Gameplay Evaluations - How We Tested:Please be aware that the way we test our video cards is not a like-for-like comparison, and it is not meant to be. We decided to concentrate on finding the "Best Playable" settings - this means that we're finding the best possible gaming experience delivered on each different configuration. There are no timedemos used in our evaluations - we're focusing on the real-world gaming experience, which is, ultimately what should determine your next video card purchase.
Rather than focusing on reporting the minimum and average frame rates for every configuration, we have decided to move the focus to resolution and settings. Thus, we are displaying our "Best Playable" resolutions and settings in a table that should be easier to understand than our previous format. If you take the logic that the higher the resolution and in game details, the faster the video card, you will not go far wrong.
We have also included a table of frame rates below the best-playable settings tables. These frame rates are recorded at the video card's best playable settings
and should not be considered as an 'apples to apples' frame rate comparison, as they are far from that. Many readers have asked us to include frame rates, and we feel that this is the best compromise for the time being. We will look at improving this in future reviews and your feedback is more than welcome in the discussion thread.
AMD Athlon 64 3700+ (operating at 2200MHz, 11x200MHz
); DFI LANParty nF4 SLI-DR (NVIDIA nForce4 SLI); 2 x 512MB Corsair XMS3200XL Pro (operating in dual channel at 200MHz with 2.0-2-2-7 1T timings); Maxtor DiamondMax 10 250GB 7200RPM SATA 150 Hard disk drive; OCZ PowerStream 520W Power Supply; Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2; DirectX 9.0c; NVIDIA nForce4 Standalone chipset drivers, version 6.70.
- 1x Leadtek PX6800 GS TDH Extreme 256MB - operating at its default clock speeds of 485/1100MHz using Forceware version 82.12, available from nZone.
- 1x NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GS 256MB - operating at its default clock speeds of 425/1000MHz using Forceware version 82.12.
- 1x ATI Radeon X850XT 256MB - operating at its default clock speeds of 520/1080MHz using Catalyst 6.1 WHQL with Catalyst Control Center, available from ATI.com.
The video card drivers were left at their default settings (unless otherwise stated) with the exception of Vsync, which was disabled in all cases.
Since our initial look at the NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GS
, we have seen the Radeon X850XT
benefit from some rather large price cuts as ATI is trying to sell off as many of the remaining R480 chips as possible. We found Radeon X850XT's selling for as little as £150 and up to around £200, depending on your choice of brand. We'll discuss Value a little further after we've evaluated the performance of the three video cards, but we felt that our choice of comparison video cards warranted an explanation.