More Happy Benchmarks
World of Warcraft

At first glance many people think that this title is simply a panty-waist when it comes to pushing a video card.  Considering the new environments that were added in The Burning Crusade, as well as the massive increase in geometry that these new areas encompass, it is no wonder that many people who had previously ran the title fine are now screaming, “LAG!” in large areas with plenty of people and effects going on.  Considering it is one of the most played games out there, I figured it would be good to take a look at performance.

I set all quality sliders to maximum, as well as 4X AA and 16X AF.  Both AMD and NVIDIA cards were set to the highest texture quality.  A run through Terokkar forest was performed using FRAPS to capture the frame rates.  Multiple runs were made to check consistency.

 

HD 3850

GeForce 8600 GTS

1280 x 1024

73.107 fps

34.898 fps

1600 x 1200

60.136 fps

26.247 fps


I was frankly quite surprised by these results.  I honestly was expecting more than 100 fps at 1280 x 1024 on both parts, but it does seem as if Blizzard has beefed up WoW to take on even modern day cards.  The 8600 only felt smooth at 1280 x 1024, and even then it would hitch and jerk pretty consistently.  1600 x 1200 was just too choppy for my tastes with that card.  The 3850 on the other hand performed outstandingly.

VisionTek Radeon HD 3850 Review - Graphics Cards  1
The single slot design is nice for those low on space, plus it does not occlude other PCI/PCI-E slots on motherboards.  HTPC systems using micro-ATX boards can breathe a sigh of relief now.

Far Cry

I took two sets of benches with standard rendering with AA, and HDR with no AA.  While this game was released in 2004, it still is a nice mix of DX8 and DX9 shaders and effects.  It also has more than enough oomph to push even high end cards of today.  Ultra settings were enabled with 4X AA in standard tests, and 16X AF in both standard and HDR modes.  The Regulator demo was used.

4X AA/16X AF

HD 3850

GeForce 8600 GTS

1280 x 1024

73.99 fps

56.16 fps

1600 x 1200

60.78 fps

41.34 fps


The 3850 again exerts its dominance in this title, and slaps the 8600 GTS around silly.  Gameplay outside of the benchmark was much smoother with the 3850 at these resolutions and settings than the 8600 GTS, and it certainly seemed as though the minimum framerates were quite a bit higher.

The second test uses the HDR functionality, and in the official 1.4 patch it does not support AA combined with HDR.  Now we can see what the HD 3850 can potentially do without having to deal with the nasty performance hit that enabling AA gives.

HDR 16X AF

HD 3850

GeForce 8600 GTS

1280 x 1024

80.15 fps

51.13 fps

1600 x 1200

66.42 fps

38.07 fps


It used to be that enabling HDR in the GeForce 7 or Radeon X1x00 series of cards would cause a horrendous performance hit, but now things have changed.  While the 8600 GTS does take a hit when running HDR instead of AA in this instance, the 3850 actually runs faster with HDR.

Oblivion

This DX9 masterpiece features complex shaders, complex environments, and really long views.  And it is pretty.  Exceptionally so.  Settings were placed on High with HDR and AA enabled.  4X AA was forced by both control panels with 16X AF enabled.  A quick jaunt west of the Imperial City was captured with FRAPS.

Oblivion

HD 3850

GeForce 8600 GTS

1280 x 1024

45.538 fps

29.778 fps

1600 x 1200

41.117 fps

22.975 fps


The 8600 GTS holds up pretty well with HDR and AA enabled, but the 3850 just smokes it.  I was honestly surprised by how little performance fell when going to 1600 x 1200 on the HD 3850.  At that point, the 3850 almost doubled the performance of the 8600 GTS.

VisionTek Radeon HD 3850 Review - Graphics Cards  2
Here we see the HD 3850 compared to the Gigabyte 8600 GTS Silent Pipe 3.  The HD 3850 is significantly longer, plus it does feature double the memory bus width of the older 8600 GTS.

Prey

I figured I would throw in an OpenGL title based on a highly modified Doom 3 engine.  Prey uses some advanced shaders throughout the experience, and the portal technology is pretty nifty to see in action.  All settings were maxed out with 4X AA and 16X AF enabled.  A custom timedemo was created and ran several times to achieve consistent results.

Prey

HD 3850

GeForce 8600 GTS

1280 x 1024

81 fps

50 fps

1600 x 1200

67 fps

38 fps


When running a Doom 3 based game, it locks down at 60 fps (though you can set your refresh rate higher).  These results point to the 3850 being more able to keep a consistent 60 fps throughout the experience at these resolutions than the 8600 GTS.  More consistent framerates typically mean a more immersive environment, as massive framerate drops will make users come out of their delusional states and shout at their monitors.

F.E.A.R.

This is another older title, but it still has some nice lighting and shader effects that can push current cards quite nicely.  Settings were all put to maximum and 4X AA and 16X AF were enabled.  Soft shadows were disabled.  I used the built-in performance benchmark for these results.  I recorded both minimum and average framerates.

F.E.A.R. Min.

HD 3850

GeForce 8600 GTS

1280 x 1024

25 fps

21 fps

1600 x 1200

17 fps

16 fps


We see that both cards suffer from some significant framerate drops in this title, even at 1280 x 1024.  A possible explanation could be that it is simply swapping frame buffer data with main memory.  In these situations a 512 MB card would likely pose a better solution with smoother overall gameplay.  For a change the 8600 is keeping right up with the 3850 when it comes to minimum framerates.

F.E.A.R. Avg.

HD 3850

GeForce 8600 GTS

1280 x 1024

71 fps

42 fps

1600 x 1200

52 fps

30 fps


When it comes to averages though, the 3850 easily has the 8600 beat by a hefty margin.  In doing some quick gameplay runs, even though I would get framerate drops now and then the 3850 suffered far less and the overall experience was much smoother.

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