We used the full version of Call of Duty 2, patched to version 1.2 for our testing. All in game settings were set to their maximum apart from anisotropic filtering and anti-aliasing, which we varied for different portions of our testing. SLI optimisation was also turned off, as we weren't testing any dual card configurations.
Our benchmark is based on a custom demo that involves both indoor and outdoor scenes from one of the most intense sections of the game. Because the game is very texture heavy it really taxes the memory bandwidth of graphics cards which is why mid-range cards tend to struggle with it. Reducing in-game texture settings should result in improved performance.
We ran our tests twice, once with transparency anti-aliasing and once without to see how this advanced AA technique affected performance. The lighter bars represent our results with it turned on.
As predicted the throttled memory bandwidth of these midrange cards really struggles with the this texture heavy game. Only 1,280 x 1,024 with no AA or AF returns a playable framerate so in-game settings would need to be reduced to play at higher resolutions or with AA and AF.
The XFX Fatal1ty 8600 GT consistently stays within ten per cent the speed of the 8600 GTS. However, both 8600 cards fair little better than the previous generation cards, which is slightly disappointing.
Our benchmark doesn't use many transparent textures so there is little impact on performance for turning this feature on.