Painkiller is a new game based on the Pain-engine, so it provides a unique look at graphics card performance that we haven’t seen before; that also means there have been fewer changes the driver engineers at each graphics house have made to tweak specifically for this engine.
We did a manual run through of this game, specifically on Chapter 03, Area 03 where you are running through the open ends of a cargo jet and fighting off tanks and zombies. Now, because you must kill each zombie before you are allowed to advance to the next section, each run through was slightly different as the zombie deaths were not always in the same order, etc. By enabling god mode and infinite ammo, however, I was able to get the three individual runs on each card very consistent, and I am confident in the results we are presenting.
For our testing, we set everything to as high as it would go in the video options, as seen in the screenshots below.
We left the game-based multisampling on “None” and used the ATI and NVIDIA control panels to enable the AA and AF instead.
All three cards are performing pretty much the same throughout our 1024 testing. In the 0xAA / 0xAF testing we even show th stock 6800 card out pacing the AA6800, but it falls within our scope of error on manual game run throughs.
Even at 1280×1024 resolution we find all three cards playable with the eye candy turned on. Though the ATI card is slightly faster than the two competing cards, they are within a reasonable reach of each other, with just a minor performance gain going to the Chaintech overclocked AA6800 card.
At 16×12 without AA and AF enabled, the 6800 cards out run the ATI X800 Pro card, but because we seem to have found a bug in the ATI 4.9 drivers with Painkiller (AA and AF wouldn’t enable at 1600×1200 resolution no matter what we tried) we aren’t able to directly compare the ATI and NVIDIA cards with the IQ turned up. We might guess that from the previous tests at 4xAA and 8xAF, the ATI card would be slightly faster than the 6800s. All three cards remain playable, though, and the Chaintech card is slightly faster throughout.