eVGA GeForce 8800 Ultra

Overall Score

The card will be tested with the CPU and the GPU both at stock speeds, and then we will look into overclocking them. The tests run will include 3DMark, the popular Bethesda Softworks RPG Oblivion, and the DirectX 9 version of Capcom’s Lost Planet: Extreme Condition demo. Additionally, the DX10 version of the Lost Planet demo will also be tested.

Capcom’s new game Lost Planet offers a unique opportunity to compare the performance of the 8800 Ultra under Windows XP and Windows Vista. The DirectX 9 version of the game was tested under both operating systems, and additionally the DirectX 10 version was tested under Vista to get an idea of the performance hit (or gain) to be expected from Microsoft’s new API.

The tests were run using the demo version of the game available publicly on the Web. Due to limitations of the software the runs were performed at 1280×960 resolution, as the demo did not support my monitor’s native 1680×1050. The settings used were as shown in the attached screenshots. In addition, the runs were repeated with 8x antialiasing to compare the performance with enhanced image quality. The initial tests were performed with the CPU and GPU both operating at their stock settings.

The game’s built in performance test was run for each of the modes to be tested, and the data was collected. The following graphs show the results for the snow level as well as the cave, and they are a bit surprising.

For the snow level, the performance of the GeForce 8800 Ultra was excellent. Regardless of the operating system, AA level, or version of DX used, the system was able to maintain in excess of 60 frames per second on this level. The part that was astonishing was the performance under Windows Vista. When running with no antialiasing, the best performance overall was achieved in the DX10 version of the game, even better than the performance of the DX9 version running under XP. With AA enabled, the DX9 version in XP claimed a slight performance lead over both Vista versions, but the DX10 version still outperformed the Vista DX9 version in raw framerate. The DX10 version’s advantage is even better as I will discuss in a bit.

When moving on to the cave level, the FPS performance drops off compared to the snow level, although performance remained at a still very acceptable minimum of 45 FPS. The performance impact from enabling antialiasing was almost negligible in all three configurations, indicating a high probability that this section is being CPU limited, as we will investigate in the next installment when I present the performance with the CPU overclocked. In the cave level, we find that the DX9 version under XP performed the best, followed by the DX9 version under Vista and the DX10 version under Vista, seperated by an incosequential 1 FPS with or without AA. Interestingly, the DX10 version trailed the XP DX9 version by almost an identical margin to that it had led the XP DX9 version by in the snow level.

Now the burning question is whether the DX10 version offers anything special to justify the transition to Vista (and the purchase of a DX10 compatible card such as a GeForce 8000 series or a Radeon HD2000 series). From my experience, in the Lost Planet game the answer is a resounding yes. While the framerates were not dramtically different between the DX9 and DX10 versions, the subjective feel of the game was quite different. The DX10 version simply felt more fluid at a given framerate than the DX9 version did, as if the CPU were updating the animations at a higher rate, in addition to the speed that the GPU draws. In addition, the image quality appeared to be slightly higher. These observations were borne out both in watching the performance test run and in actually playing through the demo. Unfortunately there is no way to quantify the DX10 "feel" advantage, but the overall experience indeed seemed to be enhanced. In particular, the animation of the bugs in the cave level seemed much better.


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