The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion HDR and FSAA
Besides benchmarking the GeForce 8800 and its competitors in the high dynamic range (HDR) mode without FSAA (since the GeForce 6/7 do not support HDR with full-scene antialiasing), we also decided to see how the new architecture from Nvidia performs with FSAA and HDR enabled in Oblivion game.
With FSAA 4x and anisotropic filtering 16x activated, the GeForce 8800 GTX demonstrates exceptional performance in all resolutions, allowing gamers to enjoy both HDR and antialiasing.
In fact, in all three cases the model 8800 GTX performs inline with two Radeon X1950 XTX in CrossFire mode, which is a respectable level of performance. The single Radeon X1950 XTX does not deliver comfortable framerate in any resolution, which proves once again that the HDR + AA mode is a too hard task for single-chip previous-generation hardware.
If we take the GeForce 8800 GTX to the next level of eye candy, with FSAA 8x and AF 16x, we will witness that even such a powerful graphics accelerator cannot deliver 60fps in 1600x1200 and 1920x1200 resolutions. Nevertheless, performance in 1280x1024 is tangibly higher compared to the Radeon X1950 XTX CrossFire, not talking about the single Radeon X1950 XTX that cannot keep up with the GeForce 8800 GTX even rendering the frames with lower quality FSAA.
We do not know why, but in those resolutions speed difference between the three competing solutions is negligible, which means that there is something, perhaps, in the engine of the game itself, that limits the number of frames per second with MSAA 6x or 8x activated.
It is impressive that even with CSAA 16x in 1280x1024 resolution enabled the GeForce 8800 GTX still delivers good framerates. In higher resolutions, however, the speed is not high enough for comfort game play.
Performance of the Radeon X1950 XTX in tandem is pretty strange here: on the one hand, it is obvious that FSAA 14x is activated (due to the fact that performance in 1280x1024 is lower than that on the previous graph), but on the other hand, the speed does not decrease as resolution rises (there is a 6fps drop in 1600x1200 though, which we cannot explain).
Despite of the fact that test conditions are much harder in case of outdoor levels of Oblivion, the GeForce 8800 GTX still shows good scores in 1280x1024 and 1600x1200 resolutions and is generally ahead of competing single-chip or dual-chip Radeon X1950 XTX solutions. In fact, even in 1920x1200 the novelty can beat the rivaling X1950 XTX CrossFire while still providing more or less normal framerate.
It is interesting to note that the GeForce 8800 GTX can perform really well even with FSAA 8x and anisotropic filtering 16x activated in outdoor levels of Oblivion, a respectable achievement. The GeForce 8800 GTX, in fact, guarantees nearly 100% improvement of minimal fps when compared to the Radeon X1950 XTX!
Activation of 16x CSAA mode does not reduce performance of the GeForce 8800 GTX dramatically: framerates in 1280x1024 are still smooth and even performance in 1600x1200 should be satisfactory for non-hardcore gamers.
Such a slight drop in performance when shifting from MSAA 8x to CSAA 16x proves that the latter is a very well balanced combination of quality and processing demands.
When it comes to Super AA 14x and the Radeon X1950 XTX CrossFire, we again see no performance difference between 1280x1024 and 1920x1200 resolution as well as a slight performance drop in 1600x1200.