I have a game using DirectX 9, and a development station using Win 7 x64. I am still able to get access to another station with Vista x64 / dual booted with WinXP x86.

I wanted to check early Z efficiency in the game and to my sadness all tools I have tried seem to be unable to perform this task:

AMD PerfStudio

  • AMD GPUPerfStudio 2 does not support DirectX 9 at all
  • AMD GPUPerfStudio 1.2 does not install correctly on Windows 7. When I have tweaked the MSI package (a simple OS version check adjustment was needed), it complained the drivers I have do not provide needed instrumentation. The drivers old enough to support the GPUPerfStudio would most likely not be able to operate with my Radeon 5750 card (though this is something I am not 100 % sure, I did not attempt to try any older drivers, not knowing which I should look for)


PIX does not seem to contain any counters like this. It offers some ATI specific counters, but when I try to activate them, the PIX reports "PIX encountered a problem while attaching to the target program."

I do not want to upgrade to DX 10/11 just to be able to profile the game, but it seems without the step I am somewhat locked with a toolset which is no longer supported.

I see only one obvious options which would probably work, and that is using WinXP (or with a little bit of luck even Vista) station, perhaps with some older AMD card, to make sure GPUPerfStudio 1.2 works.

Other than that, can anyone recommend other options how to check GPU HW counters (HiZ / EarlyZ in particular, but if others would be enabled as well, it would be a nice bonus) for a DirectX 9 game on Windows 7, preferably on AMD GPU? (If that is not possible, I would definitely prefer switching GPU to switching the OS, but before I do so I would like to know if I will not hit the same problem with nVidia again)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, after I have tested nvPerfHUD on Vista x64, I am a bit disappointed, as it does not seem to provide any means to detect Early Z efficiency. Performance monitor GPU HW counters does not seem to work at all, and there is no Developer Control panel on Vista x64, which would allow me to enable them. Compared to X360 PIX the Windows tools are still like a poor relative. \$\endgroup\$
    – Suma
    Commented Mar 2, 2011 at 9:08

2 Answers 2


Early Z is just a comparison of depths and ditching off the pixel shader. Why don't you compare overall performance with Early Z enabled and then with it disabled (via modifying the depth of your pixel in the pixel shader by a really insignificant value) ?


Based on the feature list it seems even nvPerfHUD no longer supports DirectX 9 on Win7, but it is still supported on Vista. This is kind of surprise to me, I though the drivers for Vista / Win7 are almost identical, it would be interesting to know the reason. There is however one post on nVidia forum which mentions "Windows 7 x64, NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GTS 512MB, Drivers 266.58 & NVPerfHUD 6.7" as a working configuration, therefore this might be just a feature list oversight:

  • Supports DirectX10 on Windows Vista or Windows 7

  • Supports DirectX 9 on Windows XP and Windows Vista

The new nVidia debugging product nSight does not support DirectX 9 at all.

Unless the nvPerfHUD still works with Win7 and DX 9 (can anyone confirm?), it means the options for DirectX 9 profiling seem to be quite limited:

  • use Vista (or WinXP, with nvPerfHUD upto 6.62) machine with recent nVidia card and nvPerfHUD
  • use Vista (or WinXP) machine with old ATI card and GPUPerfStudio 1.2

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