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NickSpolec
03-30-04, 05:00 AM
The trend I am speaking of is the insane requirements to fully play some newer games at their intended level of graphics. Need for Speed: Underground, Splinter Cell: PT, FarCry, most certainly Doom 3 and Half Life 2. I could go on, I'm sure.

This hit me bold in the face when I could barely play Splinter Cell: PT and FarCry at even respectable frame rates, even on lowered graphic settings (I need not even mention the recommendations of Splinter Cell: PT... GeForce FX or Radeon 9800 hardware? What?). Certainly, it is my GF3 hanging me. But this is what makes me particularly upset: There is no way you could convince me that the GF3 has been completely tapped and is outdated. It's simply that developers have moved on and forced it to be outdated. If Mr. "King of the Geeks" himself (John Carmack) claims that Doom 3 is based on technology introduced with the original Geforce and DX7, then it's obvious that there should be no reason why DX8 and DX8 level hardware are even on the fringe of having their potential exposed. What wonders could they create if they were focused on?

It seems quite obvious to me that developers are trying to FORCE the environment of "Upgrade every 6 months" on the average PC gamer. This is one reason why I like consoles more then PC's when it comes to gaming --- I know I won't have to upgrade for at least 3 years. PC hardware always tends to be on the verge of being outdated.

I'm not saying I CAN'T play some of the newer games. It's just the sacrifices that have to be made to the visual quality to gain a respectable frame rate is depressing. What would it take to play these games how the developer intended? Why do you need such an outrageous config to meet that? And it makes me wonder why. Max Payne 2 is a brilliant example of how a game can look good and run like a dream (which is does one my GeForce3), even on "Not so new" hardware. Why can't more games be like that?

I hate to sound like I'm whining, but if this continues, then it's going to be a horrible path for the PC game industry. I wish developers would pick a generation of hardware to exploit and settle on that, instead of immediately migrating to the next API revision when it's released.

I hope that the current generation of video cards prove to be more future proof then the previous video card generations are appearing to be. But then again, who knows when the next "FarCry" will come out, requiring a R500 or NV50 to be able to achieve respectable frame rates at what the developers intend the game to look like.

Sazar
03-30-04, 09:07 AM
I think its rather legit... the requirements that is...

cpu's of today should be able to handle the games well enough I think but the gpu's do have a little problem...

I wanna see the frame rates that the nv40/r420 combo opens up with todays' cpu's

I can't really stand in the way of innovation... though I have to keep in mind with my first gfx card I was unable to play ANY of the newer games @ the time (like deus ex and so on/so forth) @ anything more than 800x600 levels and crawling round @ around 10-15 fps... so I can't really complain...

Vash
03-30-04, 09:26 AM
Snake, I've got basically the same system that you do, save that I have a Radeon 9500->9700 softmod w/OC to Pro, and 1 GB of RAM. Believe it or not, that GB of RAM really helps. The difference between 256 and 512 (in WinXP) is not much larger than the 512/1 GB difference.

Yeah, the GF3 is a bit old. It's not that it's technology is old that's dragging games, it's that newer cards are faster, generally have more onboard RAM, and (with the newest generation) are DX9 parts. Being a DX9 part goes a long way toward speeding things up - DX9 games can run as DX8 or DX7 games, but they still have to do all the stuff that the game requires, and since it was designed for DX9, it suffers on previous generation cards.

I've found that upgrading your video card once a year keeps you up to date without breaking the bank. I try to get vid cards second hand from friends that have the upgrade bug, too - that helps. But right now, if you did some research and put down about $120 for a 9500 NP that was capable of taking a Softmod, your system would be great.

*double checks Snake system specs*

An Athlon XP Mobile? Do you have a laptop? Laptop gaming performance is always behind desktop gaming performance - that may be your problem right there.

marqmajere
03-30-04, 09:29 AM
I'm the complete opposite here. I was tired of seeing games that only needed 500mhz procs and Geforce2's to play when we have 2.0+ghz procs avalible at reasonable prices. These new games make me feel like my purchase of the latest and greatest hardware is justified.

