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Benchmarking Your GPU with F.E.A.R.

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the putting-the-hurt-on-your-machine dept.

Graphics 37

ThinSkin writes "Monolith's new shooter F.E.A.R. is all fun and games, but it can also be used as a benchmark to test your GPU's performance. ExtremeTech's Jason Cross goes into detail on benchmarking your GPU with this graphically-intensive game. In addition, the article also tests the performance of high- and mid-range cards from ATI and Nvidia to see which scores top marks." It's a tough game; I had to buy a new rig.

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mid range system (4, Interesting)

rwven (663186) | more than 8 years ago | (#14000118)

I found that if you have a midrange system you can turn everything to max, but keep volumetric lighting and all shadows turned off and the framerate stays pretty constant no matter what other settings are enabled or at what quality. The only thing i saw other than that, that hit my performance significantly was enabling full quality textures because i don't currently have enough ram ("only" a gig) to keep all the textures in. The HD swapped a TON with textures all the way up.

Re:mid range system (2)

quest(answer)ion (894426) | more than 8 years ago | (#14000269)

...define mid-range system. i've got a p4 2.6, 1gb pc3200, and a radeon 9600se. does that cut it for the kind of down tweaking you're talking about?

Re:mid range system (1)

wickedj (652189) | more than 8 years ago | (#14000632)

Hmmm... your system is similar to mine.

P4 2.6Ghz w/ HT
1 GB RAM pc3200
Radeon 9800 Pro 128MB

I have to run F.E.A.R. at 640x480 with most of the settings on minimum. Even then I get really low frame rates. I have to make sure I turn off as many processes as possible too. I thought I was running a decent system but I'm feeling that upgrade itch pretty bad right now. I've been researching Nvidia SLI solutions at the moment. Apparently, the F.E.A.R. developers had SLI in mind and it should autodetect it and optimize the settings for it. I figure what I may do is buy a really nice SLI card and then when it's feeling it's age again, drop in another card (which should be cheaper by then) to boost speed. *Sigh* the price of PC gaming sure is high, but what can I say, I'm addicted.

Re:mid range system (1)

mink (266117) | more than 8 years ago | (#14001109)

Here is my system followed by my F.E.A.R. settings:

Shuttle an35-N-400 (not a dual channel board).
Athlon XP 2000.
Radeon 9800 Pro 256MB.
1GB Patriot 400 MHZ DDR ram (2 DIMM @ 512MB each).
Fear installed on raid 0 stripe on Highpoint PCI card.
OS drive and DVD drive each on their own IDE channel from the chip set.
on-board sound.

I was able to run F.E.A.R (with no slowdown in large open areas) at 1024x768 medium graphics settings and 4x AA 2x ansitropic filtering.
Shadows were set to minimum, I usually turn them off but in F.E.A.R. they are of actual use.

One thing I see happening is F.E.A.R. will push your GPU to it's breaking point. My stock ATI fan was starting to get dirty and lose RPM. F.E.A.R. (out of all other recent games) was getting red dots in textures, support says that's GPU/memory overheating.

I went out and bought a Zalman copper cooler with memory heat sinks and the problem seems to be fixed.

Re:mid range system (1)

Prophet of Nixon (842081) | more than 8 years ago | (#14001261)

Hmmm, I have the same video card, slower RAM, and a 2.4 Ghz northwood (no HT), and I can run FEAR at 800x600 with most effects on, but not the highest texture settings. It keeps a consistently playable >30 framerate, and I've got some background processes too (mainly IIS and MSDE). Now that is only on the demo; I wasn't amused enough to go buy it (though that laser that chars people down to skeletons was fairly entertaining, and I liked the design of that heavy soldier halfway through).

Re:mid range system (1)

quest(answer)ion (894426) | more than 8 years ago | (#14003017)

i know my generic 9600 isn't going to cut it, and SLI isn't really an option on my board, so i've been looking for a good 8x AGP card that won't kill my wallet. would a 6600 or 6600gt be worth the cash, or should i just wait until i've got the money to put together a half-decent SLI system?

Re:mid range system (1)

Bobsledboy (836872) | more than 8 years ago | (#14005545)

A 6800GT is well worth the money if you haven't got the cash to blow on a 7800GTX.

Re:mid range system (1)

couch_potato (623264) | more than 8 years ago | (#14006076)

Hold out for the 6800GS. It will be in stores soon, and it performs about as well as the 6800GT, and it'll be cheaper, to boot.

