|Thanks to the dedication of hardcore PC gamers and a huge mod-community, the original Half-Life became one of the most successful first person shooters of all time. So, when Valve announced Half-Life 2 was close to completion in mid-2003, gamers the world over sat in eager anticipation. Unfortunately, thanks to a compromised internal network, the theft of a portion of the game's source code, and a tumultuous relationship with the game's distributor, Vivendi Universal, we all had to wait until November 2004 to get our hands on this classic. We benchmarked Half-Life 2 with a long, custom-recorded timedemo in the "Canals" map, that takes us through both outdoor and indoor environments. These tests were run at resolutions of 1024x768, 1,280 x 1,024, and 1,600 x 1,200 without any anti-aliasing or anisotropic filtering and with 4X anti-aliasing and 16X anisotropic filtering enabled concurrently.|
Benchmarking HL2 proved to be a stressful tax as countless timedemos were used to debug some questionable performance results. Contrary to intuition, the GeForce Go 6800Ultra outpaced the GeForce Go 7800 GTX here. Even at 1600x1200 where the GeForce Go 7800GTX should shine, it fell 30fps behind the older GeForce Go 6800Ultra. Although we've been working with NVIDIA to debug the issue with this particular system, we've been unable to solve the problem in the short time we've had our hands on it.
Unfortunately, the same issue we witnessed at default image quality settings was still present when we introduced 4xAA and 16xAF. Here, the GeForce Go 7800 GTX seems hampered by a performance ceiling at roughly 88fps, potentially caused by the notebooks lowly 3GHz Pentium 4. Again, we were unable to definitively determine what the bottleneck for the system was in the time allotted. Regardless, we'll share our troubleshooting approach to lay inquisitive minds to rest.
Initially, it appeared as though there was a faulty component in the system which was performing under par and dragging overall performance down. As a result, we tested each individual component using SiSoft Sandra. Here, the CPU, memory, and hard drive all performed as expected. The next step involved removing each component and reseating it to ensure proper contact. With no luck thus far, the GPU module and CPU were removed to ensure the presence of proper thermal compound in case thermal throttling was to blame. With no success from this venture, we were left to reinstall system drivers and try other video drivers. Again, we were met with the same performance profile and were forced to move onto other benchmarks. Look for a solution to this to be posted in a future article as bugs like this will eat away at us until they are resolved.