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ATi and NVIDIA PCI Express Graphics Tests - Far Cry and UT2004

 

To give you a better feel for what PCI Express Graphics will offer in the short term, we'll provide some quick high end gaming metrics for you with our two PCI Express based accelerators from NVIDIA and ATi.  Again, ATi's solution here is more of a mainstream value offering targeted in the $150 - $180 price range and the GeForce 6800 GT based card should price in around $399.

Preliminary PCI Express Graphics Performance With Unreal Tournament 2004
Epic's Next Smash Hit!

Unreal Tournament 2K4
Epic's "Unreal" games have been wildly popular, ever since the original Unreal was released in the late '90s. Unreal, Unreal Tournament, and then Unreal Tournament 2003, rapidly became some of our favorites, for both benchmarking, and for killing a few hours when our schedules allowed it! Epic recently released the latest addition to the franchise, Unreal Tournament 2004. We used the full version of the game to benchmark these cards at a resolution of 1280x1024 with 4X AA and 8X anisotropic filtering.

NVIDIA's NV45 based GeForce 6800 GT, provides a native PCI Express interface to its GPU core.  We've compared scores here for you versus an AGP based version of the GeForce 6800 GT.  As you can see, in high end gaming scenarios with AA and aniso at high res, PCI Express currently affords a slight performance advantage but the net result is negligible.

In the case of the Radeon X600 XT and the Radeon 9600 XT testing, we had to dial the Radeon 9600 XTs memory up to meet the level of ATi's new PCI Express X600 XT version.  The graphics cores are essentially the same, with the noted exception of the X600's PCI Express interface and the Radeon 9600's AGP bus. So, in the final analysis we have as close to an apples to apples comparison, AGP versus PCI Express.  As you can see, for now the benefits are not obvious for the new higher bandwidth serial graphics interface.  It may be sometime down the road before we see graphics hardware and game development that will fully exploit this new higher bandwidth architecture.

 

Preliminary PCI Express Graphics Performance With Far Cry
Destined to be a classic - DX9 effects galore - Filling the Doom 3 and Half Life 2 gap, for now...

Far Cry
It almost goes without saying that Far Cry is easily the most impressive game and game engine to be released on the PC this year.  While we peer at leaked versions of Doom 3 and video clips of Half Life 2, Far Cry gives us a taste of what is to come in next generation 3D Gaming on the PC.  We benchmarked the graphics cards in our test, with a custom recorded demo run taken in the "Catacombs" area checkpoint.

 

We see more of the same in our testing with Far Cry, where there is no clear advantage currently for PCI Express over AGP.  Moving forward, we expect that Game Developers and Graphics Hardware OEMs will make use of the new found bandwidth provided by PCI Express' serial X16 implementation.  For now however, the new interface seems somewhat under subscribed or utilized.

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