and turned off soft shadows for the first run and enabled it on the second runs.

As stated above, F.E.A.R. is a mean game to graphics cards and the three under the microscope in this article get beat up badly. The only truly playable cards for F.E.A.R were the GTO / XL and the NVIDIA GeForce 6600 but with sever limitations. At a resolution of 1024 x 768 with no antialiasing or anisotropic filtering the ATI had 100% of all its frames rates were above 25 fps with 81% over 40 fps while the 6600 had 9% of its frames below 25 fps. The X1300 Pro had 40% of its frames below 25 fps at the same level. With soft shadows enabled, all of these cards are crippled by the extra workload.

Soft Shadows Disabled

Soft Shadows Enabled