In looking over both NVIDIAâ€™s older 8800 GTX video card and the newer 8800 GTS 512MB we see that there was no improvement in the in-game settings in DX9 mode versus DX10. Although playing in DX9 does provide an increased average framerate it is unperceivable in real gameplay. From all of our gameplay testing in DX9 and DX10 our conclusion is that with an NVIDIA GPU based video card there is no reason not to play in DX10. DX9 does not improve framerates enough to allow you to set higher in-game settings or make the game have a better feel. DX10 also has the advantage of reduced system memory usage, which could be more important on machines with lower amounts of physical RAM.
AMDâ€™s DX10 GPUs on the other hand are a completely different story. With the cards used we experienced higher framerates in DX9 that allowed us to play the game with better in-game quality settings. The framerate difference was great enough between DX9 and DX10 that with the single Radeon HD 3870, DX9 saved us from â€œLowâ€ quality settings. And to put it simply, â€œLowâ€ settings in Crysis pretty much suck.
DX9 vs. DX10 Image Quality
We did find IQ differences, but they were ever so slight. We discovered that running Crysis in DX10 provides better HDR contrast than in DX9. There seemed to be a better overall tone of light and dark colors when we compared still screen shot images. When playing the game it was near impossible to tell the difference between DX9 and DX10, and we even knew the exact nuances we were trying to realize. Taking the â€œPepsi Challengeâ€ in Crysis comparing IQ between DX9 and DX10 would likely end in a draw. Only upon very close examination of screenshots could we truly identify the differences.
So where are the pretty DX10 Crysis graphics promised? They can be found in the â€œVery Highâ€ settings, but unfortunately those settings are not playable with todayâ€™s highest-end GPUs! When running DX10 Crysis you have the in-game settings of â€œVery Highâ€ that are available where these uber-settings are not available in DX9. Even with the most expensive $1200 Quad-SLI configuration we still werenâ€™t able to scale Crysis to its highest DX10 settings and have an acceptable gameplay experience.
The Bottom Line
NVIDIA GPU based video cards have no real-world gameplay differences between DX9 and DX10, so there is no reason not to run in DX10. AMD ATI GPU based video cards do suffer a performance penalty for using DX10. If you are running an NVIDA GPU based video card, continue to run in DX10, but if you are running an AMD ATI GPU based video card you might want to consider running in DX9 for the best Crysis experience.
We feel that HardOCP should not let AMDâ€™s poor DX10 performance retard our testing. DX10 is the future whether we like it or not, and we want to encourage game developers to continue to push the envelope and provide a good gaming experience. We also want to encourage NVIDIA and AMD to continue to develop and mature their DX10 drivers in both single and multi-GPU configurations for games.
Kyleâ€™s Notes: The GPU companies have been evangelizing the â€œhuge benefitsâ€ of DX10 graphics to us here at HardOCP literally for years now. The quote below is ours from mid-2006.
The DirectX 10 API is a move in the right direction when it comes to gaming. It looks as though it is easily going to allow future GPUs from ATI and NVIDIA to shine in the gaming arena. Given ATIâ€™s and NVIDIAâ€™s quick advancements in GPUs as of late, we think that the DirectX 10 gaming era will truly be one that reaches the next level as it is shaping up to be exactly what the game content developers have been wanting for years now. And when the game content developers are happy, that means us gamers are happy.