It is interesting to evaluate the AGEIA PhysX card, this time from Asus, to see how the landscape has changed in the two and half months since initial launch.
After the initial review period on the AGEIA PhysX PPU, the fact that enabling the PPU accelerated parts of Ghost Recon lowered performance became widely criticized. AGEIA promptly released this statement:
“We appreciate feedback from the gamer community and based partly on comments like the one above, we have identified an area in our driver where fine tuning positively impacts frame rate. We made an adjustment quickly and delivered it in a new driver (2.4.3) which is available for download at ageia.com today.”
Unfortunately, after testing both the BFG and Asus cards with the 2.4.3 driver, as well as a newer 2.4.4 released on June 20th, no performance changes were seen. The FRAPS frame rate data still came back with the same small, but slightly noticeable performance deficit with the AGEIA PhysX PPU installed and activated. To be fair, I was never one to condemn AGEIA for this small performance decrement, as adding in the new effects and features added a bit of overhead. As long as the performance doesn’t decrease any further than this on other titles that might use the PPU even more, AGEIA has nothing to worry about. If that does occur though, AGEIA physics acceleration methods are going to be in question.
Going into the physics acceleration battle, AGEIA knew the battle to get developers on board was going to be tough. Unfortunately, since the launch of the PhysX cards in May, only one other title that I would consider “major” has been released utilizing the PhysX PPU. An update to City of Heroes / Villians introduced a new section to the game world that allowed users to destory and use objects in the world that wasn’t possible before hand. We are working on getting a solid method of evaluating performance and features of this new CoV update and we’ll report back when we do.
Honestly, the landscape looks rather bleak from my view. With no major titles adding support for PhysX and nothing dramatic or revolutionary having been accomplished with Ghost Recon or City of Villians, gamers have little reason to want a PhysX card.
The Asus PhysX P1 Offering
If you are still excited about the AGEIA PhysX PPU and its potential, then the Asus PhysX P1 card is probably your best option. Currently selling for just over $250 online, it is only a few dollars more than the BFG model that does NOT come with a full copy of Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter. As a game, not even involving the physics discussion, GRAW is a solid title that is thoroughly enjoyable and well worth the additional cost.
The Asus PhysX P1 accelerator card is the best option available for dedicated hardware physics powered by AGEIA. If the platform itself were more exciting or the outlook for upcoming PhysX titles was more appealing, I might be able to recommend that gamers buy one up while stock is plentiful. Unfortunately, that is not the case, and as such its hard to get excited about a $250 upgrade that isn’t doing much.
Other Articles of Interest on Physics in Gaming
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