Noone thinks they have to upgrade anymore I guess. They expect the newest games to play on thier aging 7000's and Geforce2's with super high grapics enables and that just isn't the case. Heck. Most people still play games that are 3-5 years old still. I still play UT, Mechwarrior 4, Diablo 2, Everquest, and a slew of older games that don't even require a fraction of the power my rig can generate. I DO realize, however, that if I want to be able to play Doom 3, Farcry, HL2, and such, it wont be on a 1ghz pentium 3, 256 pc 133, and a Radeon 7000 and I WILL want to play these games when they come out. Either **** or get off the pot.

marqmajere
03-30-04, 09:33 AM
*double checks Snake system specs*

An Athlon XP Mobile? Do you have a laptop? Laptop gaming performance is always behind desktop gaming performance - that may be your problem right there.

Those Barton mobiles are some of the best overclockers. He's got a very nice proc there.

I do agree with Vash though. Upgrading you vid card to something newer won't break the bank and will be enough to handle the new games.

|JuiceZ|
03-30-04, 10:17 AM
I feel your pain snake but I completely agree w/ whats posted below.

I'm the complete opposite here. I was tired of seeing games that only needed 500mhz procs and Geforce2's to play when we have 2.0+ghz procs avalible at reasonable prices. These new games make me feel like my purchase of the latest and greatest hardware is justified.

I'm so tired of seeing us debate and purchase the lastest/greatest enthusiasts products only for devs to continue to write games for outdated hardware. Its long been time to see more scalable engines that make the most of out the products availible today and yet offer acceptable performance older generations products.

With excellent cards like the 9800NP or 5900SE availible for $200 or less, thats more than a reasonable option for a low-cost performance upgrade.

SuLinUX
03-30-04, 10:22 AM
One does wounder if developes are following the MS trend and fattening code out so you have to buy better hardware, the crytech engine ran well on a GeForce 3 a few years ago.

MrTexTure
03-30-04, 11:13 AM
I'm so tired of seeing us debate and purchase the lastest/greatest enthusiasts products only for devs to continue to write games for outdated hardware. Its long been time to see more scalable engines that make the most of out the products availible today and yet offer acceptable performance older generations products.

With excellent cards like the 9800NP or 5900SE availible for $200 or less, thats more than a reasonable option for a low-cost performance upgrade

I feel that absolut too ..Of course you need a spicy speck machine for the newest games and thats whats called "Evolution" and thats the nice thing about Pc Gaming ;-) or else all Games would have loked like Quake 1 hehe

jbirney
03-30-04, 11:49 AM
Sorry NickSpolec but it does sound like your winning a bit. No offense ment. But there has always been new games that required you to updated. Remember Q3 when it first came out? We were stuck on TNT(2)s and V3 at the time on P2 at 300Mhz struggling to get more than 30 fps at max IQ. How about the first time you got Unreal/Tribes as the only way to play with those was with a new V3 card if you wanted decent IQ and/or Speed. Developers have to make a choice early on what type of hardware they want to target and either buy/build and engine to run it off. Its an extremly complicated task to write a really good engine that can handle of the "buzzword" features that people want and yet scale over 3/4 year hardware. Sooner or later they either have to move up their target level of hardware or miss out on features. As a developer you want to sell you game to the biggest amount you can but if your game lacks features it may not sell well. Vise versa if your hardware requirements are too step it also will hurt sales. DX9 games are just now starting to come out and we have had DX9 for over 18 months now. All of these games can run on a lower DX card which is good but I don't see how that is too unreasonable of a target. Would you rather buy that new card and not have 1/2 of its features every get used because developers are "dumming" down their games to run on all the older hardware? Again I do feel your pain that upgrading is not an easy task for all of use (meaning sometimes we just dont have the money to spend on an upgrade). But the computer indrustry is founding on pushing things along and games are the biggest pusher atm....

-=DVS=-
03-30-04, 12:22 PM
I'm the complete opposite here. I was tired of seeing games that only needed 500mhz procs and Geforce2's to play when we have 2.0+ghz procs avalible at reasonable prices. These new games make me feel like my purchase of the latest and greatest hardware is justified.

Noone thinks they have to upgrade anymore I guess. They expect the newest games to play on thier aging 7000's and Geforce2's with super high grapics enables and that just isn't the case. Heck. Most people still play games that are 3-5 years old still. I still play UT, Mechwarrior 4, Diablo 2, Everquest, and a slew of older games that don't even require a fraction of the power my rig can generate. I DO realize, however, that if I want to be able to play Doom 3, Farcry, HL2, and such, it wont be on a 1ghz pentium 3, 256 pc 133, and a Radeon 7000 and I WILL want to play these games when they come out. Either **** or get off the pot.

