Counter Strike Source IQ and Benchmarks
Valve's Counter Strike: Source beta demo is a take on the original wildly popular multiplayer, team-based shooter, Counter Strike. The CS Source beta demo is really just a port of the original game to Valve's new "Source" engine that will be powering Half Life 2 upon its future release. The downside is that this updated version of Counter Strike doesn't employ many of the really impressive shader effects and other features that are showcased in Half Life 2, with the exception of high dynamic range lighting, which is impressive in the CS Source demo as well. Regardless, we're of the opinion here that the Graphics "Stress Test" that is bundled in with the CS Source demo is going to be more representative of performance in actual game play with Half Life 2 when it ships.
The only real issue with basing performance metrics solely on the CS Source Graphics Stress Test, is that it too isn't completely representative of an actual gaming scenario with Half Life 2. We'll need a released HL2 with custom recorded demos to achieve that test setup. However for now, we feel the Stress Test a lot closer to reality than a recorded Counter Strike: Source demo run.
Let's check IQ with CS Source quickly, before we move into the actual benchmarks.
|GeForce 6800 Ultra
||Radeon X800 XT PE
Shots taken at 1024X768 w/ 4X AA and 8X Aniso Filtering
Once again we were hard pressed to detect any meaningful differences in image quality between the Radeon X800 XT PE and the GeForce 6800 Ultra. Whether you peer at pixels looking for Anti-Aliasing quality or Anisotropic Filtering detail, it's virtually impossible to notice any measurable difference in IQ between the renderings we've captured in the above shots.
Here's a quick Eye Candy showcase of the Graphics Stress Test that is bundled in with the Counter Strike: Source demo. The pixel shader, bump and environment mapping and lighting effects are simply to die for. Half Life 2 could possibly compete pretty well versus Doom 3 for best looking next generation game.
The Half Life 2 engine is looking sweet for sure and if you're anything like us here at HotHardware, you can't wait until the actual game is released. For now, let's look at some benchmark numbers.
My how the tables have turned. Where the OpenGL based Doom 3 engine obviously favors NVIDIA's NV40, ATi's R420 based Radeon X800 XT PE seems to be favored equally here by Valve Software's new DX9 class graphics engine. At medium res, there's a smallish 4-5% lead for the X800 XT but add on 4X Anti-Aliasing requirements and 8X Anisotropic Filtering and the flagship ATi card pulls out an impressive 40% advantage over the Doom 3 dominating GeForce 6800 Ultra. Let's scale up the resolution settings and see what the numbers look like there as well.