|PowerColor Radeon HD5850 PCS+ Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Friday, 29 January 2010|
Page 12 of 17
STALKER Call of Pripyat Benchmark
The events of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat unfold shortly after the end of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. Having discovered about the open path to the Zone center, the government decides to hold a large-scale military "Fairway" operation aimed to take the CNPP under control. According to the operation's plan, the first military group is to conduct an air scouting of the territory to map out the detailed layouts of anomalous fields location. Thereafter, making use of the maps, the main military forces are to be dispatched. Despite thorough preparations, the operation fails. Most of the avant-garde helicopters crash. In order to collect information on reasons behind the operation failure, Ukraine's Security Service send their agent into the Zone center.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: CoP is developed on X-Ray game engine v.1.6, and implements several ambient occlusion (AO) techniques including one that AMD has developed. AMD's AO technique is optimized to run on efficiently on Direct3D11 hardware. It has been chosen by a number of games (e.g. BattleForge, HAWX, or the new Aliens vs Predator) for the distinct effect in it adds to the final rendered images. This AO technique is called HDAO which stands for ‘High Definition Ambient Occlusion' because it picks up occlusions from fine details in normal maps.
Put in simple terms, ambient light occlusion can be described as the parts of the scene where light finds it hard to reach. In the real world, light has to bounce off many surfaces in order to reach some places. Classically this problem is solved with a radiosity technique but this is usually too expensive for real-time applications. For this reason, various screen space techniques have been invented to emulate the effect of ambient occlusion.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat is a video game based on the DirectX 11 architecture and designed to use high-definition SSAO. If Benchmark Reviews were to test this game with the developers recommended settings for desired gaming experience, only the ATI Radeon HD 5000-series video cards would be tested. Having the good fortune to experience this free benchmark demo run through all four tests (Day, Night, Rain, Sun Shafts) with the highest settings possible (HDAO mode with Ultra SSAO quality), the Radeon HD5970 produced 30+ FPS (in the Day test) while the GTX295 looked like a slide show with 6 FPS. Needless to say, this wouldn't be the most educational way of testing video cards for our readers. For this reason alone, we reduced quality to DirectX 10 levels, and ran tests with SSAO off and then enabled with Default settings on our collection of higher-end video cards.
Without SSAO and using DX10 lighting, the (finally charted) HD4890 actually comes amazingly close to the reference stock Radeon HD 5850 with 42 FPS in the 'Day' test run, while both are well ahead of the GTX275's 32 FPS performance. PowerColor's HD5850 PCS+ climbs the FPS performance to 44.5 FPS without SSAO. The overclocked ASUS GeForce GTX 285 TOP rendered only 38 FPS on DX10 settings, which isn't very convincing argument for NVIDIA's current top-end product. The Radeon HD 5870 performed on-par with the GeForce GTX 295 using DX10 lighting and produced 51 FPS, but then the Radeon HD 5970 comes in and tacks on 42% gain for 75.1 FPS. That might not seem like good news for NVIDIA GeForce products, but it only gets worse.
Even though we've restrained the STALKER CoP tests to a meager DirectX 10 level, the benchmark allows us to add SSAO. There are three SSAO modes: Default, HBAO, and HDAO; this test uses Default. Each mode then has three SSAO levels of detail: Low, Medium, High, and specific to HDAO you can add Ultra. Our tests use the Default-High settings, which rank #3 out of 10 SSAO levels.
Again, the HD4890 (31.6 FPS) is somewhat close to the HD5850 (34.6 FPS) and HD5850 PCS+ (36.1 FPS), but the GeForce GTX 285 (21.6 FPS) is way below them all. The ATI Radeon HD 5870 flexes its lonely Cypress-XT GPU and squeezes out 41.9 FPS, all while looking down at the dual GT200-GPU NVIDIA GeForce GTX 295 video card. The GTX295 squeaks out 28.8 FPS using both GPUs, but then the ATI Radeon HD 5970 steps in and shows how it's to be done: 62.8 FPS (118% faster).
It seems evident that even DirectX 10 platforms favor the ATI Radeon 5000-series. It also seems that NVIDIA should have choose its words carefully when extolling DirectX 10 and condemning DirectX 11.