It's been six months since PC gamers have been able to get their hands on Nvidia's GeForce 8000-series of 3D graphics cards, and this week saw the launch of ATI's own Radeon HD 2900 XT. All of these cards are DirectX 10 ready, which means they'll be able to play the next-generation, Vista gaming titles as soon as they're out. Today, thanks to the DirectX 10 demo of Capcom's Lost Planet, we finally get some software to put that next-gen hardware to work.
You'll need Windows Vista, and either an Nvidia GeForce 8000 series or an ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT card to be able to try out the DX10 version of the demo (XP users, and Vista owners with older graphics cards can grab the DX9 version). ATI owners should note that the new Radeons haven't been certified on this game yet. Given that ATI's drivers are in such an early state, we wouldn't expect outstanding performance, but the good news is that it could get better as ATI's software matures. We won't be testing with this demo, as its release was basically shepherded by Nvidia in response to the launch of ATI's new card. You can find test results around the Web, though. Fairness aside, we're just glad to finally have something to try out our DX10 hardware.
We tried a brief side-by-side with the DX9 demo on one PC and the DX10 demo on another (both Nvidia-powered PCs). We weren't able to tell the difference in still shots, but the motion blur effects in the DX10 demo seemed more advanced. Our DX10 test bed, the recently reviewed Maingear X-Cube, is no budget PC, either, but it definitely showed signs of choppy frame rates, even at a modest 1280x960 resolution. A warning in the beginning of the demo says that it's not final code, so hopefully, between driver revisions and a more stable shipping game, the final experience will be smoother and less demanding. If not, it's going to be an expensive upgrade path to smooth DX10 gameplay.