CS: Source Benchmarking Impressions
While we posted our results with Valve’s stress test first, the release of the Counter-Strike: Source beta was definitely more important. Counter-Strike is the #1 shooter played online, with a loyal following of tens of thousands of gamers. In fact, with the standalone copy of the original Counter-Strike a perennial bestseller, it could easily be argued that Counter-Strike: Source is just as big, if not bigger, than the release of Half-Life 2 and DOOM 3! It may not be getting the fanfare of the other two, but it goes without saying that the release of Counter-Strike: Source will be highly anticipated by a lot of people. Because of this, we’ll probably be dedicating separate sections for Half-Life 2 and Counter-Strike: Source in future hardware reviews. Until that occurs however, we’ll have to settle with benchmarking CS: Source beta.
Benchmarking the beta
Valve has implemented everything you’ll need for benchmarking and recording your own demos in CS: Source, only it’s a little harder to find. The console is disabled by default, so you’ll have to enable it by checking the "Enable developer console" setting under the keyboard - advanced menu. In addition, the beta doesn’t ship with any demos, but this can be easily rectified with the “record” command. We’re currently providing our own demo, cssource_firingsquad.dem, which you can use for benchmarking your own hardware.
In order to run our demo, place the cssource_firingsquad.dem file in your "\\counter-strike source beta\\cstrike" directory, then launch the game. Once you’ve enabled the console, lower it with the tilde (~) key and type "timedemo cssource_firingsquad". Press enter and CS: Source will then run the demo and give you your fps result.
For this article, we’ve decided to focus on the high-end DX9 cards first, we’ll be taking a look at the first and second generation DX9 cards in our next article. After posting the video stress test results, we were particularly interested in seeing 128MB versus 256MB numbers, so we included ASUS’ V9999 Gamer Edition card.
ASUS V9999 Gamer Edition
This is a GeForce 6800 board that ships with 256MB of GDDR3 memory, which runs at 1.0GHz. For the purposes of these tests though we underclocked the memory to 700MHz, the default setting for GeForce 6800.
On the extreme high-end side, we also included eVGA’s e-GeForce 6800 Ultra Extreme Edition. For the Extreme Editions, eVGA handpicks the fastest 6800 Ultra cards and overclocks them by default. All cards are validated and guaranteed to run at 450MHz core/1.2GHz memory, which is an improvement of 50MHz on the graphics core and 100MHz (effective) on the memory. This makes these boards some of the fastest GeForce 6800 Ultras on the planet.
eVGAs Extreme Edition 6800 Ultra
This is one fast card
The only downside is that these cards are ultra rare. To date, eVGA has only sold 60 cards! At $550 a pop, these cards aren’t cheap, but when you consider all the goodies eVGA throws in (a $10 Starbucks coupon, $50 eVGA bucks, etc.) it’s actually not a bad deal, as a stock 6800 Ultra retails for $500 with lower performance.
Of course, all the performance in the world means nothing if CS: Source looks horrible on your $500 video card. To evaluate this we’ve taken some screenshots.