Testing the 3D Performance of Your PC with Doom 3 and Far Cry
By Gabriel Torres on February 16, 2005
Doom 3 and Far Cry are very heavy 3D games, using last generation image quality resources, which makes them excellent ways to test the 3D performance of your machine. Since the performance decrease when we increase the image quality, it is important that you use the same image quality resolution and configuration when comparing the performance of your machine against the performance of others.
The first step is to configure the resolution and the image quality you want to test and restart the game. Doom 3 has four levels of image quality: low, medium, high, and ultra. We recommend that you carry out tests at a 1024 x 768 resolution, with the low quality and then a new round of tests at high quality. If you have a 17" monitor or bigger, maybe it is also worth measuring the performance at 1280 x 1024 and at 1600 x 1200.
Enter the Doom 3 console pressing the Control, Alt and ` (tilde) keys simultaneously and enter the command “timedemo demo1”. That will make Doom 3 run its demo 1 and count the amount of frames per second (FPS) generated, presenting an average at the end of the demo. Write down this value and repeat this test three more times. You will see that the first value is inferior to the others and should not be used. That value is smaller because in the first round the game has to load the textures for the video card, and in the following rounds the textures are already loaded at the card.
An important detail is that the drivers for ATI graphic chips are not totally optimized for Doom 3 yet. The day we wrote this tip the latest version was Catalyst version 4.8 and, according to ATI, superior versions, when launched, will make ATI chips have better performance at Doom 3.
Another interesting detail is that Doom 3 has a restraint in the maximum amount of pictures per second it is capable of generating during the game: it only generates 60 pictures per second, even if your video card is capable of generating more than that. This limitation, however, doesn't affect the performance measurement module of this game, which may count more than 60 pictures per second without any problems.
First, update your Far Cry to the latest version available at http://www.ubi.com/US/Downloads/Info.aspx?dlId=691 (version 1.33 at this moment). Then you have to download a demo from the Internet. Several sites offer demos for the 3D performance measurement in Far Cry. We recommend the demo created by the German magazine “PC Games Hardware” (PCGH), available at http://www.3dcenter.org/downloads/farcry-pcgh-vga.php. Download this file, uncompress it and copy the file 1.tmd to the directory LevelsPier and the file checkpoint_pier_Pier_1.sav to Profiles/Player/Default/savegames. These directories are below the main directory of the game (C:Program Files/Ubisoft/Crytek/Far Cry).
Change the game shortcut (click with the right button of the mouse on it, select Properties in the menu that will be exhibited) including the parameter -devmode at the end of the command line of the game.
Configure the resolution and the image quality you want to test, restart the game and enter the console, pressing the ` (tilde) key. Enter the command “map pier”. Immediately after the map is loaded in the game, enter the console again and type demo 1, pressing the ` key to close the console window and let the demo run. The demo will be in a loop. Let it be executed 4 times, enter the console again and enter the command “stopdemo”. Leave the game. The results will be in the file 1.log in the directory LevelsPier.
This game has a very important detail in its image quality configuration. The anti-aliasing, instead of being numerically configured (1x, 2x, 4x, or 6x) is configured as low, medium, or high. The problem is that in NVIDIA chips, both medium and high mean 4x, while in ATI chips medium means 2x, and high means 6x, making the comparison between ATI and NVIDIA chips unfair. Therefore, either use antialising in low, which in both means 2x, or force a fixed antialising configuration at 4x through the driver control panel for all machines that you test.