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VGA Charts VI: PCI Express Update Summer 2005

Test Setup

We tested at standard TFT screen resolutions of 1024x768 pixels and 1280x1024 pixels, along with standard quality settings, 4x antialiasing (FSAA) and 8x anisotropic filtering (AF). Additionally, we tested the fastest models with the resolution 1600x1200 pixels. In order to keep the scope of the test within reasonable limits we didn’t benchmark some the slower cards with 4x FSAA and 8x AF, as their performance wasn’t sufficient for this level of quality. Some test runs at frame rates under 25 FPS simply required too much time. In any case, these games would no longer be playable with these cards. During the tests, crashes also occurred.In these cases, the cards were given a score of 0.0 along with an explanatory note.

The driver settings correspond to the manufacturers’ presets. Only V-Sync was deactivated. The drivers forced 4x FSAA and 8x AF if the games did not offer these options in their settings menu. For the SLI tests we additionally set the SLI mode in the driver from single graphics processor mode to "auto". The game Pacific Fighters, which does not run in SLI mode in its standard settings, has profited from this feature. Unreal Tournament 2004, The Chronicles of Riddick and The Sims 2 do not run in SLI mode with the current 71.89 driver version. However, we didn’t create our own SLI profiles, as we feel that it should be up to Nvidia to test the games for SLI suitability.

As a test platform we used an Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe motherboard with Nvidia’s nForce4 SLI chipset, an Athlon 64 4000+ processor and 1024 MB DDR400 of RAM.

The only exception was with Intel’s GMA900 graphics chip, which we tested on a motherboard with the i915G chipset and the Intel Pentium 4 CPU, which gave the results that we would have recorded had we used the faster nForce 4 system. This is because Intel’s GMA900 graphics processor is not fast enough to take advantage of the CPUs used for the other tests. Only the fastest graphic cards are capable of making full use of the system processor’s performance, and then only in low resolutions and quality settings because even today’s fastest CPUs cannot process data fast enough to match the very high-end card processors’ horsepower.

The Test Platforms In Detail

Test System Desktop Cards
CPUAMD Athlon64 4000+
FSB200 MHz
MotherboardASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe (nForce 4 SLI)
Memory2x Corsair CMX-512-3200C2, 1024 MB
HDDSeagate Barracuda 7200.7 120 GB S-ATA (8 MB)
DVDHitachi GD-7000
LANNetgear FA-312
Power SupplyAntec True Control 550W (ATX 1.0)
Test System GMA900
CPUIntel Pentium 4 3.2 GHz
FSB200 MHz
MotherboardMSI 915P/G Neo2
Memory2x Corsair CMX-512-3200C2, 1024 MB
HDDSeagate Barracuda 7200.7 120 GB S-ATA (8 MB)
DVDHitachi GD-7000
LANNetgear FA-312
Power SupplyAntec True Control 550W (ATX 1.0)
Drivers & Configuration
GraphicsATI Catalyst v5.04NVIDIA v71.98Intel 6.14.10.429
ChipsetNVIDIA nForce4 Standalone v6.53
OSWindows XP Prof. SP1a
DirectXDirectX 9.0c
Benchmarks
3DMark 2005Default Benchmark, AA and AF by App
Unreal Tournament 2004Custom TimedemoMax Details/QualityMap : Assault-FallenCityAA and AF forced by Driver
Half-Life 2Max Details/Quality, Reflect WorldDemo : mw_coast01AA and AF by App
Doom3Demo : Demo1High QualityAA and AF by Ap
The ChroniclesOf RiddickCustom Timedemo demointroVery High Quality, PS2.0AA by Driver, AF by App
Pacific Fightersv3.04FRAPSMax Details/QualityDemo : beau_torpAA and AF by App
The Sims2The Caliente FamilyMax Details/QualityAA (Smoothing) by App