Re:mid range system (1)

Bobsledboy (836872) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007979)

I forgot about the GS, do what the parent says.

Re:mid range system (1)

Worminater (600129) | more than 8 years ago | (#14011211)

GS is actually slower then the gt; and also pci-e mainly. Just look for the best deal you can find on a 6800gt or x800xt pe

Re:mid range system (1)

rwven (663186) | more than 8 years ago | (#14000664)

Laptop: AMD 64 3700+, 1gb ram, 100gb HD, 100mb ATI Radeon X600. it stays pretty solid just under 30fps...which is still playable. peaks at about 45 or so, dips into low 20's for instances every once in a while... I found that by upping everything from medium to high and keeping textures at medium, keeping shadows off and keeping volumetric lighting off, the framerate only dropped about .5 fps. To be clear, i had shadows and volumetric lighting off ALL the time, not just when i cranked up the settings.

Re:mid range system (1)

Prophet of Nixon (842081) | more than 8 years ago | (#14001284)

From your experience with a mobile X600, do you think a Turion notebook with an X700 would be worth getting? I've been seriously tempted by the new MSI MS-1029, but I don't know how well that card would run.

Re:mid range system (1)

rwven (663186) | more than 8 years ago | (#14001907)

The card runs just fine. I wouldn't get anything slower than an X700 though. I would have paid a little more for that if i had the chance to do it all over again.

Re:mid range system (1)

rwven (663186) | more than 8 years ago | (#14000709)

er, sorry, 128 MB ATI Radeon X600.... duh.

This is nice (0, Redundant)

Now.Imperfect (917684) | more than 8 years ago | (#14000302)

I've been looking for a new video card and I'm glad to see this sort of thing. Right now i have a Radeon 9250 and I can play with most graphics settings on minimum-medium...

ARRG (2, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14000362)

There was a time when a game/program required an excessive amount of computing power that was a BAD thing.

I don't look at a game that requires 350W of computing to run as a "good thing". Sorry, I just don't. Any VB.NET hacker can make an inefficient bloaty game. It takes real talen to do the same with minimal requirements.

If this "F.E.A.R." game really requires a $500 graphic card to play then they can keep it. It's just a game, you'll play it and be bored within a week. Meanwhile you're still out the $500 and your computer is taking "yet more power" to run.

These peeps really ought to develop games for things like a gameboy or PSP first. Then they'd get an idea of what "optimization" means.


Get over it. (4, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14000604)

With your type of thinking we would still be playing pong just in multiple colors. There is nothing excessive about the game requirements what is excessive is the whiners about how other people spend their time and money.

There are always those who will try to guilt-trip anyone for whatever reason. Most always it boils down to money. Like people who harp about how much gasoline costs, to hummers, to millionaires buying rides to the ISS.

Enjoyment and relaxation come in many forms and how people spend THEIR money is of no real concern to me as long as it does not endanger me in the process.

Computer games are advancing the state of entertainment, attempting to bring realism to the screen. Doing so does require oodles of computer power and we have that luxury these days. People looking at the future would never imagine the power we dedicate to games but looking back 10 years the picture changes.

The amount of power expended by high end PCs is nothing to cry about. In fact it trivializes many other real wastes of power and money.

Re:Get over it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14001251)

and just what is wrong with black-and-white pong?

Re:Get over it. (2, Interesting)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14001314)

Here's a tip for ya, the more you optimize the more you can bring out of the platform.

You can make *even better* games by optimizing your resources. Sure you could double the texture resolution [4x the ram] but that only "improves" the game so far. Then you are left over with no memory for say, good AI or physics or whatever.

Having 1600x1200 with 8xAA and 16xAF is not the be-all of gaming. It isn't "advanced" either. Look at SIGGRAPH if you're into "state of the art".

"people like me" are why you have things like the Gameboy to begin with in the first place. [well not literally though, but figuratively]. And judging by sales I'd say people seem to like the Gameboy. It doesn't have 256MB of ram or a 3Ghz processor yet it still was able to captivate the gamers. Of course back then the CONTENT was more important than the cover. And if you think the waste of power is trivial ... you're way off in space.