I feel same , why are we upgradeing our systems if games still look like s*** im realy happy devs are pushing it to the MAX :D
Offcourse not everyone can upgrade so games should be scalable !

poursoul
03-30-04, 12:38 PM
i don't get it nick, i'm running a GF4Ti4200 64MB with a P4 1.6 512MB of SDRAM and i can play SC: PT just great maxed out. No AA or AF of course, but your system creams mine with the exception of the videocard and that's only by a hair.

Nitz Walsh
03-30-04, 12:43 PM
I'm not saying I CAN'T play some of the newer games. It's just the sacrifices that have to be made to the visual quality to gain a respectable frame rate is depressing. What would it take to play these games how the developer intended? Why do you need such an outrageous config to meet that? And it makes me wonder why. Max Payne 2 is a brilliant example of how a game can look good and run like a dream (which is does one my GeForce3), even on "Not so new" hardware. Why can't more games be like that?

First off, not all programmers are created equal. This is not a PC-specific thing by any means, and it's far better today than it was in past years where a decent game-playing rig was $1500-$2000, and games that ran at 60fps were an extremely rarity. A 9800-Pro 512meg system with a good CPU can be had for under $1000 easily these days - the "high end" has never been cheaper (as you should know judging by the wise selection of components you've picked out for your system, sans the videocard.:))

Secondly, you're comparing a game like Max Payne2 - which certainly looks very nice and is well optimized, and comparing it to Far Cry/Doom3/Half Life 2? Are you kidding me? MP2 has nice textures, some blurring effects...and...that's about it. It's a world apart from something like Far Cry which has insane draw distances, very intelligent AI, bump mapping out the wazoo, advanced physics, huge levels, etc. MP2's artwork is excellent, however in terms of advanced effects and truly bringing something to the table we've never seen before like Far Cry, it doesn't measure up. Far Cry is perhaps the most gorgeous game ever created and may also have some of the best AI - you're damn right you're going to need a beefy system to play it with everything maxxed. Why shouldn't you?

Something like the PC version of Enter the Matrix, which chugs to ~15fps on a 3ghz P4 and looks like a 4 year old game, certainly deserves a big ol' rolleyes emoticon - that's pure developer incompetence, no doubt about it. Titles like HL2, Doom3/ Far Cry however, clearly demonstrate where that power is going. Sure, the technique Doom3 uses "works" on a Geforce3 - but don't expect it to look anything like the shots you've seen, and it certainly won't run smoothly.

You seem to want to have your cake and eat it too. You want to play games at their highest settings which allow them to justify the hardware expenditure, but also run just as well on nearly 3-year old hardware with the same settings. Then, you state this is why you prefer console games - wtf? You're going to be in for a rude awakening if you believe Doom3 or FarCry on Xbox will resemble the experience of playing those games on a P4 3ghz with a 9800 (which actually won't be that much of a high-end system by the time D3 arrives). And that's with the Xbox which is the most powerful console system - those games won't be on the PS2/Gamecube at all, as they simply aren't capable of them.

Choice is good if the choices do indeed allow you to sacrifice visual fidelity for performance (sometimes games will have detail settings that actually do very little for performance which I hate). It's one of the good things about PC gaming. I can play a good-looking title on my current hardware, and know that when/if I decide to upgrade, I can go back to that game and max out the details and enjoy the experience all over again - that's what justifies these expensive video cards, it's what they do for your entire software library right out of the box. Would you have no cause for complaint if Far Cry used PS 1.1 only and didn't have the option for 2.0? Instead of massive draw distances, had a fixxed fogging plane? Had retarded AI instead of the cunning tactics they emply? Dumbed-down physics?

Basically, you want to play modern games but don't want to drop the details down to console-level, at the same time noting that you prefer to play games on consoles because you don't have the option of changing any detail levels to suit your personal prefernces regarding performance.

Uh...ok. :screwy:

Nitz Walsh
03-30-04, 12:57 PM
i don't get it nick, i'm running a GF4Ti4200 64MB with a P4 1.6 512MB of SDRAM and i can play SC: PT just great maxed out. No AA or AF of course, but your system creams mine with the exception of the videocard and that's only by a hair.
Same card as me, but don't forget the GF4 series have dual vertex shaders as opposed to the GF3's one (the Xbox has dual vertex shaders as well), and more bandwidth optimization. Depending on the title it can usually make quite a bit of difference.

