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  Half-Life 2, all you need to know when upgrading 
  Nov 29, 2004, 10:30am EST 

Gauging graphic cards

By: Sander Sassen

As mentioned, installing the Radeon X800 Pro on the 2.4GHz Pentium 4 didnít do much, if anything at all, simply because the processor was the limiting factor. However running the X800 Pro on the 3.2GHz Pentium 4 yields entirely different results, with close to 100 frames per second at a 1024x768 resolution in demo_001 at high quality image settings. This trend continued all the way up to 1600x1200 where performance was just enough to offer us the desired 45 frames per seconds on all demos. Switching to the Athlon 64 3000+ or the Sempron 3100+ shows identical results, with the Sempron 3100 falling slightly behind, but offering solid performance up to 1600x1200 with medium image quality settings.

So what weíre seeing here is that a Sempron 3100+ running at stock clockspeed on a nForce3-250 motherboard with 512MB of memory and an ATI Radeon X800 Pro offers well over 45 frames per second on all of our demos all the way up to a 1600x1200 resolution at medium image quality settings. Surprising? Not really, as mentioned Valve did a great job at keeping Half-Life 2 playable even on systems that do not feature the latest and the greatest.

Overall it is clear that you do not need a top-of-the-line graphics card, or system, to enjoy all that Half-Life 2 has to offer. An AMD Sempron 3100+, paired with a ATI X800 Pro videocard and a nForce3-250 motherboard offers all the performance you need to enjoy the game even at its highest resolution. Of course a 1600x1200 resolution may be a bit much for you, and you might want to settle for less, just keep in mind that you donít need to start saving for a top-of-the-line videocard, or the latest Intel or AMD processor.

If you want to gauge the performance of your own system, we encourage you to download the demos to do so. The demos we made are available here, the instructions on how to use them are included with the ZIP archive, just refer to the readme.txt. Obviously we'd like to hear from you how your system holds up, feel free to leave a comment in the forums or reply to the forum thread that belongs to this article. Good luck benchmarking and have fun playing Half-Life 2.

We'd also like to take a moment to express our gratitude for the continued support from John Beasley at Connect3D,, he made sure we have access to ATI graphic cards which ATI wasn't able to supply us with directly.

Sander Sassen.

Unfortunately, due to Valve updating Half-Life 2 through Steam, some of you may no longer be able to use these demo files on your own machines. Thereís only one way around this, by using an older backup for the game, or disabling automatic updates through Steam.

1. Introduction
2. Swapping out processors
3. Gauging graphic cards
4. Pricing information

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