On my desk is a PPC 405 that takes about 80mW of juice to run at 384Mhz [the entire kit with 512M of flash, 64M of SDRAM, an FPGA runs off USB power]. It has the same computing power of roughly a pentium pro core [but with a higher clock rate] while taking vastly less power to run.

That's what we call "an improvement". Even the PPC 440 [which has as the documentation says two ALU pipes] only takes 710mW to run at 667Mhz. The VIA C3 at a similar clock rate is actually slower [in terms of MIPS] and takes 10 times the power. Don't even get me into the AMD and Intel camps.

Would this get you 1600x1200 @ 300fps? no. Not even close. Would it be fast enough to replace your 50W desktop processor? yes.

If you think "it must take a lot of power to be good and that's all there is about that" you're sadly mistaken.

Further look at things like the PS2. It doesn't even have a graphics processor like a typical PC. It's just a cell processor design. The entire kit runs off 70W of power. You can't even run a P4 processor on 70W!!!

But doesn't sound like a lot?

How many PCs and laptops are out there? say 100 million? Say the average CPU [over the entire set] takes 60W to run. Replace that with a 700mW PPC 440 and save 59.3W of juice PER BOX. multiply that by 100 million.

Where does it come from? Magic pixie fairies?

Let's talk about cost. The PPC 440 using IBMs 90um process is 6mm^2. The P4 is roughly 100mm^2. That means in volume the PPC is several ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE cheaper to produce. Want a laptop? Drop 200 dollars off the price. Oh wait, now your battery doesn't need to be as big [as a side bonus you don't need a cpu fan]. Drop another $50 off the price.

I guess you're one of those "coal is endless and I like burning money" types. I'm sorry to burst your bubble kid but if you look to nvidia or ATI as the "advancement of computing graphics technology" you're sadly mistaken. Either they realize they can't keep burning power or another startup will eat them up by providing more efficient cores.


Re:Get over it. (1)

Prophet of Nixon (842081) | more than 8 years ago | (#14001419)

Ah, but he has a plan... when coal runs out he can burn his money to heat his home!

Re:Get over it. (1)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 8 years ago | (#14008594)

So, where do I get a PPC440 board/box that is at least as cheap as an AMD equivalent, with TV-output and firewire?

I'm not being flippant, I'm just completely unfamiliar with the embedded PPC stuff, so I'm not sure what's available, what it costs, or where I can get it in single unit quantities. If I can get ahold of something like that for less than the cost of a Mac Mini, it'll be my media center PC/home intranet server in a heartbeat. I'm looking for something with enough oomph to play SD video froma hard drive, and low enough power consumption that I can leave it on 24/7, so I never need to sit through a boot process in order to watch a TV show.

Most of the software I'd be looking to run on it is open-source, so while I've mainly been looking for x86 systems, I really would be fine running on any architecture supported by Linux or a BSD. :)

Re:Get over it. (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14008934)

Best place to get a PPC would be in an embedded device ... unfotunately not a lot of people [re: any] make desktop computers based on the PPC.

It's one of those chicken an egg problems. It would likely cost a good $100,000 or so [if you paid yourself nothing] to develop a desktop kit based on the PPC on your own. Who has that money? And since the mass public are so blinded by mindless advertisement they're not seeking alternatives.

"will this PC run my win3.1 programs?" etc...

I got my PPC from [] but it's not a desktop. It's just a USB powered device you can ssh into. I use it to test and benchmark my crypto libraries [which are getting faster by the day :-)].

I think this sort of thing would just need a petition of sorts. E.g. get a good thousands or so people to petition IBM to design a desktop mobo with a PPC 440 in it.

I'd say reasonable specs would be

- 667 Mhz PPC 440
- 256MB of ram [if at all possible make it use DIMM or SODIMM DDR memory]
- PCI bus with a couple slots
- onboard IDE [ATA133], Ethernet [10/100], Sound [AC'97 compliant], VGA [SiS?], PS/2 and USB 2.0 ports
- mini-atx form factor

I'd suspect such a motherboard would competently sell for around $200 USD. Add a $50 case, $80 HD, $30 DVD/CDRW and you have a desktop box for $360. It'd be dead silent [except for the HD], really small and take little power.

Make it Linux compatible and voila.


Re:Get over it. (1)

Tezprice (875643) | more than 8 years ago | (#14010299)

You mean I can save money on my electricty bill AND my hardware bill by just buying an incredibly out dated machine???

Do you cook your food on an open fire in your garden by any chance?

