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GeForce2 Quake 3 Shootout - Tweaking

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Better Gibbing Through Tweaking

Quake 3 is an extremely graphic intensive game. Purists, such as my partner in crime here at nV News (just kidding HalcYoN - I'd play with all the eye candy on too if I had an Ultra :), likes to play with all the graphics options enabled, others are willing to give up some of the eye candy to increase frame rates.

Disabling graphics options results in less memory bandwidth utilization which will increase performance. Two frame rate killers that are disabled in this section include dynamic lights and gibs.

Quake 3 Tweaked Performance

The following table compares the standard high quality settings (first number) versus the same settings with dynamic lights and gibs disabled (second number). Texutre compression was disabled as well to stress image quality over speed.

Un-Tweaked versus Tweaked Performance

  GeForce2 MX GeForce2 GTS GeForce2 Ultra
640x480x16 123.6 / 137.8 128.0 / 139.8 128.1 / 141.8
640x480x32 113.3 / 131.3 126.5 / 139.5 128.0 / 141.4
800x600x16 104.4 / 121.3 125.5 / 138.4 126.1 / 139.0
800x600x32 82.2 / 96.2 119.7 / 135.9 124.5 / 138.8
1024x768x16 71.7 / 84.5 116.6 / 133.3 123.2 / 136.9
1024x768x32 53.1 / 62.6 92.1 / 109.4 112.2 / 131.1
1280x1024x16 42.3 / 49.5 86.6 / 102.6 107.5 / 125.7
1280x1024x32 32.6 / 38.6 54.5 / 66.2 84.6 / 93.2
1600x1200x16 29.9 / 40.2 59.9 / 72.5 82.4 / 98.6
1600x1200x32 20.3 / 24.3 36.6 / 44.1 54.0 / 65.0

Disabling a couple of graphics settings offers a very nice increase in performance which can range between 10 to 30 percent more frames per second. Performance also tends to be greater (percentage wise) at higher resolutions where each card is close to its memory bandwidth limitation.

The cells shaded in grey indicate where I think you could actually move up to the next highest resolution by disabling gibs and dynamic lights. For example on the GeForce2 MX at a resolution and color depth of 800x600x32, the fps is 82.2. By disabling gibs and dynamic lights, you could move up to 1024x768x16 and get better performance as well (84.5 fps). The trade-off is that you would be playing in 16-bit color, but with 32-bit textures.


Hopefully this shootout left you with a better idea of the performance you can expect with all three flavors of GeForce2 based cards in Quake 3. If we had a chart that measured the cost per frames per second, I'm sure the GeForce2 MX would come out on top. However, when you're into heavy mulit-player games the GeForce2 GTS, and especially the GeForce2 Ultra, will leave you gibbing for more.

We need to reiterate that the GeForce2 line of graphics cards require a resonably fast processor to maximize performance. If you're looking for a significant boost in gaming performance by moving up to a GeForce2, make sure you get at least a processor running at 700MHz or better.

If you're able to get a decent overclock of the motherboard front side bus speed (FSB), chances are that you'll get the performance benefits of running at a higher AGP bus speed. Then add in a 10% overclock of the graphics memory on the GeForce2, and you'll be good to go.

Feeback on this article is welcome. Click here to head to the nV News forum.

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Last Updated on November 18, 2000

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