Now you have an idea of what is in our timedemo, let's take a look at our Test System Setup.
Test System System
Processor(s): AMD Athlon 64 3400+
Motherboard(s): nVidia nForce3 250GB reference (Supplied by nVidia)
Memory(s): 2x 512MB Mushkin DDR-500 (2.5 - 3 - 8 - 3 timings) (Supplied by Mushkin)
Video Card(s): Gigabyte Radeon X800XT PE 256MB (Supplied by Gigabyte)
Hard Disk(s): Western Digital Raptor 36GB 10,000 RPM (Supplied by Western Digital)
Operating System Used: Windows XP Professional XP1
Drivers Used: ATI Catalyst 4.7 and 4.9 BETA (Overdrive disabled) and DX9c
Originally we had good intentions of comparing the GeForce 6800 Ultra against the Radeon X800XT PE but just as we began to benchmark with Doom 3 our reference GeForce 6800 Ultra decided it didn't want to work properly. Despite efforts to get the graphics card working, we had no luck.
Instead we'll be comparing ATI's current official Catalyst 4.7 drivers against the BETA 4.9 drivers which ATI released this week which promises better Doom 3 performance - ATI is providing an early version of CATALYST 4.9 to users interested in increasing performance of Doom 3. These drivers will be officially released in roughly 2 months time after the official 4.8 drivers become available for download this month.
As suggested throughout this guide, we ran the timedemos three times at each resolution and image quality setting and then averaged the scores. We used FRAPS to gather our results as seen on page 6 of this guide. We choose to benchmark with HQ settings as high-end graphics card users will want the best available (Ultra Quality really needs 512MB graphics card for the best experience) IQ and not lower. As mentioned in this guide, High Quality video settings automatically enable 8X AF and then with 4X AA and 8X AF we forced these settings in driver control panel.
Quick FSB Overclocking Performance Investigation
Just before we present you with our benchmark graphs, we want to make note of one important factor. We overclocked our AMD Athlon 64 3400+ processor 100MHz and 200MHz over default via FSB and at both overclocked settings our average FPS at 1024 x 768 0X AA / 8X AF did not increase over one frame per second.
This tells us that Doom 3 is very graphics card dependent and because of this should soon prove to be a popular benchmark in graphics cards review from many review websites. We'll certainly be adding it to our graphics card benchmark suites straight away.
Custom Timedemo Benchmark Results
Alright, now we are ready to check out the benchmarks we took on our test system.
In our first test, you can see that our test system handles 800 x 600 with ease. At this resolution the lowest the frame rate hit was 26 FPS which is workable but thankfully the averages were very high and more than enough to provide a smooth game play experience.
Here we can see that the new Catalyst 4.9 BETA drivers provide around a 13% increase in performance.
At 1024 x 768 again our test system more than handles the task. Here our lowest frame rate got down to 18 FPS which isn't all that pretty but again the average FPS was quite high and again provided a good gaming experience.
Here we see almost an 18% increase in performance with the new ATI BETA drivers.
In our final test at 1600 x 1200 the average FPS is a little lower. Even with 4X AA and 8X AF image quality settings, we have enough average frames per second to provide a fairly solid gaming experience. We did get down into single digit frame rates for the minimum which was not pretty.
As with the 800 x 600 resolution, we see around about a 13% increase in performance from the new drivers. Overall we have about a 15% increase in performance which is quite good and will help ATI take back a little ground against nVidia and their flagship 6800 Ultra which performs really well under Doom 3.
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