With Half-Life 2 still a couple of weeks away from making its retail debut, many gamers are already enjoying one of the multiplayer components of HL2, Counter-Strike: Source. As of this article’s publication, there are already over 2,100 CS: Source servers online, with players duking it out literally 24/7.
As its name suggests, CS: Source takes the components found in the original Counter-Strike, including many of the game’s favorite maps, all the weapons and equipment, and ports it over to Valve’s Source engine, which is also used for Half-Life 2. Besides the graphics, the physics in CS: Source have been cranked up as well. Props (including the weapons of dead players) will go flying every time a frag grenade goes off, while players can be seen tossing their weapons to themselves. Valve has also updated the flashbang, which now deafens your hearing as well as blinding your vision. The overall reception to CS: Source has been very positive. If you liked the original, chances are you’ll like CS: Source, while if you didn’t care for Counter-Strike, the additions found in CS: Source probably won’t change your opinion either.
In part 1 of our 3D Performance with Counter-Strike: Source series, we evaluated the performance of the high-end cards from ATI and NVIDIA. Today we’re here to take a look at the latest mainstream offerings, ATI’s RADEON X700 XT/PRO and the NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT, and see how they compare to last year’s high-end champ, RADEON 9800 XT, as well as the RADEON 9800 PRO 128MB. With street prices for these boards hovering around $200, these cards have become popular mainstream solutions. By rounding up these five cards, we can see how the next generation of mainstream parts compare to one another, as well as popular DX9 options from the past.
Before we get started, one important point we should mention is the configuration of the RADEON X700 and GeForce 6600 boards. For this article we’re using Sapphire’s 256MB Hybrid RADEON X700 PRO, while the RADEON X700 XT and GeForce 6600 GT reference cards both feature 128MB of memory. In earlier articles from August we discovered in both the video stress test and Counter-Strike: Source beta that the larger frame buffer memory found in 256MB cards gives them a performance advantage at high resolutions with high levels of AA and/or AF turned on. We were curious to see if the 256MB of memory found in the Sapphire card allowed it to pull ahead of the theoretically faster X700 XT, even though its X700 PRO core and memory run at lower clock speeds.