In-depth methods of benchmarking Doom 3
You've now learnt how to create a timedemo in Doom 3 and measure the performance of your system - that was the easy part. From now on, things get more technical, so read carefully. There are a few issues with Doom 3 benchmarking that we must address then we will talk more about the in-depth benchmarking methods available to us.
- 60 FPS internal lock
While reading through initial online Doom 3 benchmarks before the game was released, it became obvious that the game included an "internal tick" or FPS lock of 60 FPS which was failed to be mentioned. This means that when you play Doom 3, the most FPS you'll ever obtain is 60 FPS no matter what hardware you are using.
As far as we can gather from our talks with ATI and nVidia over the past few days (ID did not respond to us), the 60 FPS lock is in place to create a smoother gaming experience by having a better chance at producing more consistent frame rates. John Carmack, the head-honcho developer at ID Software suggests another reason:
"The game tic simulation, including player movement, runs at 60hz, so if it rendered any faster, it would just be rendering identical frames. A fixed tic rate removes issues like Quake 3 had, where some jumps could only be made at certain framerates. In Doom, the same player inputs will produce the same motions, no matter what the framerate is."
Some are calling it an "anti-cheat device" around the forums but we aren't here to decide the good and bad reasons for including the lock - the fact is, it's there and at this stage it cannot be removed.
From a real-world standpoint, it is important people are aware of the 60 FPS lock when it comes to benchmarking with Doom 3. If we cannot play Doom 3 above 60 FPS, why should any score over this be considered important? That's one of the questions which plagued our minds for the past few days. Even with the 60 FPS lock, we consider scores over this important as Doom 3 is a good graphics card benchmark (as you will soon see in our own benchmarks, CPU doesn't play much of a roll) and scores over 60 FPS will provide a good way of telling how your system will perform as you ramp up Image Quality settings such as AA and AF.
The important thing to remember is that at this stage, until ID Software let us know how to disable the FPS lock or release a patch to do so (and that's IF they do either!), your maximum game play FPS in Doom 3 is 60 FPS. At the end of the day I would have preferred an option to disable the FPS lock as choice is always good but ID obviously decided otherwise.
The good news is that when you initiate a timedemo in Doom 3, the FPS cap is non-existent and you are able to measure performance just like any uncapped game which means Doom 3 can be used as a true benchmark for review websites and gamers. Initially we thought that you wouldn't be able to but the simple idea of a timedemo is to time the demo and it does exactly just that.
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