While it may be old and long in development, STALKER still packs some incredible graphics and really makes the 8800 cards work. I used the starting town as my test area, with the shop being the start and the top of the hill outside of the town being the finish. This allowed for both indoor and outdoor stressing as well as a number of different lighting situations and differing numbers of NPCs on screen at any given time. Plus, it was nighttime and raining, adding additional shadows and stress.
The settings in the below chart were used to test at both 2560x1600 and 1920x1200.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Engine Settings
The below charts illustrate minimum, average and maximum framerates at both 2560x1600 and 1920x1200.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Average Framerates
The graphs below illustrate each run through from the basement of the shop, up the stairs, down the street past all of the other Stalkers up to the hill overlooking the surround countryside.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Frames Per Second
I expected results similar to those of the Source Engine and Neverwinter Nights 2 but was pleasantly surprised to find that the 320MB GTS kept up reasonably well with the 640MB GTS at 2560x1600 (at least at the aggressive OC clocks) and very well at 1920x1200. Obviously additional memory for the sometimes large textures is a huge help, but this is also a game that appreciates raw speed.