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Prolink GeForce3 Ti 200 Review with NVIDIA's nForce
By: Mike Chambers - January 8, 2002

Direct 3D Performance

Graphically robust Direct 3D games are becoming of age and even NVIDIA has put together their Power of 3D web page which contains a list of NVIDIA recommended games. From the vast outdoor settings present in Giants and Black & White, to first person shooters like Max Payne, Red Faction and Alien vs. Predator 2, to sports games such as Madden NFL 2002. Role playing games have experienced a resurgance with titles such as Baldur's Gate II, Icewind Dale, Diablo II Lord of Destruction, Wizardry VIII, and the upcoming NeverWinter Nights.

Aliens vs Predator 2

Click To Enlarge - 89KB

Clive Parker's Undying

Click To Enlarge - 132KB

During the couse of this review, I played many of these titles on the Prolink GeForce3 Ti 200 and nForce and was treated with an enjoyable gaming experience. And keep in mind that this was done under the Windows XP operating system.

Direct 3D Performance - IL-2 Sturmovik

A dilemma that graphics card reviewers have faced is that many Direct 3D games don't contain a built-in benchmarking feature. FRAPS, which is often used in hardware reviews at flight simulation web sites, is a utility that measures a Direct 3D applications frame rate. Since the new flight sim IL-2 Sturmovik can be run under Direct 3D, I chose to use FRAPS to measure performance on the Prolink GeForce3 Ti 200.

IL2-Sturmovik - GeForce 3 Setting

Click To Enlarge - 206KB

There is a certain overhead associated with drawing the framerate on screen, but a new feature of FRAPS is the ability to log minimum, average, and maximum frame rates. FRAPS can also be used to measure the relative performance between two graphics cards. The following results are based on playing back the Cobra3 demo which runs for 6 minutes and 30 seconds. Note that this demo does not use the cockpit view and therefore may not be indicative of actual gameplay. The GeForce3 graphics mode was used which contains a high level of graphics quality. However, I did modify one setting by using trilinear instead of anisotropic texture filtering. Sound was disabled.

IL-2 Sturmovik - Cobra3 Demo - 32-Bit Color

Resolution/
AA Mode
NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 500 Prolink GeForce3 Ti 200
1024x768
No AA
Avg: 111
Min: 40
Max: 186
Avg: 103
Min: 35
Max: 149
1024x768
2X
Avg: 82
Min: 26
Max: 151
Avg: 67
Min: 22
Max: 109
1024x768
Quincunx
Avg: 71
Min: 25
Max: 105
Avg: 54
Min: 19
Max: 81
1024x768
4X
Avg: 48
Min: 14
Max: 86
Avg: 38
Min: 8
Max: 65
1280x960
No AA
Avg: 90
Min: 32
Max: 134
Avg: 70
Min: 22
Max: 108
1280x960
2X
Avg: 54
Min: 23
Max: 87
Avg: 41
Min: 15
Max: 67
1600x1200
No AA
Avg: 51
Min: 21
Max: 93
Avg: 44
Min: 17
Max: 71
1920x1440
No AA
Avg: 40
Min: 13
Max: 63
Avg: 30
Min: 10
Max: 48

The graphics quality in IL-2 Sturmovik is exceptional and have to think that this game will become the standard to which the next generation of flight sims will be measured against. Flight sims are known to be hardware intensive as maintaining 30 frames per second becomes a major feat.

IL-2 Sturmovik was the only game in this review that I didn't actually play. However, I had a number of enlightening e-mail exchanges with Bubba Wolford over at SimHQ who found that during his testing with IL-2 Sturmovik, the cockpit view was much more graphically intensive than the plane view. To get an idea of performance using a cockpit view, check out his dual Athlon MP 1900+ review which contains results from a GeForce3 Ti 500. Bubba's results are based on actual gameplay with every graphics setting maximized (which doesn't happen even when GeForce3 mode is selected).

The following screenshots compare Qunicnux antialiasing image quality between Direct 3D and OpenGL. They didn't turn out to be from the exact same position, but are close enough for comparison. The screenshots on the left contain no antialiasing, while the screenshots on the right use Quincunx. Center your attention on the clarity of the textures on the side of the aircraft and the use of antialiasing on the landscape.