If you think "it must take a lot of power to be good and that's all there is about that" you're sadly mistaken. Further look at things like the PS2. It doesn't even have a graphics processor like a typical PC. It's just a cell processor design. The entire kit runs off 70W of power. You can't even run a P4 processor on 70W!!!

Welcome to 2005, PS2 graphics arnt really cutting edge anymore, infact they never were. It also doesnt have any moving parts other than a small fan, whereas PC's generally have 3+ (Hell, mines got 6) and a couple of harddrives. I'm sure the next generation of consoles will take up a fair amount of juice.

I'm sorry if i'm being an asshole and missing the point, but if you want to save even more electricity, get a SNES.

Re:Get over it. (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14011736)

You mean I can save money on my electricty bill AND my hardware bill by just buying an incredibly out dated machine???

How is it progress to spend more energy then you have to, to accomplish a goal?

I mean, what next? Are 3mpg cars better for commuting than 40mpg cars? [assuming relatively equal levels of safety].

You seem to think everyone plays games, does software builds and transcodes movies. Would you be surprised to learn that most desktops are being used for data entry? Email, web development, word processing, marketting, etc. Fuck, even some software development [e.g. when you're code works against hardware not inside your box] doesn't even need a lot of power.

So what you should say is

"What? I've been mislead into thinking I need a power-sucking processor to type text?"

You're just buying into the hype and hysteria of "phong-shaded goodyness" that is todays gpu market. If you think PS2 capability to display graphics takes away from the ability for a game to be fun ... you live a sad life. You'll ALWAYS be disappointed. Though I don't even look at it as a negative. PS2 graphics are realistic enough for me to get into the game. It's the gameplay that makes me enjoy the actual game.

And for the record, PPC 440 processors are newer than you think. [so are some of the cool ARM processors out there].

You think because something takes less power [re: gas] it's inferior. That's because you're an idiot and you don't know what you are talking about.

I'm sitting here at a 400Mhz P4 processor typing this text. what does that tell you? [I'm running gaim, xmms playing an mp3 and Gnome at the same time]. My 3200Mhz P4 actually spends most of it's time [I use the computer about 8 hours a day] at less than a Ghz. Even when I'm busy debugging something or coding it ramps up to build and down again to idle after.

If I can type this message in slashdot [well in firefox] and play an mp3 at the same time and my cpu is running AS SLOW AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE [and it's a P4 which isn't exactly an efficient core] do you really think you need faster processors?

For that matter, even with the P4 at 400Mhz the PPC 440 running at 667Mhz would take less power and still have more MIPS to deliver.



I am playing it with a GeForce3!!!!!! (1)

alexandreracine (859693) | more than 8 years ago | (#14002264)

...and it is only then that you can see that the story is not that strong. :)

The game itself is not too bad, but this is a one time play, after that, uninstall and install another one.

Re:ARRG (1)

Ford Prefect (8777) | more than 8 years ago | (#14006320)

If this "F.E.A.R." game really requires a $500 graphic card to play then they can keep it. It's just a game, you'll play it and be bored within a week. Meanwhile you're still out the $500 and your computer is taking "yet more power" to run.

I've only played the demo for F.E.A.R., but I was singularly under-impressed by the graphics - or rather, the design and artwork. Yes, it had fully dynamic shadows (but no radiosity), all sorts of refractive shaders and gloss-mapped, normal-mapped and parallax-mapped everything, but it didn't seem to do anything with that capability, beyond some hopelessly generic, cramped warehouses and pipe-filled rooms.

Turning the graphical settings up to maximum was a bit of an eye-opener on my not-cutting-edge GeForce 6600. I ended up with incredibly simple, blocky corridors making the game run at around 15fps, presumably because of the computationally expensive shadows and (naff-looking) shaders on the walls - despite all that, it wasn't exactly aesthetically pleasing.

When Half-Life 2's engine can do something like this [] on my PC with a decent resolution and 4X anti-aliasing at around 30-40fps, when F.E.A.R. might manage this [] at around 15fps, I do wonder if games engines are heading in the wrong direction. It's not so much 'optimisation' as 'making the best use of what's available'...

it really is a box eating game (1)

linuxkrn (635044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14000396)

I have a P4 Dual Core 3GHz, 2GB Ram, and PCI-E BFG 7800 GT OC. Video is one step below the best (7800 GTX) and rest is really not that bad. But I can't get more then 1600x1200. I tried to run my 24" LCD on 1920x1200 and it just wasn't playable. Whereas Counter Strike Source gets 84 FPS with max details, 4x FFSA, and running 1920x1200. Guess the next step is to go 7800 SLI. :-/ (OUCH!)

