DOOM 3 high-end graphics comparo

Performance and image quality examined

DOOM 3 HAS ARRIVED, and it's already turning the PC hardware world on its ear. Suddenly, after years where the capabilities of the latest graphics cards far outstripped the demands of current games, that $299 card you bought six months ago may be begging for mercy. DOOM 3 looks stunning, but it's not a cheap date. Yes, DOOM 3 scales down fairly well in order to run on slower hardware, but it loses some of its visual impact in the process—and let's be frank: that's not what we really want. We want to find the right hardware for the job, the graphics card that can pump out the eye candy at an acceptable rate, no matter how sweet it gets.

To that end, we have rounded up a healthy contingent of the latest high-end graphics cards for a shootout in DOOM 3—cards that are relatively recent and available for about $299 and up. The list includes no less than four flavors of GeForce 6800, a bevy of Radeons, and even a GeForce FX. We've tested them all in both the single-player game and in deathmatch to see how they handle the game of the moment. And we've tested both performance and image quality exclusively with DOOM 3's "High Quality" graphics settings, the best logical choice for gamers with decent graphics hardware.

So this is a serious comparison of DOOM 3 performance. Even our test system means business—an Athlon 64 3800+ with a gig of dual-channel DDR400 memory running at uber-tight timings.

Will NVIDIA's prowess in OpenGL games translate into across-the-board dominance in DOOM 3, or will ATI's new Catalyst 4.9 beta drivers propel the Radeon X800 back into contention? What is the best high-end graphics card value for DOOM 3? Read on to find out.

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