iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Summary of 3D Tests
of 101 Video Cards Manufactured in 1999-2004
(October, 2004)



  1. Introduction
  2. List of video cards
  3. Testbed configurations, benchmarks
  4. Test results: ALL DIAGRAMS ON ONE PAGE
  5. Test results: Serious Sam: The Second Encounter
  6. Test results: Code Creatures DEMO
  7. Test results: Unreal Tournament 2003
  8. Test results: Unreal II: The Awakening
  9. Test results: RightMark 3D
  10. Test results: TRAOD
  11. Test results: FarCry
  12. Test results: Call Of Duty
  13. Test results: HALO: Combat Evolved
  14. Test results: Painkiller
  15. Test results: Splinter Cell
  16. Test results: Return to Castle Wolfenstein
  17. Test results: Quake3 Arena
  18. Test results: DOOM III
  19. Conclusions

It took us almost a month to carry out all the tests, which results we are presenting to you now. This task has traditionally become annual, but this time we publish the results in October instead of December. We believe that this report will help many users compare certain video cards to each other and choose a correct purchase on the threshold of holidays, if they are planning to buy a 3D accelerator, of course.

We have tested 101 video cards in 14 tests at two resolutions – 800x600 and 1024x768. These resolutions are selected to demonstrate the capacity and potential of old and weak (for these days) accelerators. But some of them (the most powerful) have also been tested with AA (antialiasing) 4x and AF (anisotropic filtering) 16x (or 8x in those cards, where AF is limited to this rate). Quality settings – Quality/High Quality.

So, the list of video cards. Contenders are listed in the CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, approximately according to their appearance on the market.

Video Cards


Testbed configurations:

  • Athlon XP 3000+ based computer
    • AMD Athlon XP 3000+ CPU (2166 MHz)
    • MSI KT7 Ultra-2 mainboard based on VIA KT333
    • RAM: 1 GB DDR SDRAM PC 3200
    • Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 80GB SATA HDD

  • Operating system – Windows XP SP2; DirectX 9.0c
  • Monitor: Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 2070sb (22").
  • Drivers:
    • ATI v6.476 (CATALYST 4.9)
    • NVIDIA v65.76
    • for Voodoo4 - Amiga 3.0
    • for Savage4 - 8.40.02
    • for Savage2000 - 9.21.01
    • PowerVR - 21.00.07
    • Matrox G550 - 5.92.006; Parhelia - 1.07.00.
    • for DeltaChromeS8 - 15.10.11

VSync is disabled.

ATTENTION! In games using shader technologies the test results ARE SPLIT INTO SEVERAL DIAGRAMS: without shaders, Shaders 1.1 and 2.0. ZEROS in SOME VIDEO CARDS mean that THIS TEST (GAME) COULD NOT BE RUN ON THIS CARD, or AN ERROR OCCURRED.

Test results: performance comparison

We used the following test applications:

  • Serious Sam: The Second Encounter v.1.05 (Croteam/GodGames) – OpenGL, multitexturing, ixbt0703-demo, test settings: quality, S3TC OFF

  • Unreal Tournament 2003 v.2225 (Digital Extreme/Epic Games) – Direct3D, Vertex Shaders, Hardware T&L, Dot3, cube texturing, default quality

  • Code Creatures Benchmark Pro (CodeCult) – gaming test demonstrating how the video card works with DirectX 8.1, Shaders, HW T&L.

  • Unreal II: The Awakening (Legend Ent./Epic Games) – Direct3D, Vertex Shaders, Hardware T&L, Dot3, cube texturing, default quality

  • RightMark 3D v.0.4 (one of game scenes) – DirectX 8.1, Dot3, cube texturing, shadow buffers, vertex and pixel shaders (1.1, 1.4).

  • Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness v.49 (Core Design/Eldos Software) – DirectX 9.0, Paris5_4 demo. The tests were conducted with the quality set to maximum, only Depth of Fields PS20 was disabled.

  • HALO: Combat Evolved (Microsoft) – Direct3D, Vertex/Pixel Shaders 1.1/2.0, Hardware T&L, maximum quality

  • PainKiller v.1.31(People Can Fly/Dreamcatcher) – DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, maximum possible test settings. Integrated benchmark was used.

  • Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell v.1.2b (UbiSoft) – Direct3D, Vertex/Pixel Shaders 1.1/2.0, Hardware T&L, Very High settings; demo 1_1_2_Tbilisi

  • Call of Duty (MultiPlayer) (Infinity Ward/Activision) – OpenGL, multitexturing, ixbt0104demo, test settings – maximum, S3TC ON

  • FarCry 1.2 (Crytek/UbiSoft), DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, demo01 (research) (the game was started with the -DEVMODE option), test settings – Very High.

  • Quake3 Arena v.1.17 (id Software/Activision) – OpenGL, multitexturing, ixbt0703-demo, all test settings to maximum: detailing level – High, texture details – #4, S3TC OFF, curved surfaces are strongly smoothed using variables r_subdivisions "1" and r_lodCurveError "30000" (note that by default it's r_lodCurveError «250» !),

  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein (MultiPlayer) (id Software/Activision) – OpenGL, multitexturing, ixbt0703-demo, test settings – all to maximum, S3TC OFF,

  • DOOM III (id Software/Activision) – OpenGL, multitexturing, test settings – Low Quality,

If you want to get the demo-benchmarks, which we use, contact me at my e-mail.

You can download the summary table of results in Excel 2003 format here.


Serious Sam: The Second Encounter
800x600 1024x768

Code Creatures
800x600 is not supported 1024x768

Unreal Tournament 2003
800x600 1024x768

Unreal II: The Awakening
800x600 1024x768

RightMark 3D
800x600 1024x768

TR:AoD, Paris5_4 DEMO
800x600 NO SHADERS 1024x768 NO SHADERS 800x600 SHADERS 1.1/2.0 1024x768 SHADERS 1.1/2.0

FarCry, demo01
800x600 NO SHADERS 1024x768 NO SHADERS 800x600 SHADERS 1.1 1024x768 SHADERS 1.1 800x600 SHADERS 2.0 1024x768 SHADERS 2.0

Call of Duty, ixbt04
800x600 1024x768

HALO: Combat Evolved
800x600 NO SHADERS 1024x768 NO SHADERS 800x600 SHADERS 1.1 1024x768 SHADERS 1.1 800x600 SHADERS 2.0 1024x768 SHADERS 2.0

800x600 NO SHADERS 1024x768 NO SHADERS 800x600 SHADERS 1.1 1024x768 SHADERS 1.1

Splinter Cell
800x600 1024x768

Return to Castle Wolfenstein (Multiplayer)
800x600 1024x768

Quake3 Arena
800x600 1024x768

800x600 NO SHADERS 1024x768 NO SHADERS 800x600 SHADERS 1.1/2.0 1024x768 SHADERS 1.1/2.0

In our 3DiGest you can find more detailed comparisons of various video cards.


The bottom line is simple: we used the most powerful of the existing platforms, which supports all AGP 1.0-3.0 video cards. That's why we managed to test this number of accelerators. By the way, it should be noted that our readers also learned how the outdated accelerators deal with new games (as we can see, the majority of video cards produced in 1999-2000 simply refuse to operate).

And the choice is up to the readers. :) You've got the info. Plenty of it. :)

We express our thanks to the companies, which provided video cards and other equipment:
"HIS" (and personally Peter Yueng),
"ATI Technologies",
"Sapphire Technology",
"VIA" and personally Alexander Likhtman,
"Bench'emAll! (and personally Alexander Kondratiuk AKA Render for his help in optimizing the test process)".

Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)


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