Quake 3 is the de facto 3D game benchmark here at Sharky Extreme, and due to its highly repeatable results, it is still one of the most popular methods of comparing different video cards. In this test suite we match up the video cards using version 1.30 and the included demo Four. Quake 3 benchmarks were run with the default High Quality options and the in-game detail levels ramped to maximum in our special MAX setting.
In our Quake 3 MAX benchmarking, there is the usual separation between the Sapphire Radeon 9800 Pro 256-MB and the standard Radeon 9800 Pro 128-MB, along with a more noticeable gap occurring down to the Radeon 9600 Pro. Quake 3 does scale quite well to additional PC horsepower, but it is an older engine that doesn't seem to make full use of the 256-MB of DDR-II.
Serious Sam: The Second Encounter is a great sequel in the popular franchise and the benchmark portion is even better than the original. This game not only puts the pressure on new 3D cards (especially at higher resolutions) but provides some excellent in-game demos in wide open spaces with tons of enemies. For our specific tests, we have benchmarked the Elephant Atrium demo to determine potential framerates, using the 32-bit mode.
It's much the same story in Serious Sam 2 32-bit testing, as the Sapphire Radeon 9800 Pro 256-MB does take the top spot in the ATI comparisons, but the actual FPS differences are nominal.
Return to Castle Wolfenstein is another Quake engine game, but with some notable differences. The basic game engine may be the same, but the graphics, gameplay and the stress it puts on a 3D card are very different. Until Doom III appears, RtCW is the next best way to determine high-end Quake engine performance. We have employed the Checkpoint MP demo for our testing, using the default High Quality settings.
The trend continues with Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and this is hardly surprising given it is a Quake-based game. As in Quake 3, the Sapphire Radeon 9800 Pro 256-MB does show slight framerate advantages, but the extra 256-MB of memory isn't being pushed by this game.