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Old 05-06-2006, 10:37 AM   #2
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Default Ageis PhysX...The true future of PC Physics?

I am an ardent follower of PC Hardware and Software developments, To the degree that I have, in the past, been burned too many times investing in 'The Next Best Thing'...

I have followed the Ageis PhysX idea for quite some time, from when I first heard of the concept of a dedicated Physics Processing Unit (PPU) to now when the products are being marketed. I notice that a few online retailers have them on sale for 218 for the OEM 128MB version.

I have been scouring the net for any info I can get about this innovative solution to the restrictions software physics rendering places on games.

I read a pre-review of this card on AnandTech and I must admit that I am quite dissapointed by their initial findings and I'm not talking about the issues with having to re-boot the system after installation for the card to be detected by the drivers, this should be easily fixed with a driver revision. I am talking about the fact that Frame Rates DROP?!?! when the PPU is enabled on a very high spec system;

AMD Athlon 64 FX-57
AMD Opteron 144 (simulated)
ASUS NVIDIA nForce4 SLI X16 Motherboard
2GB OCZ DDR RAM
ATI Radeon X1900 XTX
ASUS PhysX PPU
Windows XP SP2
OCZ PowerStream 600W PSU

They tested the card with the CPU running full pelt and then again with it underclocked to simulate a slower CPU and the results were not at all what I was expecting.

The marketing of the Ageis PPU paints the picture that with the card installed in your machine it will free up the GPU and CPU to do the tasks they were designed for but in reality it seems that this card becomes a bottleneck, perhaps due to the fact that it is running over the PCI bus.

The in game framerates drop under all conditions of testing with the PPU enabled and after viewing the comparison videos I do not see why. Both videos (ingame footage of GRAW with and without PPU) show similar eyecandy, with the PPU version having slightly more smoke and debris, of which most dissapear as soon as they touch the ground. Not groundbreaking stuff, quite literally ;-)

I must admit to being blown away by Cell Factor and am willing to believe that performance in GRAW is due to driver issues or similar. Although I would need proof of this before even thinking about shelling out any money for this card.

From what I have seen, I honestly don't believe it's worth the 218 for the OEM version!!! And coming from me, those are not words I often utter regarding new tech ;-)
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