With Battlefield 2 poised for retail release this week, we figured we’d take one last look at the 3D performance of various cards with the demo released earlier this month. While the demo is by no means a complete representation of the final game, the premise is simple: to get an idea of how the game may perform with today’s hardware. A “sneak peek” if you will. Hopefully this will be enough to tide you over until we’ve had more time to run our full gamut of tests with the final game. Jakub is already hard at work “playtesting” it for his review, and has already come up with solutions to the recording problems we outlined last week, as well as custom demos of multiple gameplay aspects. Be on the lookout for those articles in the coming days.
In the meantime, today we wanted to go over BF2 demo performance with more affordable hardware. After all, while we all dream of high-end hardware, not everyone is willing to shell out $400 or $500 for a video card. Most gamers on a budget instead opt for the cards one rung from the top, these cards usually ship with most of the same features found in higher end offerings, only they can be found for $100-$200 less.
NVIDIA’s GeForce 6800 is one popular example of this. The GeForce 6800 shares most of the core components as its more expensive brothers, the GeForce 6800 GT and GeForce 6800 Ultra, in fact, as we outlined in our Unlocking the GeForce 6800 article, the AGP GeForce 6800 is built on the same manufacturing line as these cards, only NVIDIA locks one of the 6800’s vertex units and one pixel quad, leaving it with four fewer functional functional pixel pipelines (12 total). GeForce 6800 cards also ship with lower clock speeds. But with a few quick modifications, these cards can be modified to perform more closely to their costlier counterparts.
The RADEON X800 is ATI’s closest equivalent to the GeForce 6800. The chip is based on the same core as ATI’s 16-pixel pipeline RADEON X800 XL, R430, only ATI disables four of its pixel pipelines, for a total of 12 functional units, just like the GeForce 6800. Also like the GeForce 6800, RADEON X800 features a 256-bit memory interface. The 256MB version of these cards sells for about $250, which is half the price of the RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition we tested with last week.
At the lower end of the mainstream segment lie the GeForce 6600 GT and RADEON X700 PRO. These cards share similar configurations, with 8 pipes and a 128-bit GDDR3 memory interface, only the GeForce 6600 GT ships with higher clock speeds and of course NVIDIA is quick to tout their shader model 3.0 support.
For legacy’s sake, we also threw in a few tests with ATI’s older 4-pipe X600 XT. Those of you with RADEON 9600 XT/PRO and RADEON 9500 PRO cards will want to follow the X600 XT scores closely to see how your card compares. We also included the results from last week whenever possible.