Nick is simply using a very old videocard, period - it's a huge bottleneck in his system. My GF4 4200 is about 2 years old by now and I'm still waiting for 9800 pro prices to drop even a little bit further. Snake's CPU is blazing, his motherboard is great - heck, even a $100 regular non-pro 9600 would be a huge boost over his GF3, and looking through pricewatch that will even get you a 256 MB model.

NickSpolec
03-30-04, 01:02 PM
I'm so tired of seeing us debate and purchase the lastest/greatest enthusiasts products only for devs to continue to write games for outdated hardware. Its long been time to see more scalable engines that make the most of out the products availible today and yet offer acceptable performance older generations products.

I'm not disagreeing with that, but it's only true if they are developing a game so it can be played on a GF2 MX. The GF2 class of cards is nothing like the GF3/GF4/Radeon 8500 line of cards.


Sorry NickSpolec but it does sound like your winning a bit.

Ok, I'm not going to quote you further because I think I need to point something out.

This is NOT about me and my own pit of sorrow, having a card that can't pull it's own in today's games. I don't really care about that.. I will probably get a newer card in a month or so. But even when I do this issue won't go away for me. Because this is about is PC developers developing their games based on outrageous systems to achieve their visuals, when they could achieve similar visuals on lesser hardware if they actually put more effort into it. And they could certainly get more out of the brand new hardware if they focused on that. The Radeon 9x00/GeForce FX series of cards are very powerful, and could do AMAZING things. But will we ever truly see games that REALLY take advantage of these hardware? Or will developers only briefly attempt to exploit their abilities before moving on?

I guess it really comes down to PC developer LAZINESS. It's as if they are unwilling to put in the LEAST amount of effort exploiting existing hardware to get good frames/good visuals, and instead simply want the next best thing because it means that much less work to get those same good frames/good visuals. Why spend any time trying to optimize a game for lasts generation's cards when the new generation is twice as powerful, and doesn't need much optimization at all to get the same level of performance?

It's like the PC game industry is cannibalizing the hardware industry.. You never get to find out what a card can truly do because developers don't seem to care to actually try and exposed it.

That's what this all comes down too.

And if anyone makes the BS argument that "Well, I hate it when the developers make a game playable on old hardware". Get your facts straight. The GF3 may be old, but it is certainly not outdated when it comes to power OR ability. It is only by the standards of development cycles is it outdated. Which is complete BS.

I also don't want to hear about how the PC is about upgrading. It's only becase the sloppy, unfocused world that the PC industry seems to be. It's how we are being pushed to upgrade. "Why even spend any time optimizing when newer, faster hardware is coming out?"

and i can play SC: PT just great maxed out.

What's your definition of "just great"? Want to put up some numbers? What resolution?


Basically, you want to play modern games but don't want to drop the details down to console-level, at the same time noting that you prefer to play games on consoles because you don't have the option of changing any detail levels to suit your personal prefernces regarding performance.

Bullsh*t I never said ANYTHING to the likes of "you want to play modern games but don't want to drop the details down to console-level". Don't try and twist my words around.

Simply refer to my previous paragraph.

NickSpolec
03-30-04, 01:30 PM
I'm going to backtrack a little to cover the other replies that I skipped over "get to the meat".



I've found that upgrading your video card once a year keeps you up to date without breaking the bank. I try to get vid cards second hand from friends that have the upgrade bug, too - that helps. But right now, if you did some research and put down about $120 for a 9500 NP that was capable of taking a Softmod, your system would be great.

*double checks Snake system specs*

An Athlon XP Mobile? Do you have a laptop? Laptop gaming performance is always behind desktop gaming performance - that may be your problem right there.


1) I did used to have a 9500 NP (256bit) that softmodded. Key word is DID.

2) It's a mobile processor in a desktop system. I was wishing for 2.7ghz on air out (and a max volts of 1.850) of it, but I was only really hoping to get 2.5ghz, which I did. If I had water cooling or a refridge setup, I'm sure I could get to 2.7ghz using 1.950 volts or higher. But there is no way I will go past 1.850 on air cooling (though my idle is only around 28 - 32c, and load around 36 to 42c).




