Company of Heroes Goes DirectX 10

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Benchmarking DirectX10 – Company of Heroes v1.70

Last month we showed DirectX 10 performance on Call of Juarez and Lost Planet: Extreme Condition and showed that NVIDIA was leading ATI when it came to DirectX10 performance. This past week THQ Inc. released a patch adding Microsoft DirectX 10 support to PC game title Company of Heroes. This makes Company of Heroes is the first commercially available DirectX 10 Windows PC game and we have been busy benchmarking it over the last couple days to bring you some performance numbers on the latest and greatest DX10 video cards from both ATI and NVIDIA.

The Company of Heroes v1.7 patch adds DirectX 10 features to the original game. In the patch release notes it mentions the following for DX10 features.

  • Edges of particles are softened where intersecting 3D objects.
  • Thousands of additional ‘litter’ objects in the world.
  • Improved user control over anti aliasing settings.
  • Alpha to coverage anti aliasing to improve quality of alpha test objects such as shrubs.
  • Lighting quality has improved by moving all calculations per pixel.
  • More precise point light calculations.
  • Point lights can now cast shadows.
  • 3D short grass on the terrain.
  • Vertical refresh synchronization is enabled by default to improve visual quality
  • Hardware PCF for improved shadow quality.
Company of Heroes

With the game running in DirectX 9 we can see the map detail in the above image. DirectX 9 first brought support for instancing - the ability to draw the same object multiple times using a single command.

Company of Heroes

DirectX 10 instancing has improved flexibility, allowing for instanced objects to use different textures and shaders. Even in ordinary scenes like this one, many more objects can be drawn with little CPU overhead. This is just one example of how DirectX 10 will visually look different. Let’s get to the testing to see how these video cards do with the new DirectX 10 patch.

Over the past 24 hours both AMD/ATI and NVIDIA have issued statements on the patch and to be fair to our community these comments will be passed along to our readers. 

AMD’s Comments on Company of Heroes:

AMD wanted you to be aware of a few notes regarding Company of Heroes and ATI cards using the new 1.7 patch that was just released to the public.

vsync – When running benchmarks you should always turn off vsync because you limit the frame rate to the monitor’s refresh rate. However, with Company of Heroes, this also affects lower frame rates which are critical to benchmarking. Please ensure you have disabled v-sync on testing!

Antialiasing Settings – Nvidia has a special type of antialiasing on the G80 called Coverage Sampled AA or CSAA. This allows them to use fewer color samples than standard MSAA, and run faster at the cost of some quality. On Nvidia hardware, Company of Heroes allows you to select the type of AA the game uses. We suggest running the benchmark with the 8Q setting, not the 8x CSAA setting because the 8Q setting is equivalent to ATI’s 8x MSAA in terms of quality.

Please be sure to pull down the latest Catalyst driver (Catalyst 7.5) from our website.

NVIDIA’s Comments on Company of Heroes:

At last, it’s here–the first game with DirectX 10 support! The Company of Heroes DirectX 10 patch is live on www.nzone.com This patch adds DX10 support with new features like soft particles, coverage sampling antialiasing, instanced foliage and ambient objects, short grass using instanced terrain shells, and normal map compression. Be sure to download the new v158.45 beta driver before testing. It is important to disable Vsync with this command line option for DX10 testing, because it can greatly affect scores, even if average frame rates are well below screen refresh rate if Vsync was enabled.

Let’s take a look at the image quality and see how ATI and NVIDIA does on this new DirectX 10 game demo. It’s clear that both AMD and NVIDIA want the tests run with Vsync turned off so we disabled Vsync by adding “-novsync” to the end of the path of the shortcut on the desktop.

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