Antialiasing Comparison - IL-2 Sturmovik

D3D - No AA D3D - Quincunx AA
Click To Compare Antialiasing Modes Click To Compare Antialiasing Modes
OGL - No AA OGL - Quincunx AA
Click To Compare Antialiasing Modes Click To Compare Antialiasing Modes

Direct 3D Performance - Master Rallye

During the couse of a graphics card review, I try to find demos of new games to test. I ran upon the off-road racing sim Master Rallye which was very entertaining. Again, I used FRAPS to measure performance although these results are based on gameplay as opposed to playing back an included demo. In this case, I raced against a single opponent on the Italy track which concluded when I reached the main town. The race lasted around 100 seconds and enough frames were measured to provide a ballpark figure for performance. All in-graphics settings were at their maximum level and music and sound effects were both enabled during these tests.

Master Rallye - 4X Antialiasing

Click To Enlarge - 176KB

Master Rallye Performance - 32-Bit Color

Resolution/
AA Mode
NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 500 Prolink GeForce3 Ti 200
1024x768
No AA
Avg: 134
Min: 111
Max: 161
Avg: 100
Min: 78
Max: 130
1024x768
Quincunx
Avg: 68
Min: 55
Max: 81
Avg: 50
Min: 42
Max: 60
1024x768
4X
Avg: 48
Min: 38
Max: 57
Avg: 37
Min: 29
Max: 46
1280x1024
No AA
Avg: 88
Min: 77
Max: 105
Avg: 66
Min: 52
Max: 77
1280x1024
2X
Avg: 48
Min: 40
Max: 56
Avg: 37
Min: 31
Max: 44
1280x1024
Quincunx
Avg: 41
Min: 35
Max: 48
Avg: 30
Min: 25
Max: 36
1600x1200
No AA
Avg: 62
Min: 54
Max: 75
Avg: 47
Min: 36
Max: 56
1920x1440
No AA
Avg: 42
Min: 35
Max: 52
Avg: 31
Min: 24
Max: 38
2048x1536 *
No AA
Avg: 52
Min: 43
Max: 61
Avg: 38
Min: 27
Max: 50
* - defaults to 16-bit color

With the Prolink GeForce3 Ti 200, there are a variety of settings at your disposal that will provide good performance in racing sims. Even with 2X antialiasing enabled at a resolution of 1280x1024, I was getting a minimum of 31 frames per second. The GeForce3 Ti 500 allows you to experiment with even more high quality graphics settings.

Direct 3D Performance - Nascar 2002

As I was very close to completing this review, Papyrus released a playable demo of Nascar 2002 which includes native support for anisotropic texture filtering. Unfortunatly FRAPS wasn't able to capture the frame rate, but the game contains an in-game frame rate counter. This test is geared more towards image quality as opposed to performance, but the frame rate does appear in the upper left corner of the images used in the comparison.

A handy feature of Nascar 2002 is the ability to play back a recorded race and freeze a frame at a particular location which allows different graphics settings to be compared using the exact same image. In this test, the following graphics settings were compared at a resolution of 1024x768 on the Prolink GeForce3 Ti 200 only:

  • No antialiasing - no anisotropic texture filtering - 50 fps
  • No antialiasing - anisotropic texture filtering - 40 fps
  • Quincunx antialiasing - no anisotropic texture filtering - 42 fps
  • Quincunx antialiasing - anisotropic texture filtering - 30 fps

Clicking on the image below will bring up the comparison page. Note that each image is full size (over 150KB) which will cause the page to load slowly, but provides a much better viewing of the differences between each setting.

Nascar 2002 - Image Quality Comparison

Click To Compare Image Quality

They say a picture can be worth a thousand words. Well, what about comparing four pictures? Focus your attention on the following areas:

  • The text at the top and botton of the image.
  • The clarity and detail of textures on the cars.
  • The track (finish line and in the distance).
  • The grassy area to the left of the track.
  • The word Atlanta on the side wall.
  • The top of the light poles.
  • Edges (cars, shadows, wall, grass, etc.).

In this example, I think the best image quality is associated with the combination of Quincunx antialiasing and anisotropic texture filtering. Notice how well anisotropic texture filtering clears up the number 5 on the top of the Kellog's race car - even when Qunincunx is used.

Next Page: Direct 3D Performance Continued

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Last Updated on January 8, 2002

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