Noone thinks they have to upgrade anymore I guess. They expect the newest games to play on thier aging 7000's and Geforce2's with super high grapics enables and that just isn't the case. Heck. Most people still play games that are 3-5 years old still. I still play UT, Mechwarrior 4, Diablo 2, Everquest, and a slew of older games that don't even require a fraction of the power my rig can generate. I DO realize, however, that if I want to be able to play Doom 3, Farcry, HL2, and such, it wont be on a 1ghz pentium 3, 256 pc 133, and a Radeon 7000 and I WILL want to play these games when they come out. Either **** or get off the pot.


You comparing the relatively weak GF2 and Radeon 7000 to the Geforce3? I understand your argument, "PC developers shouldn't focus on old hardware", but that would only be valid if the GF3 was underpowered, which it isn't. It is very capable hardware.

Nutty
03-30-04, 02:15 PM
PC developers are lazy.. not like us console coders.. ;)

"Too slow?! Dang.. lets wait a few months till NV/ATI make some new hardware, then stick it on the shelf".

"Crashes?! Ahh ship it, we'll do a patch next week.. "

etc.. :)

NickSpolec
03-30-04, 02:18 PM
"Too slow?! Dang.. lets wait a few months till NV/ATI make some new hardware, then stick it on the shelf".

EXACTLY my point.

DiscipleDOC
03-30-04, 02:53 PM
I'm glad that the dev's are optimizing our systems, but I wish they would do some more R&D for Linux systems now.

jbirney
03-30-04, 02:55 PM
But even when I do this issue won't go away for me. Because this is about is PC developers developing their games based on outrageous systems to achieve their visuals, when they could achieve similar visuals on lesser hardware if they actually put more effort into it. And they could certainly get more out of the brand new hardware if they focused on that. The Radeon 9x00/GeForce FX series of cards are very powerful, and could do AMAZING things. But will we ever truly see games that REALLY take advantage of these hardware? Or will developers only briefly attempt to exploit their abilities before moving on?

So if you know so much about devleopment when is your new game coming out again? Do you realize that these people are on very strict scedules? Do you know how much work it takes to make a game? I highly doubt it. I have been working on popular UT mod for years. Spend at least 20+ hrs a week on it in my spare time. And with a team of 10 of us we still have not done 1/2 the stuff we wanted to in the last year. And we are just making a simple mod. Multiply that by x100 for a game, then another x100 if we have to develope the engine. You make it sound so simple when in fact its a very difficult process to make a good game and still ship on time.

And if anyone makes the BS argument that "Well, I hate it when the developers make a game playable on old hardware". Get your facts straight. The GF3 may be old, but it is certainly not outdated when it comes to power OR ability. It is only by the standards of development cycles is it outdated. Which is complete BS.]

GF3 is fast enough? BS. It lacks many of the DX9 features that you simply can not do on a DX8 card. You can only optimize so much for the lower fill rate. Sooner or later you gonna to have to cut out effects in oder to get any decent playable framerate of the card.

Nutty
03-30-04, 02:58 PM
GF3 is fast enough? BS. It lacks many of the DX9 features that you simply can not do on a DX8 card. You can only optimize so much for the lower fill rate. Sooner or later you gonna to have to cut out effects in oder to get any decent playable framerate of the card.

Its not about features, it about using the available power to its fullest..
tbh, I've seen alot more impressive stuff on Xbox, which is only a 733Mhz cpu, and a slow GF3 with an extra vertex unit, than similar stuff on pc, given the same specs.

Because its a fixed spec, developers can hand tune the code to the hardware, and you get more out of it. With PC development, because theres soo much to cater for, you dont have the luxury of optimizing every specific card as much.

John Carmack said, that he reckoned he could get another 20% performance out the doom3 engine, if he coded the Xbox version, because he could tune the engine to match the Xbox hardware perfectly, rather than being a balance of all pc hardware.

Edge
03-30-04, 09:27 PM
I don't think PC games are being over-demanding. Remember: even a GF3 will play almost any recent game just fine at 800x600 or 1024x768 resolution, and for a 3 year old card I'd say that's pretty impressive. It would've been like using a Voodoo 3 in 2002. On my XP2000 with a TI4200, I can run Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomarrow just fine at 1152x864 resolution with lvl2 aniso, and I'd say that's more than enough. Could it be better? Of course, but new cards are ALWAYS going to have the luxury of being able to run games at max settings, while older cards will have to tone down a few options to look good. Also with Max Payne 2, remember that they had a long time to tweak that engine and really get a lot more out of the cards. Hell, Max Payne 1 probably ran WORSE!

