Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Age of Conan - Middle Class Performance

Welcome to my report on the Middle Class system. Obama would be proud to own this rig and play him some Age of Conan. Just don't ask for that health care plan and expect to have the system survive the OC'ing I did on this baby...

But, I digress.

This time around we are playing with the middle class system. An e8400 (OC'd to 3.2Ghz), an Nvidia GTX 260 (not OC'd), 4 gigs DDR3 1333FSB and good ole onboard sound. As we have seen about 600-700 bucks will net you this beauty.

Well, lets not wait around any longer, and lets get to the numbers shall we? First we always start with that lovely scene. You know the one. The one that makes you cry as you watch all of your frame quality be cut in more than half...

1360x76 All effects on - 20FPS

Interesting. Now, just a little commentary on this real quick. First off, I have been impressed with Nvidia's drivers as so many optimizations exists in their control panel, that we are not quite sure if this scene is actually being fully rendered. I mean, so much culling of back scene polygons are taking place. As well, we can note a "washed" out effect to these images compared to the ATI. When it comes to IQ, ATI definitely wins. But, Nvidia allows full 16x AA over this scene with not too much slow down. For the cost of this card, it is hard not to like those numbers.

1920x1080 All on - 18.1FPS

Not too much loss there. But still, noting how washed out some of the screens look. This seems odd. I tried adjusting gamma and contrast, colorization...but not with too much luck.
Also of note (which does not show up in the screenshots) is a strange "sparkle" to textures the further out they are. Like I stated earlier, looking like missing polygons being rendered...weird.

How about the Optimized settings? These are noted in my previous ATI 5870 article. We pull back on view, and remove grass, etc.

1920x1080 Optimized - 26FPS

Impressed that the GTX 260 can handle this spot and at such a high framerate. Depending on the card, some feature causes each card to bog a bit (water? snow? lighting?). As you will see in this comparison section.


1360 Nvidia - 34.5FPS

1360 ATI - 58.4FPS (23 frame increase)

1360 Nvidia - 36.5FPS

1360 ATI - 58.5FPS (over 21 FPS increase)

1360 Nvidia - 128.8FPS

1360 ATI - 217.3FPS (over 88 FPS INCREASE)

Something to keep in mind. Drivers for ATI are still beta and not optimized quite yet. I am also running 8x Supersample (16x regular on Nvidia), and this can give a hit in performance in some zones as well. But, there is no doubt that the Nvidia does quite well for it's price...but at a cost of visual quality and some performance quirks

At one point while in Atzels Zone, my frames dipped to about 18, and started to stutter, yet the ATI kept rolling at over 50+ FPS. I actually had to shut down the game and restart after this stutter incident, yet Atzels never seemed to recover in this one section (near the Fortress for those who know the zone).
This was an unexplained quirk to me, and I could not recover for the life of me.

So, it is hard to say what you should do. Save money or hold the cash. If you are on a limited budget, you may wish to go this route. Another option may be to get the computer equipment from the previous kit with the new Intel i5 series, and then get the GTX 260 to tide you over until prices come down on the ATI.
Another option is to start watching prices on the ATI 4890 which is not too much slower than the 5870 and get a good boost here. Prices should start to drop thanks to the 5870. (I will post some benchmarks for that card in this system at a later date).

Thats it for the Middle Class. Next up will be the lower class money saver for those on a "I have to eat ramen noodles to survive" budget.



Jayedub said...

I've been pretty happy with the performance of my 260 card. But I never noticed the washed out look before, not sure what would cause that.

Tempest of News said...

It is AMAZING the difference in image quality between the two.
Especially the close up of the robe in the last shots.
Of course since the ATI introduced the new Supersample, that could be the huge difference there.
But, the driver optimizations for the 260 really make some big differences in performance and allows it to shine for pennies on the dollar compared to the 5870.
Cost conscious players should go to the 260 or the 4890 for now...