ATI Radeon X1800 XT CrossFire Evaluation
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
|Based on a heavily modified version of the Unreal Engine, enhanced with a slew of DX9 shaders, lighting and mapping effects, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory is gorgeous with its very immersive, albeit dark, environment. The game engine has a shader model 3.0 code path that allows the GeForce 6 & 7 Series of cards, and the new X1000 family of cards, to really shine, and a recent patch has implemented a shader model 2.0 path for ATI's X8x0 generation of graphics hardware. For these tests we enabled the SM 3.0 path on all of the cards we tested. However, High Dynamic Range rendering was disabled so that we could test the game with anti-aliasing enabled. We benchmarked the game at resolutions of 1,280 x 1024 and 1,600 x 1,200, both with and without anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering.|
As expected, the dual-card configurations smoked all of the single-card configurations in the Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory benchmark. Here, a pair of 512MB GeForce 7800 GTX cards was top-dog at both resolutions, followed by either the X1800 XT CrossFire rig or the 256MB GeForce 7800 GTX SLI rig depending on the test settings. The pair of 256MB GeForce cards performed better than the X1800 XTs when no addition pixel processing was used, but the X1800 XT's running in CrossFire mode performed better when anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering was enabled. The Radeon X1800 XL CrossFire configuration performed well also, but was outpaced by every other dual-GPU configuration.
We should also note that Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory was not completely stable while testing it on CrossFire. We didn't keep a log of errors, but this game crashed on the CrossFire rig at least once out of every 6-8 benchmark runs. After crashing, the game's option were reset to their defaults and Catalyst Control Center wouldn't open without a re-boot. After re-setting all of the in-game options and verifying the drivers were correctly configured, we were able to continue testing though, so hopefully this is just a sign of driver immaturity that'll be worked out with "retail-ready" product.