The demoplay feature of Unreal Tournament 2004 can be used to measure 3D graphics performance as it calculates the average frame rate from a gameplay recording as it's played back on your system. The benchmarking process is straightforward once the proper configuration files have been created.
UT2004 Onslaught Dria
This article provides step-by-step instructions on using the retail version of UT2004 as a benchmark and contains links to a couple of demos that will have your system begging for mercy. Credits for this article go out to 3DCenter and Atari forum member Folk.
The first step is to navigate to the directory where UT2004 is installed on your system. UT2004 is installed on my E: drive under the \Games\UT2004 directory as shown in the image below.
UT2004 takes up a large amount of disk storage. At the time this article was being written, the UT2004 directory on my system consisted of 1,502 files, 32 folders, and 5.21 GB of disk space!
UT2004 demos are gameplay recordings and have a file extension of .demo4. Demos should be stored in the \Demos directory as shown in the image below.
UT2004 Demos Directory
Sample demos can be downloaded at the following links - ONS_Dria (2.7 MB) and Primeval. Note that there are minor differences in the demo playback instructions provided with 3DCenter's Primeval demo and in this article. Both demos are based on UT2004's Onslaught game mode, which is explained at PlanetUnreal.
DEMO COMMAND FILE
The next step is to create a command file to play a demo, which should be placed in the \Benchmark\Stuff directory. Copy and paste the following two lines into a text editor.
demoplay NameOfDemoFile?timedemo stat fps
Change the name of the demo to match the name of a file in the \Demos directory, such as ONS_Dria, and save the commands as a text file with an appropriate name, i.e. demo_ONS_Dria.txt. The image below shows an example of the commands in the demo_ONS_Dria.txt file.
Demo Command File
The ?timedemo parameter causes the demo to be played back as fast as possible on your system. The stat fps command will display the current and average frame rate on the screen while the demo is playing.
DEMO BATCH FILE
A batch file contains a series of commands that are executed by the operating system and has an extension of .bat. A batch file that contains the commands to run UT2004 and play back a demo with specified parameters needs to be created.
Copy and paste the following line into a text editor. Save the data in a file called NameOfDemoFile_1024x768.bat in the root directory of UT2004.
When double-clicked, the batch file will execute UT2004 and play back the Dria demo under Direct3D at a resolution of 1024x768 with sound disabled.
Note that multiple batch files can be created as needed. For example, a second batch file can be created to run UT2004 at a resolution of 1600x1200 by replacing -1024x768 with -1600x1200 and saving the new batch file with a different name. Click this link for an example of multiple batch files that are used to run benchmarks at various resolutions on different maps.
The initialization, or configuration file, that is used by UT2004 is named UT2004.ini and resides in the /System directory. It's a good idea to save a backup copy of UT2004.ini before benchmarking. The following lines are a partial listing of graphics settings in the UT2004.ini file:
The graphics settings in the UT2004.ini file can be modified using a text editor. However, until you become familiar with the settings in the UT2004.ini file, I recommend that you change the graphics options via the in-game menu. Changing the graphics options via the in-game menu will automatically update the UT2004.ini file.
UT2004 Display Settings
Note that UT2004 does not contain an in-game setting that controls the level of antialiasing. Antialiasing should be configured using the graphics control panel as shown in the image below. Be sure to double-check your graphics settings and ensure that vertical sync has been turned off.
Graphics Driver Settings
However, the level of anisotropic filtering can be set in the UT2004.ini file. Search for all LevelOfAnisotropy=1 entries and change each one to LevelOfAnisotropy=8, or to a level that your graphics card supports, which is usually 2, 4, 8, or 16.
RUNNING A BENCHMARK
Double-clicking the appropriate .bat file that was created in the previous step will execute a benchmark. UT2004 will launch and a splash screen will appear as the demo level loads.
Demo Playback Splash Screen
The demo will then be played back. When the demo is complete, UT2004 will end and the system will return to Windows. The benchmark results are saved in the \Benchmark\Results directory as avgfps-yyyy-mm-dd-hh-mm-ss.log. Here is an example of the information in the benchmark log file avgfps-2004-07-07-22-24-58.log.
UT2004 Build UT2004_Patch_[2004-06-11_16.51]
Windows XP 5.1 (Build: 2600)
AuthenticAMD Unknown processor @ 2203 MHz with 1023MB RAM
NVIDIA GeForce 6800 (6134)
The average frame rate in this example was 56.275191 seconds.
COMPILING THE RESULTS
The final step is to compile your results. This also happens to be a very important part of benchmarking as you need to ensure that the settings used to determine each result are verified and documented. If there is any doubt about a setting or result, the benchmark should be repeated. The following results are from a GeForce 6800.
GeForce 6800 Benchmark Results
The following results are from a GeForce 6800 Ultra using UT2004's Highest Quality setting. Note that the results are presented in a different format than the GeForce 6800, which took a minimal amount of time to change using a document editing program such as Word. Although bar charts are attractive, they would have taken much longer to create.
GeForce 6800 Ultra Benchmark Results
As much relevant information as possible should be provided with the benchmark results, which allows the reader to run the same benchmark on their system in order to compare performance.