But the Geforce 3 is still a powerful card. DX9 features are nothing major, and the clockspeeds on it are still decent (even a TI200 has RAM as fast as a 9600 card). Obviously, it's not AS GOOD AS recent cards, but if you spent $400 on a GF3 when it was released, I think by now, 3 years later, you've gotten more than your money's worth out of it.

BTW Nutty, when you've coded games for consoles have you noticed any big performance improvements you were able to code because it was a fixed platform? I mean like certain effects practically being "free" on a console when on the PC it would've been hard to impliment and a drain on resources? Oh, and you never did answer the question I asked about the Gamecube's shaders in that Serious Sam 2 thread ;)
But in any case, congradulations on your 1000th post :)

Arrghman
03-30-04, 09:30 PM
How is this a recent trend?

Original Quake looked pretty good, but GLQuake looked MUCH better... and you had to buy an entierly seperate video accelerator to do that! This has been the case since 3D accelerators were available, and is nothing new at all. Heck, I remember trying to play Wing Commander II on my old IBM computer when I was but a young lad and my 1x CD drive couldn't stream the cutscenes from the CD to the screen fast enough... it probably required a 2x. So instead I got choppy animation and I just had to deal with it until I could convince my parents that a faster CD drive was the most important thing to buy in the whole world ;)

And not only that but you can only scale back an engine so far before it starts degrading the gameplay or creating too much production time. In games where physics engines are actually integral to the gameplay (Max Payne 2, HL2....) you can't just turn off the physics system so the CPU isn't as heavily loaded because now your changing the way the game is meant to be played. Similarly with graphics, you also can't realistically have 20 LODs for all the game assets because this would greatly increase the production time (even if a program was used to generate lower poly versions of the existing models, UV coords would probably have to be done by hand, or at least tweaked) and also increase the amount of size the game takes up (UT2K4 on 8+ CD's would really be pushing it!)

The PC gaming industry has always been pushing forward towards higher requirements because the average gamer's computer keeps rising in requirements. Until some sort of bottleneck in PC hardware is reached (who really knows what's going to happen in 10 years when we can't shrink transistors any smaller?), then this trend is just going to continue.

SuLinUX
03-30-04, 10:02 PM
Its not about features, it about using the available power to its fullest..
tbh, I've seen alot more impressive stuff on Xbox, which is only a 733Mhz cpu, and a slow GF3 with an extra vertex unit, than similar stuff on pc, given the same specs.

Because its a fixed spec, developers can hand tune the code to the hardware, and you get more out of it. With PC development, because theres soo much to cater for, you dont have the luxury of optimizing every specific card as much.

John Carmack said, that he reckoned he could get another 20% performance out the doom3 engine, if he coded the Xbox version, because he could tune the engine to match the Xbox hardware perfectly, rather than being a balance of all pc hardware.

Yer, PC has bottlenecks everywhere, bus, AGP, driver, ect... consoles have non of that, like you say the hardware is fix with no bottlenecks.

Edge
03-31-04, 02:16 AM
Uhh, I certainly wouldn't go as far as saying the PS2 has NO bottlenecks :D

NickSpolec
03-31-04, 02:20 AM
So if you know so much about devleopment when is your new game coming out again?

Maybe another year. At least, that's when I hope to have most of it done.. I hope.


Because its a fixed spec, developers can hand tune the code to the hardware, and you get more out of it. With PC development, because theres soo much to cater for, you dont have the luxury of optimizing every specific card as much.

But lets say PC developers picked a fixed PC hardware setup to develop on. Such as, a 1.8ghz CPU (P4 or Athlon), 166FSB system, 256MB's or DDR333 ram, DX8 class video card, SBLive... If they could focus their development on that type of system, then theoretically, couldn't they really exploit it? And couldn't that same type of setup bring you the exact experience (speed and graphics wise) the PC developers intended and wanted? While still giving room to decrease the visuals (or increase them with AA and AF)?

Remember: even a GF3 will play almost any recent game just fine at 800x600 or 1024x768 resolution, and for a 3 year old card I'd say that's pretty impressive.

No way. There is no way I can play either FarCry and Splinter Cell: PT at 1024x768, even on the low graphic settings. Hell, even 800x600 is pushing it...