CPU versus Videocard Scaling
Hello and welcome, now weeks ago both ATi and NVIDIA suddenly released a new family of graphics cards on the market, obviously we reacted immediately,you've seen our previews. So you think a Pentium 4 2.8 Gigahertz with 1 Gigabyte DDR400 memory would be sufficient for the hottest graphics cards ? Think again, as it is not fast enough at all. So we worked tirelessly through the night thinking up excuses ... for not bothering to test them ;)
So here's the thing, our recent reviews where showing a lot of CPU limitation on cards like Radeon x800 Pro and XT, GeForce 6800 GT and Ultra. What I noticed was simple, a lot of scores where close together or even equal. That's usually a strong indication that the GPU can't go any faster as it's awaiting data from the CPU, the processor. Our recent GeForce 6800 GT review for example showed that the GT and the Ultra are extremely close together when it came to the end-result which made me believe that the Ultra was not working at it's maximum capability.
Was a 2.8 Ghz system actually holding back performance of the new generation graphics cards ? Oh yeah, definitely. Make no mistake with such a system you'll get your 90% maximum performance, yet the new graphics cards are limited by such a CPU. In today's article we are going to look at the behavior of the new generation graphics cards by placing them in one of the fastest rigs available.
After I explained my little worry towards AMD they agreed to shop out an Athlon 64 3800+ which I could use to experiment a little with for a few weeks. The results are quite shocking ...
We took the Radeon x800 Pro and Radeon x800 XT, GeForce 6800 GT and GeForce 6800 Ultra and started measuring performance on that Pentium 4 2.8 GHz system and then did the exact same thing on the Athlon 64 3800+. Now before we beging I need to make clear that you need to see things in relation to the processor. A faster CPU obviously means a newer platform thus a newer mainboard and memory utilisation also. Primary the advantage will come from the CPU though.
If you like to learn more about the graphics cards used in this article then you can find the reference reviews with all technological explanations here: GeForce 6800 GT preview, GeForce 6800 Ultra Preview, Radeon x800 Pro & XT (PE) preview.
This article is not so much a shootout of both brands graphics cards, no contrary it has been made with one thing in mind. To observe the effect of the fastest processor around on the new graphics cards. We'll dive immediately into the benchmarks .. first up the test systems and then we'll start off with Splinter Cell.