Gameplay Evaluations - How We Tested:Please be aware that the way we test our video cards is not a like-for-like comparison, and it is not meant to be. We decided to concentrate on finding the "Best Playable" settings - this means that we're finding the best possible gaming experience delivered on each different configuration. There are no timedemos used in our evaluations - we're focusing on the real-world gaming experience, which is, ultimately what should determine your next video card purchase.
Rather than focusing on reporting the minimum and average frame rates for every configuration, we have decided to move the focus to resolution and settings. Thus, we are displaying our "Best Playable" resolutions and settings in a table that should be easier to understand than our previous format. If you take the logic that the higher the resolution and in game details, the faster the video card, you will not go far wrong.
We have also included a table of frame rates below the best-playable settings tables. These frame rates are recorded at the video card's best playable settings
and should not be considered as an 'apples to apples' frame rate comparison, as they are far from that. Many readers have asked us to include frame rates, and we feel that this is the best compromise for the time being. We will look at improving this in future reviews and your feedback is more than welcome in the discussion thread
Both of these video cards come at a reasonable price point. Since the introduction of Epox's EP-8NPA SLI, it has been possible for us to test mainstream or entry level video cards on a system that is ideally suited to the product. We chose a Sempron 3300+ CPU and 1GB of memory at conservative timings of 2.5-3-3-7 1T to run in our Socket 754 SLI-ready motherboard. You can read more about how the EP-8NPA SLI performs in other tests in our full review here
AMD Sempron 3300+ (operating at 2000MHz, 10x200MHz
); Epox EP-8NPA SLI (NVIDIA nForce4 SLI); 2 x 512MB Corsair XMS3200XL Pro (operating in single channel at 200MHz with 2.5-3-3-7 1T timings); Maxtor DiamondMax 10 250GB 7200RPM SATA 150 Hard disk drive; OCZ PowerStream 520W Power Supply; Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2; DirectX 9.0c; NVIDIA nForce4 Standalone chipset drivers, version 6.70.
- 1x MSI Radeon X1300 Pro 256MB - operating at its default clock speeds of 600/800MHz using Catalyst 5.11 WHQL with Catalyst Control Center, available from ATI.com.
- 2x XFX GeForce 6600 DDR2 - operating in both single card and SLI modes at their default clock speeds of 400/800MHz using Forceware 81.95 WHQL, available from NVIDIA.com.
- 1x NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GS 256MB - operating at its default clock speeds of 430/1000MHz using Forceware version 81.95 WHQL.
The video card drivers were left at their default settings (unless otherwise stated) with the exception of Vsync, which was disabled in all cases.
We have already established that the GeForce 6800 GS is a very good product for the money. It is our current choice for the mid-range price point around the £160-180 mark. You can read about its performance on a mid-range gaming system here
. We might find we are slightly limited by the system in our Sempron 3300+ rig, but it serves as a good price comparison for the XFX GeForce 6600 DDR2 SLI.