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World Of Warcraft: Cataclysm--Tom's Performance Guide

AMD And Nvidia: Anti-Aliasing Performance

Rather than re-test all 24 cards over again with multi-sample anti-aliasing enabled, we picked three boards from each vendor representing what AMD and Nvidia consider generational launches.

In AMD's corner, that gives us the Radeon HD 6870, the Radeon HD 5870, and the Radeon HD 4870. In Nvidia's, we're working with the GeForce GTX 580, the GeForce GTX 480, and the GeForce GTX 280.

At 1680x1050, the 6870 and 5870 are on par with AA disabled. Turning 8x MSAA on gives the 5870 a significant advantage, as AMD's Radeon HD 6870 takes a larger performance hit. Interestingly, the 4870's drop isn't as severe, percentage-wise.

The gap narrows at 1920x1080, though AMD's Radeon HD 5870 maintains its lead with 8x MSAA enabled. Sitting pretty at 60 FPS average, that's exactly where we'd want to run the game if we were using a 24" screen.

A 30" monitor demands a 2560x1600 native resolution, and that probably means choosing between smooth frame rates at Ultra quality settings and no anti-aliasing or 8x MSAA and a compromise on the graphics settings. That's not to say that 42 FPS is unplayable, but remember that there are far more demanding (but less repeatable) situations than traveling from one flight point to another.

The Radeon HD 4870 results show us that owners of card with 512 MB frame buffers won't be able to run high resolutions with anti-aliasing enabled at the same time. You'd need a 1 GB board to better measure that combination.

At 1680x1050, the GeForce GTX 580 and 480 are comparable without anti-aliasing turned on. Dialing up to 8x MSAA, however, gives the 580 a sizable advantage. We're similarly CPU-bottlenecked at 1920x1080 sans AA. Yet again, switching it on gives the 580 its advantage. And although the 580 and 480 don't score exactly the same at 2560x1600 minus AA, there's certainly a far greater gap between the two cards once we switch 8x MSAA on.

If you're using an older GeForce GTX 200-series card, the anti-aliased results should be interesting. At all three resolutions, the 280 is less than half as fast as the GeForce GTX 580.

  • Odem
    Kind of unfortunate to see if I had gone with an i5 750 instead of a 955 I'd be seeing more fps. Although the money I saved for the same frames in most other games leaves me happy.
    Reply
  • WOW only uses 2 cores by default. However youc an configure it to "quasi" use more cores. you have to manually edit your config.wtf and change the variable: SET processAffinityMask "3" (3 is the default meaning 2 cores) to the following values for respective processors:

    i7 Qudcore with Ht- 85
    Any Quadcore chips with no HT - 15
    i5 Quadcore which does not have HT as far as I know - 15
    i5 Dualcore with HT- 5
    Dualcore with HT- 5
    Dualcore without HT - 5
    AMD tricore - 7

    There used to be a blue post explaining the settings and how to calculate it for different cores. But the old forums got wiped.
    Reply
  • sudeshc
    not a that big fan of wow, but still happy to see that they do keep in mind that people also have low end hardware too.
    Reply
  • SpadeM
    I'm impressed, if Chris went to all that trouble to benchmark the new expansion for a mmorpg in such great detail it can me only 2 things:
    1. Chris is a closet WoW-player
    2. Really bored
    With that said, i really do hope to see more of these articles, albeit with a more demanding title on the bench, even if it's from a "lesser" developer/publisher combo.

    PS: I do hope ppl appreciate my sense of humor :P
    Reply
  • dirtmountain
    Damn fine job Mr. Angelini, the most comprehensive hardware guide i've ever seen for WoW. This will save me hours, if not days of time when talking to players about their systems. Much appreciated.
    Reply
  • Bluescreendeath
    The Intel CPU scaling part was lacking...i7 980X at 3.7GHz? For WoW? Really?

    And why only Corei CPUs? Where are all the Core2s? 75% of Intel users still use Core2s and 775s!
    Reply
  • voicu83
    i hate you so much tom's hardware ... now i have to go buy an intel proc instead of my phenom ii x4 :D ... and add a dx11 board on top of it ... oh well, there goes my santa's gift :P
    Reply
  • Moneyloo
    Simply astounded by the time and effort that must have went into this piece. It also makes me greatly look forward to my new Maingear desktop arriving on the 23rd just in time for Christmas. Dual OC gtx580s in sli with a corei7 FTW. Ultra everything here I come!
    Reply
  • cangelini
    SpadeMI'm impressed, if Chris went to all that trouble to benchmark the new expansion for a mmorpg in such great detail it can me only 2 things:1. Chris is a closet WoW-player2. Really boredWith that said, i really do hope to see more of these articles, albeit with a more demanding title on the bench, even if it's from a "lesser" developer/publisher combo. PS: I do hope ppl appreciate my sense of humor
    It's a little easier to talk about WoW since I've been playing it for way too long, but I definitely want to see us doing more comprehensive coverage of demanding titles on launch day. It's all a matter of trying to convince the software guys to give a hardware site early access to the game. That's the hard part :)
    Reply
  • mitch074
    With hardware-accelerated cursor now enabled, OpenGL has finally become usable in WoW; was there any testing done on that? Not only does it sometimes give a boost to Nvidia cards, it's also the 'default' setting for Linux players - incidentally, the ones who were asking for the feature for a while.
    Reply