In the first part of our 3D Performance with Chronicles of Riddick article
, we examined the performance of high-end DirectX 9 cards from ATI and NVIDIA with Starbreeze Studios hit title. Today we’re here to look at performance with more affordable cards, as few gamers budget $400 or more for a graphics upgrade. In addition, today’s mainstream graphics cards are more potent than ever, often containing most of the core components found in a high-end part.
ATI’s RADEON X800 XL is a perfect example of this. With 16 pixel pipelines, a 256-bit memory interface with 256MB of GDDR3 memory operating at 500MHz, it boasts specs that would easily dust the high-end $500 cards from one year ago. NVIDIA’s GeForce 6600 GT turned heads when it was first introduced as well. You get 8 pixel pipes with a blazing 500MHz core clock and 500MHz memory, shader model 3.0 support, and best of all, PCI Express variants can already be found online for under $180! It’s pretty remarkable to see just how far the graphics market has come just in the past 12 months. Ain’t competition grand?
In addition to these two cards, we’ve included other mainstream stars, such as the RADEON X800 and X700 PRO, and the GeForce 6800 256MB. All the cards we’ve tested today are PCI Express-based, but we will be going back and taking a look at AGP cards; we’ve also received requests to evaluate 64-bit performance as well (although we may wait a month on this one since it appears the release of the final version of 64-bit Windows is imminent, hopefully by then 64-bit display drivers will have improved).
Since we published our first article, we’ve received a few additional tips on benchmarking with Chronicles of Riddick. First, Riddick does have built in benchmarking and recording capability, in fact the commands are quite similar to the ones id Software uses for DOOM 3. Type “record” to record your demo, and “stop” to stop recording at the console, which is opened by pressing Ctrl+Alt+~. To playback your demo in timedemo mode, simply type “timedemo [name of your demo]” and press enter. So if you named your demo “test” you’d simply type “timedemo test” at the console. The demo will run and spit out your average frame rate, just like DOOM 3 would.
For more in-depth results, the “benchmark” command is used. So in the example above, you’d type “benchmark test”, press enter, and your demo would be played back in timedemo mode. The one key difference here though is that once the demo is completed, Riddick closes, kicking you back to the desktop. You then open your root Riddick directory, where you should find a text file with your benchmark results titled “BenchResults .txt”. Simply open this file, and you’ll not only see your average fps, but also your minimum and maximum framerates, as well as the current framerate for every frame in the demo your recorded! Pretty cool huh?
If there’s one thing we can’t stress enough though is that all GeForce 6 users must go into the shader mode submenu (found after clicking on the video main menu) and specify 2.0 shaders. By default Chronicles of Riddick loads in 2.0++ shader mode for GeForce 6 cards. This setting enables soft shadows and can have a significant impact on your performance, as you’ll see later in this article. Soft shadows are nice, but they definitely aren’t worth the performance hit.