The X2 - The Threat Demo is another high-end 3D benchmark that takes the form of a rolling demo. It may be technically DirectX 8 in design, but its high-end 3D support and features make this a serious test for current 3D games, and not far removed from our DirectX 9 benchmarking. Once started, the X2 demo displays various game scenes, and incorporates the space-sim aspects of the game into a test run that can really separate the high-end cards from the pack.
The ASUS AX800 XT and GeForce 6800 Ultra are again battling it out for top spot, but in the case of the X2 Demo, this time it's the ATI card coming out ahead. The lead is certainly not significant, and it is interesting to note how much closer the last-generation cards like the Radeon 9800XT and GeForce FX 5950 Ultra are, especially at 1280x1024. As the resolution is increased, the top-end cards do seem to increase their lead, which will make the anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering testing more interesting.
As anticipated, the two top-ranked contenders do stake out a nice lead, with both the ASUS AX800 XT and GeForce 6800 Ultra taking it to the competition. The AX800 XT is still the top dog of the high-end crowd, and at 1600x1200, almost doubles the framerate of the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra and Radeon 9800 XT.
The Comanche 4 benchmark from Novalogic gives us an opportunity to use an actual flight sim for 3D video testing. This is a different game engine that we've ever used before, so don't be put off by the relatively low framerates. Just like the high fps of Quake 3, a card's relative position is the most important factor. These tests were run in 32-bit mode, with sound disabled.
As usual, the basic Comanche 4 benchmark scores are packed together, with virtually no advantage for any of the high-end cards. The GeForce 6800-based video cards do hold a slight lead, but even the Radeon 9800XT keeps pace pretty well. We know that Comanche 4 is CPU-limited to some degree, and that the higher AA/AF detail settings will show us a clearer picture.
The 4X AA and 8X AF settings do allow for a more comprehensive performance graph, and we finally get real separation between the various models. The ASUS AX800 XT and GeForce 6800 Ultra trade back and forth, with each card winning at one resolution. Otherwise, the power of the video cards does come to the fore, especially when compared to the Radeon 9800XT and GeForce FX 5950 Ultra.