X2 - The Threat GPU Showdown

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Gaming on 2 May 2006. Page 1 of 4. Add A Comment

Announced last week by Linux Game Publishing was word that Egosoft's X2 The Threat had finally went gold with its Linux port. While the retail title will not be made available until some time around May 19 of this year, Linux Game Publishing has released a demo of this X2 The Threat title. For many, this will be the first time seeing this game in action under Linux, while LGP's Beta testing community has had in their hands the various Beta releases since the very end of last year. The closed testing community had encountered nine Beta releases before it finally went gold. A majority of these releases were significant that ranged from addressing ALSA/OSS problems to the entire ATI support breaking. In the end, however, from our experience testing the game it had turned into an enjoyable experience with minimal problems. For those unfamiliar with Egosoft's X2 The Threat, its fundamentals include trading, fighting, building, and thinking. All of this gaming takes place within space. Egosoft is already out with X3: Reunion for Microsoft Windows users. Today at Phoronix, we are performing a GPU showdown with a handful of popular graphics cards to see what reigns supreme as well as looking at what will be required to appropriately run the game with Linux.

Linux Game Publishing's minimum system requirements when it comes to the hardware is a 1.2GHz CPU, 256MB of RAM, 1.4GB disc space, 1x DVD-ROM, OSS or ALSA sound-card, and a hardware accelerated 3D graphics card with 64MB of video memory. Back on December 31, 2005, Michael Simms (the CEO of Linux Game Publishing) had announced on the X2 Beta list a few notes regarding recommended graphics cards and system specifications. For running X2 The Threat with bump-maps and shadows off, and running no more than 800 x 600, a GeForce 4 64MB solution with 512MB of memory and 1.00GHz processor should be suitable. If running without shadows, but using bump-maps and running no more than 1024 x 768, a GeForce FX 5900 128MB is recommended. Next, for running with some stuttering shadows, bump-maps, and 1024x 768, a GeForce 6600 256MB is needed with at least 1GB of system memory and 1.5GHz processor. Finally, any GeForce 6800 or later with 1GB of RAM and a 1.5GHz processor should be able to handle X2 The Threat in any environment. Michael Simms at the time was not aware of what would be needed on the ATI side of things; however, Phoronix had reported various results at that time. For our GPU showdown today, we used a handful of ATI Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce products. The NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT 128MB, 6800GT 256MB, and 7800GTX 256MB were used while on the ATI Radeon side of things was the X800XL 256MB, X1300PRO 256MB, and X1800XL 256MB. All of the graphics cards used were PCI Express x16 based and representative of various green and red solutions from relatively mainstream cards to high-end solutions. Below is the system configuration used for the duration of X2 The Threat tests.

Hardware Components
Processor: Intel Pentium D 820 @ 3.22GHz
Motherboard: Abit AW8 (i955X + ICH7R)
Memory: 2 x 512MB Corsair XMS2-5400UL
Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT 128MB
NVIDIA GeForce 6800GT 256MB
NVIDIA GeForce 7800GTX 256MB
ATI Radeon X800XL 256MB
ATI Radeon X1300PRO 256MB
ATI Radeon X1800XL 256MB
Hard Drives: Seagate 160GB SATA2 7200.9
Optical Drives: Lite-On 16x DVD-ROM
Power Supply: Sytrin Nextherm PSU460 460W
Software Components
Operating System: Fedora Core 5
Linux Kernel: 2.6.16-1.2096_FC5 SMP (x86_64)
GCC - GNU Compiler: 4.1.0
Graphics Driver: NVIDIA 1.0-8756
ATI fglrx v8.24.8
X.Org: 7.0.0

For testing, we used the Beta 9 candidate, as the complete retail game will not be available until later this month. The X2 The Threat demo (which was made available last week) unfortunately does not support the benchmarking mode. The X2 The Threat Beta 9 was the last Beta candidate and is roughly what had gone gold. When running X2 The Threat, an option is available from the main window to run the game as a benchmark, and all of the visual settings can be adjusted from that area. After running the benchmark, the average FPS from all of the scenes is outputted to the terminal and a complete log is available at ~/.lpg/x2/xperf.txt. This log independently displays the average FPS from all 24 scenes. Our benchmarks for this article were executed at various visual settings from within the X2 The Threat interface; the actual specifications are noted with the results. Without further ado, on the following pages are our results.

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