Before playing games, setting up your monitors contrast & brightness levels is a very important thing to do. I realized recently that a lot of you guys have set up your monitors improperly. How do we know this? Because we receive a couple of emails every now and then telling us that a reader can't distinguish between the benchmark charts (colors) in our reviews. We realized, if that happens, your monitor is not properly setup.
This simple test pattern is evenly spaced from 0 to 255 brightness levels, with no profile embedded. If your monitor is correctly set up, you should be able to distinguish each step, and each step should be roughly visually distinct from its neighbors by the same amount. As well, the dark-end step differences should be about the same as the light-end step differences. Finally, the first step should be completely black.
Gaming: Mass Effect
Controversial, new and definitely one of the bigger titles of the year. Mass Effect from BioWare. Originally released for the XBOX 360 it unveiled a vast, beautiful galaxy populated by diverse, fascinating alien races. Players stepped onto this stage as Commander Shepard, a hero at the vanguard of humanity's ascension in the arena of galactic politics, and thus began an epic story bolstered by engaging characters and rich, branching dialogue.
Set 200 years in the future in an epic universe, Mass Effect places gamers in a vast galactic community in danger of being conquered by a legendary agent gone rogue. A spectacular new vision from legendary developers BioWare, Mass Effect challenges players to lead a squad of freedom fighters as they struggle against threatening armies to restore peace in the land.
Mass Effect is one of the best games I have played this year. I just had to include it in our benchmark suite. We had to overcome some problems though, a framerate cap was removed and the game actually does not support AA. It does however show really awesome graphics, complex facial animations and applies a noise filter just to get you that really nice cinematic feeling. Overall one of the better games I've played this year so far.
Results: for today we'll take the reference GeForce GTX 260 core 216 graphics cards, in green color. Then we take the reference Radeon HD 4870 512MB and thus the new 1024MB model. If you feel the need to compare Radeon 4870 performance results to competing cards, please check out the VGA charts.
As you can see, the core 216 and 1GB 4870 are dead on with each other.
Mass Effect Settings:
Noise Filter on
Textures: Extreme high
Everything maxed out
Devil May Cry 4 - DirectX 10
Typically we're not quickly impressed with games these days from a graphical point of view. The game Devil May Cry however opens up a can of graphics that is just really impressive. We play the game in DX10 mode with every image quality setting available set to it's highest possible variable. The game itself - stylish action, terrific boss fights, and beautiful, melodramatic cut scenes will inspire you to push forward, and they serve as an appropriate reward for a well-played sequence of demon slaying.
On consoles, Devil May Cry 4 might be beautiful; on the PC in DirectX 10 mode, it completely overwhelms, what a fantastic looking title. Let's check out the performance.
Since we'll be using this test for a long time-frame we decided to measure at DirectX 10 with 8 multi-sample Anti-Aliasing levels enabled and all settings set to high. This is a really tough nut to crack for mid-range graphics cards (with these settings) but as you can see, the results are just fine, and good to use.
Image Quality Settings:
8x Multi Sample Anti-Aliasing
Textures: Super High
Shadows: Super High
Quality: Super High
Since we applied 8xAA here two things are happening, all NVIDIA cards have a really huge problem with 8xAA in this game for whatever reason. And secondly, look at the 512MB and 1024MB 4870 models, that's the extra memory kicking in in a hefty AA mode, just lovely.
AMD ATI Radeon HD 4870 1024MB review Today a test and review on the new AMD ATI Radeon HD 4870 1024MB. Obviously ATI is releasing a 1GB model to compete with the new Core 216 version of that GeForce GTX 260. The 4870 series really diggs that GDDR5 memory bandwidth, and what's the cheapest thing to do to gain some extra performance ? Increase the framebuffer volume. Now that by itself is not going to work miracles, yet in memory limited situations (loads of high quality textures, filtering and AA modes) it will help you here and there. And a little bit of extra bite is all the product needs to get beat that Core 216 card again.
AMD ATI Radeon HD 4850 Crossfire A review with Crossfire results as well, on the all new Radeon HD 4850 from Force3D and PowerColor. Definitely a review worth reading.
AMD ATI Radeon 3850 & 3870 review Today AMD will launch the Radeon 3000 series products, in specifically the Radeon HD 3850 and 3870. I'll give you a quick hint, these cards are roughly as fast a Radeon HD 2900 XT .. yet they are priced a very promising level; how does a price range of 149 to 249 USD sound ? See, performance wise a 149 USD Radeon HD 3850 will wipe the floor with the entire competitors GeForce 8500/8600 series easily and the 3870 will put up a great fight with the 8800 GTS. With new releases often also we can see a couple of new tricks. Today's announced products will see light of in the form of DirectX 10.1 support, the new UVD (video de/encoding) engine is now integrated opposed to the 2900 XT which didn't have it. Full PCI-Express 2.0 support, and a die-size based on 55nm to die for.