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VGA Charts VIII: PCI Express Winter 2005

Test Setup

Desktop
CPUAMD Athlon 64 FX-57 2800 MHz
FSB200 MHz
MotherboardASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe nForce4 SLI X16
Memory2x Corsair 1024 MB CMX1024-3500LLPRO
Hard DriveHitachi120 GB S-ATA (8 MB)
DVDGigabyte GO-D1600C
LANMarvel 88E8053 PCI-E Gigabit
Power SupplyEnermax 550W (ATX 1.0)
Driver & Configuration
GraphicsATI Catalyst 5.10NVIDIA 81.85
ChipsetNVIDIA nForce4 v6.66
OSWindows XP Prof. SP1a
DirectXVersion 9.0c
NvidiaAnti Aliasing (AA) and Anisotropic Filtering (AF)
ATIAA by application, AF if possible by application otherwise by graphics driver
Benchmarks
Age of Empire 3Fraps/Custom RecordgameMax Details/Quality
Fable - The Lost ChaptersFraps/Custom SavegameMax Details/Quality
Quake 4Custom THG-TimedemoUltra Quality
Serious Sam 2Timedemo Shield Generator28Max Details/Quality/32-Bit
Blach & White 2Fraps/Intro Flyby InselMax Details/Quality
F.E.A.R.F.E.A.R. BenchmarkMax Details/Quality
3DMark 2005 1.2.0Default Benchmark

Compatibility Of Graphics Processors With The Benchmark Games

The performance of graphics cards that support PixelShader 2 can’t be compared directly to that of those using PixelShader 3. If a game like Age of Empires III or Black & White 2 supports the higher shader version, it will utilize it to render more complex effects. In other words, cards with a lower shader version display fewer effects -all the while resulting in higher performance due to the lower computing load. The same holds true for shadow effects. For example, ATI’s driver automatically disables soft shadows in F.E.A.R. starting at 1280 x 960 pixels, giving the cards a performance boost. With older ATI hardware, shadow details have to be disabled completely in Fable - The Lost Chapters, or the game will automatically revert to 640 x 480.

There are also measurable differences in HDR rendering speed. Activating this visual enhancement in Serious Sam 2 can result in a performance drop between 14% and 70% depending on the graphics processor. To ensure that all results remain comparable, we tested all graphics cards according to their compatibility and grouped them into the result charts accordingly.

NVIDIA Compatibility with Benchmark Games
Graphics cardAge of Empire 3Fable - The Lost ChaptersQuake 4Serious Sam 2Black & White 2F.E.A.R.
Geforce 7800 GTX SLI100%100%100%100%100%100%
Geforce 7800 GTX Extreme100%100%100%100%100%100%
Geforce 7800 GTX100%100%100%100%100%100%
Geforce 7800 GT100%100%100%100%100%100%
Geforce 6800 Ultra SLI100%100%100%100%100%100%
Geforce 6800 Ultra100%100%100%100%100%100%
Geforce 6800 GT SLI100%100%100%100%100%100%
Geforce 6800 GT100%100%100%100%100%100%
Geforce 6800100%100%100%100%100%100%
Geforce 6600 GT SLI100%shadow detail deactivated from 1024x768, 1600x1200 because 128 MB not possible100%100%AA deactivated from 1024x768 due to 128 MB100%
Geforce 6600 GT100%shadow detail deactivated from 1024x768, 1600x1200 because 128 MB not possible100%100%AA deactivated from 1024x768 due to 128 MB100%
Geforce 6600100%shadow detail deactivated from 1024x768, 1600x1200 because 128 MB not possible100%100%AA deactivated from 1024x768 due to 128 MB100%
Geforce 6200 Turbo CacheShader Quality High, Very High not possible100%100%no HDR renderingBlooming, depth of focus and distortion not possible100%
Geforce 5900Shader Quality High, Very High not possileshadow detail deactivated from 1280x1024, 1600x1200 because 128 MB not possible100%no HDR renderingBlooming, depth of focus and distortion not possible100%
ATI Compatibility with Benchmark Games
Graphics cardAge of Empire 3Fable - The Lost ChaptersQuake 4Serious Sam 2Black & White 2F.E.A.R.
Radeon X1800 XT100%100%100%100%100%Soft Shadows deactivated from 1280x960
Radeon X1800 XL100%100%100%100%100%Soft Shadows deactivated from 1280x960
Radeon X1300 Pro100%100%100%100%graphics sometimes hang at 1024x768 AA2 AF4Soft Shadows deactivated from 1280x960
Radeon X850 XT PEShader Quality High, Very High not possibleshadow details must be deactivated100%no HDR rendering100%Soft Shadows deactivated from 1280x960
Radeon X800 XTShader Quality High, Very High not possibleshadow details must be deactivated100%no HDR rendering100%Soft Shadows deactivated from 1280x960
Radeon X800 XLShader Quality High, Very High not possibleshadow details must be deactivated100%no HDR rendering100%Soft Shadows deactivated from 1280x960
Radeon X800 XLShader Quality High, Very High not possibleshadow details must be deactivated100%no HDR rendering100%Soft Shadows deactivated from 1280x960
Radeon X700 XTShader Quality High, Very High not possibleshadow details must be deactivated100%no HDR rendering100%Soft Shadows deactivated from 1280x960
Radeon X700 ProShader Quality High, Very High not possibleshadow details must be deactivated100%no HDR rendering100%Soft Shadows deactivated from 1280x960
Radeon X600 XTShader Quality High, Very High not possibleshadow details must be deactivated100%no HDR rendering100%Soft Shadows deactivated from 1280x960
Radeon X600 ProShader Quality High, Very High not possibleshadow details must be deactivated100%no HDR rendering100%Soft Shadows deactivated from 1280x960