Re:it really is a box eating game (2, Insightful)

wickedj (652189) | more than 8 years ago | (#14000691)

If you've already spent that much on a system, going SLI isn't going to kill you too much. It's just another $300-$400 card. Now if you don't have a compatible motherboard and power supply, that might ramp up another $250-$350. Either way, you KNOW you wanna do it. You can't resist. Alma awaits.


xgamer04 (248962) | more than 8 years ago | (#14001066)

Dude, Zonk, if some guy from a website writes in with a blurb from their latest article, the least you could do is put " [linky]Someguy from[/linky] writes 'blurb' " in the writeup.

In Soviet Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14001259)

In Soviet Russia video games F.E.A.R. YOU!

yes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14001878)

but is there anyway to benchmark how long your underwear will last while playing this game?

Very GPU dependent game (2, Informative)

Lord Crc (151920) | more than 8 years ago | (#14001981)

Just for kicks, I tried overclocking my rather plain 6800GT card. I saw an almost direct linear relationship between % overclocked and % increase in framerate in F.E.A.R.

At most I managed to push it from 350 to 410Mhz (no special cooler), which is a 17% increase. The average framerate went from 41 to 48, which is a 17% increase...

Re:Very GPU dependent game (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 8 years ago | (#14004232)

Though they are probaly close it is more likely a situation where the GPU gains slightly more than a linear increase.

Some of the GPU is wasted on Overhead, whether it's the GUI or some underlying operations.

The in-game 'benchmark' is misleading (3, Interesting)

Might E. Mouse (907610) | more than 8 years ago | (#14002154)

The in-game 'benchmark' is misleading - it's just a fly-by, with no A.I. load on your CPU at all. Given how much amazing A.I. there is in F.E.A.R, the numbers you get from the in-game fly-by are not at all representative of real gameplay performance. In fact, they are artificially inflated. If you want to see the difference between non-playable fly-by runs and *real* human gameplay experience, I suggest you read bit-tech's review of F.E.A.R. [] They proved this benchmark was bollocks three weeks ago, so used FRAPS to measure someone physically playing the game. The results are way different. Unfortunately, the Anandtech benchmark review failed to spot this, so those figures are all wrong too

Re:The in-game 'benchmark' is misleading (1)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 8 years ago | (#14011241)

Well, they're saying it's a good GPU benchmark. The face that it doesn't load your CPU during the fly-by is a great thing for those that want to isolate their pure video performance as opposed to game performance. I do agree that they should state that the fly-by has almost no reflection of in-game performance when AI or physics come into play.

how to increase your FPS for free (ati) (3, Interesting)

row1 (930208) | more than 8 years ago | (#14004954)

If you have an ati card (R4XX models) you can get a performance boots by renaming FEAR.exe to anything.exe.
Running fear 1.02 on an msi x800 xl
first i ran with FEAR.exe:
1st run (fps):
* min 25
* avg 46
* max 93
* 0% below 25
* 44% between 25 and 40
* 56% above 40
2nd run (fps):
* min 26
* avg 46
* max 91
* 0% below 25
* 43% between 25 and 40
* 57% above 40
then i quit and ran anything.exe
1st run (fps):
* min 22
* avg 42
* max 103
* 1% below 25
* 44% between 25 and 40
* 55% above 40
2st run (fps):
* min 21
* avg 42
* max 111
* 3% below 25
* 37% between 25 and 40
* 60% above 40
not believing it i reverted back to fear.exe and it went back to the first lot of results.
I dont know whats going on, but the max framerate jumped up by 20 fps as well as the percent above 40fps. The min and avg values went down a little.

In other news... (2, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 8 years ago | (#14005284)

... researchers have discovered that "Half-Life 2: Lost Coast" can be used to benchmark computer hardware. In fact, they also discovered that the original "Half-Life 2", as well as "Doom 3", "Farcry", and "Billy Bob's New Shooter" can all be used as benchmarks, because, incredibly, they all use the GPU, for something, sometimes.

Nothing to see here, PLEASE, IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, JUST move along.
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