Inno3D iChill 8600GTS XStriker3 Review - Page 5 of 6
By Steve Angelly - June 5, 2007
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. presents an interesting game test in
that it supports 3 rendering modes with rather large differences. The 3 choices of 'Render'
modes are: Static Lighting, Object Dynamic Lighting, and Full Dynamic Lighting.
Static Lighting is limited to only DX8 with light maps with the in-game options
of "Lighting Distance" and "Shadow Quality" disabled. Static Lighting mode gives
the game a tremendous performance boost but at a cost. The visuals look flat,
washed-out, and dated. Object Dynamic Lighting mode runs in DirectX 9 mode with
light maps and selecting Full Dynamic Lighting will run DirectX 9 mode with full
dynamic lights. Of course, the last two DX9 lighting modes will place a severe hit on
performance compared to the DX8-only supported Static Lighting mode.
In setting up this test, I decided to use the in-game
benchmarks provided by the developers. The first, titled 'Buildings Demo' is a
timedemo at the military compound where in the game you are given the
assignment to free 'Mole.' The second timedemo is in an open area in the first
map of the game. Three resolutions of 1024x768, 1280x1024, and 1680x1050 (wide
screen) are used with in-game settings as identified below. A minimum of three
runs through each benchmark were made with an average recorded as the final
S.T.A.L.K.E.R - Settings
S.T.A.L.K.E.R - Buildings Demo Results
S.T.A.L.K.E.R - Short Demo Results
Static Lighting mode the Inno3D 8600GTS XStriker3 could easily
run 100+ FPS with all in-game settings maxed-out at 1680x1050 and
can run at higher resolutions. For me the dynamic lighting is a significant part
of the game so I did not pursue this any further. Instead, I selected
Dynamic Lighting' mode (this enables 'Lighting Distance' and 'Shadows Quality'
in Advanced menu) in the BASIC menu screen and set quality to MAXIMUM (this
enables 'Sun Shadow' in Advanced menu). In the
ADVANCE menu I set the 'Vision Distance' slider to approximately 60%, 'Objects
to about 85%, 'Grass Density' to a full 100%, 'Textures Detail' to about 75%,
'Anisotropic Filtering' to 100%, dropped 'Antialiasing' slider to '0', activated
'Sun Shadow', de-activated 'Grass Shadow', set 'Lighting Distance' to about 25%, activated
'NPC Flashlights', and set
'Shadows Quality' slider to 100%. At these settings the above results were taken
from the two recorded in-game timedemos.
The 'Buildings Demo' with the heavy bump mapping appeared to apply the most
stress with the settings that I selected, and of course revealed the lowest FPS
results. The 'Short Demo' from the open area timedemo gives an alternative look.
A temperature test using nTune in this benchmark revealed an increase in temps
from idle of 47C to to a maximum of 54C during the benchmark. At the lowest resolution tested, 1024x768, the 8600GTS XStriker3 breezed through the
benchmarks at a pace indicating potential for further tweaking of the in-game
settings. Instead, I went on to the 1280x1024 resolution, which I prefer, but
found that increasing the 'Vision Distance', the 'Objects Detail', Textures Detail',
'Lighting Distance', and 'Antialiasing' in any combination was just too much for the
card to handle, plummeting the frame rates into the 20's.
While the capabilities of the stream processors are becoming more and more
apparent, even at a limited number of 32, the performance they generate is
outpacing the previous generation and that of the competition. However, the
performance the 128-bit memory bus looks to be the hold up when in comes to
maintaining maximum settings and upping the resolution in games like
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. At 1280x1024 I could find no way to increase 'View Distance' and
either 'Objects' or 'Textures Detail' and maintain 'Lighting Distance' and
'Shadows Quality' at present settings. Nor could I increase 'Lighting Distance'
above the setting I have selected and no way could I activate 'Grass Shadow' as
either just generated too severe a hit at this resolution.
I took a lot of
time and went through a lot of trouble to sort this all out to determine what settings I liked best and
would work well. If you like the game I think you will agree with me on at least one thing, once you
have played the game with 'Full Dynamic Lights' it is difficult to go back to
'Static Lighting' mode (or even DX9 with 'Map Lights') and dropping the resolution is not such a bad idea.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R - Short Demo Results
I am impressed with the capabilities of Inno3D's iChill cooling application on
the 8600GTS XStriker3. I purposely overclocked the GPU another 9% (761MHz) above
the factory setting of 705MHz to generate more heat stress. This tactic did not
seem to phase the iChill cooling solution at all, with the maximum recorded
temperature of 50C, as you can barely make out, recorded in the bottom nTune
graph above rising from the starting idle temp of 44C and tampering off toward
the finish of the benchmark. This overclock of the GPU was just for testing the
capabilities of the cooling solution on this video card and not used in the
Having logged several gaming sessions with the Inno3D iChill 8600GTS
XStriker3, I can say that it has provided enjoyable gameplay at 1280x1024 with the above listed in-game
'tweaked' settings averaging mid-50s FPS while running stable, quiet, and,
above all else, staying cool.