Half Life 2: Episode 1
|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 quite a while to get our hands on HL2. Armed with the latest episodic update to HL2, Episode 1, we benchmarked the game with a long, custom-recorded timedemo that takes us through both outdoor and indoor environments. These tests were run at resolutions of 1,280 x 1,024 and 1,600 x 1,200 with 4X anti-aliasing and 16X anisotropic filtering enabled concurrently, and with color correction and HDR rendering enabled in the game engine as well.|
When running Episode 1 at 1280x1024 with 4x AA and 16x AF enabled, we find the new GeForce 7900 GS to be a surprisingly competent performer. It is somewhat shocking to see that a $199 card can churn out average framerates above 60FPS despite running with this level of eye candy enabled. The new NVIDIA GPU's closest competitor in terms of price is the Radeon X1800 GTO, though it would be hard to tell given the performance delta between the two. Here, the XFX card enjoys a healthy 18FPS advantage over the ATI card. Keeping the same high quality image settings and raising the resolution to 1600x1200, we begin to see the $199 cards struggle somewhat. However, it should be noted that the GeForce 7900 GS cards are still managing average framerates above 40fps and provide fluid gameplay despite the relatively high settings.