Far Cry benchmark numbers are generated by repeated playing of the Research map, which consists of an good mix of beach, jungle, and interior settings found throughout the game’s various levels. Fraps is used to record performance as the same path is taken through the map during each test. Both anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering were enabled via the Catalyst Control Center and all in-game options were configured for their highest settings (water at ultra high).
Far Cry is the most graphically demanding game in SimHQ’s benchmark suite, and is the only title tested that makes use of DX9 shaders. As such, it certainly allows the X800 XT to shine, as the above scores indicate, pushing into 3-digit frame rates at 1024×768. With anti-aliasing enabled, the performance loss scales from roughly 15-30%, while anisotropic filtering is even lower, roughly 5-15%. Even high quality offers playable frame rates at 1600×1200, at which point the game is rendering some of the best visuals currently available for PC gaming.
Developed using id Software’s five-year-old Quake 3 engine, Call of Duty is the second title SimHQ uses testing OpenGL rather than the D3D API. Scores were derived from the Dawnville demo using the in-game timedemo utility to capture performance. The “com_maxfps” console command was also used to lift the default frame rate cap of 85.
Based on an aging engine, Call of Duty isn’t particularly graphics intensive, though the title still looks good once AA and AF are enabled. Both features incur very similar performance losses, and the game stays in the realm of triple digit frame rates even at 1600×1200 with high quality settings.
NASCAR Racing 2003 Season was tested using SimHQ’s in-house replay, which consists of a crowded Daytona track with the camera view set to Earnhardt’s cockpit. All graphics options were placed at their highest settings.
This driving simulation obviously scales far closer to system rather than graphics processing power, essentially locking itself at 35-38 fps across all tested resolutions and settings. And with shadows enabled, NASCAR performs much slower in these tests compared to scores from SimHQ’s CPU articles which test without shadows.
Last, SimHQ has decided to include scores from Valve’s Video Stress Test, a utility now included with the new Source engine-based version of Counter-Strike. The update of the popular online shooter is currently available only via Valve’s distribution package, Steam, but will be bundled with Half Life 2 once the game reaches store shelves. The Video Stress test itself is a fly-by of a relatively small custom level and is designed to show off numerous graphical effects rendered through the heavy use of various shaders.
It’s interesting to note that the Video Stress test loses more performance from the fill-rate demands of higher resolutions than it does from either AA or AF. Anti-aliasing costs the test slightly more at higher resolutions than anisotropic filtering, roughly 5-20% across the resolutions. At high quality the frame rate is cut by some 45% across the resolutions, though if the test represents a game’s final performance based on the Source engine, 74 fps at 1600×1200 with 4x AA and 8x AF is hardly a negligible score.