Publisher: Valve Software
Counter-Strike: Source is one of the most widely played online titles in the world at the moment, making it an excellent test of mid-range hardware capability. Several levels (including Train, Militia, and Nuke) feature Valve's interpretation of high-dynamic range rendering. We used the most recent version of the game, and did three five minute portions of real world game play on the Militia map. We created a server on our internal network with 15 bots hosted on a different machine on the network.
Anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering were controlled from inside the game, and thus the drivers were left set to "Application Controlled". There are three options for the method of HDR used in this title. You can either disable HDR completely, make use of "Bloom" which is just what it says and less resource hungry in comparison to "Full" which, again is just what it says. It utilises a full dynamic range with the iris effect too.
We have written quite a bit about Half-Life 2: Lost Coast, Day of Defeat: Source, Episode One and how Valve have implemented HDR in to the Source Engine. You can check out the articles listed below for more information on The Lost Coast & Day of Defeat: Source.
Militia is probably the most stressful map in the game and it serves well as a worst-case scenario for testing purposes. Thankfully though, the game runs superbly on a wide range of hardware, while still looking absolutely stunning.
In Counter-Strike: Source, we found that the two NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GS video cards delivered a better gaming experience, as we were able to play the game at appreciably higher texture details. Textures were sometimes blurred on the Radeon X1600XT, as we encountered some hitching problems with Catalyst 6.8 with high quality textures.
The additional bandwidth available on the 3D Fuzion GeForce 7600 GS allowed us to further increase quality settings with 16xAF enabled. This allowed for much sharper texture details, on top of the more detailed textures to start with. There was no question that the 3D Fuzion GeForce 7600 GS delivered the best gaming experience of the three cards tested in Counter-Strike: Source.