Note: The High Quality test setting designates benchmark scores for when both 4x AA and 8x AF are enabled.
Lock On: Modern Air Combat was tested using the MiG-29 Intercept demo. For readers interested in doing comparison testing, please check the “How SimHQ Tests” page for exact LOMAC settings used during testing — several features, such as water detail, were lowered to avoid poor frame rates throughout all test settings. The Intercept demo was run until the six minute mark.
With the filtering optimizations disabled, it is interesting to see anisotropic filtering impose a much higher performance penalty than anti-aliasing, roughly 25% compared to AA’s 15%. And once both features were enabled Lock On is playable only at the resolution of 1024×768. For curiosity’s sake, additional testing was done with the game’s graphics set to its in-game of Low, and at 1600×1200 with high quality settings the frame rate jumped up 50% to 23.3 (from 15.2), and to 19 fps at Medium settings.
Microsoft’s Flight Simulator 2004 is a strongly system-limited title that tends to scale better with processor rather than GPU upgrades. SimHQ’s testing consists of an in-house dusk flight over the city of Hong Kong, with an external camera view set from behind the plane. Frame rate recording is stopped once the plane touches down. All game options were set to their highest option, save for Ground Scenery Casts Shadows, which was disabled.
At 1024×768 both AA and AF cost the game roughly 20% of its performance, yet with the frame rate loss sharply rising at the higher resolutions. Anti-aliasing incurred a slightly higher loss for all three tested resolutions, and depending on personal preference for what constitutes “playable” only the two lower resolutions offer usable performance with both features enabled.
The IL-2: Sturmovik Forgotten Battles – Aces Expansion Pack represents SimHQ’s non-modern flight simulation test. Using OpenGL rather than D3D, the landscape option was set to perfect. Testing consisted of using Fraps to record the frame rate during the first two minutes of the Black Death track. The use of this track is a change from previous testing, and the switch was made since the Black Death track simply displays more action than that of the Bf109 Introduction.
Testing with 4x anti-aliasing gave a consistent near 10% performance loss across the tested resolutions. Anisotropic filtering, on the other hand, imposed a surprisingly strong penalty, dropping the frame rates 35% to 50% as the resolutions scaled upward, making the resolution of 1600×1200 unplayable even with a P4 3.4EE CPU. Struck by this performance loss, we reran the 8x AF tests again, this time with both trilinear and anisotropic filtering optimizations enabled in the driver panel. The results were consistently 20% higher, with frame rates of 47.7, 35.5, and 25, respectively; however, these optimizations did result in a noticeable increase in texture aliasing during gameplay, though how much of a concern this may be is, of course, subjective to the end user’s preferences.
The venerable Falcon 4 has received a recent overhaul with the release of SuperPAK 4.1. Testing was conducted using SimHQ’s demo, a low level, air-to-ground dusk mission that consists of two Falcons using Mk20s and Mavericks. The outbound flight route takes the Falcons over the city and into a hot combat zone.
With a game based on such an aging, albeit overhauled, graphics engine, Falcon 4 completely fails to scale with faster graphics subsystems. Even the high quality settings at the highest resolution barely moved the simulation 10% away from is performance at a vanilla 1024×768. Perhaps it is time this title was put to pasture, so to speak, in terms of continued use for hardware testing? Feel free to voice your opinion here in SimHQ’s Hardware Forum.