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Grand Theft Auto 4

Gaming In 64-Bit: Tom's Tests, Microsoft Weighs In

We’ve received a number of requests to add Grand Theft Auto 4 to our benchmark suite, and this is the game’s first run through—and possibly its last. We said it before, back when we were encouraged by Nvidia to look at Dead Space, but ports to the PC from console platforms suffer from inexcusably horrible configuration options and user interface control. Don’t even get me started on the mandatory Social Club app that wants to continuously run in the background.

In a recent patch, Rockstar fixed some of what had originally ailed Grand Theft Auto, adding a finer level of control over the graphics settings and an option to disable vsync. However, the game still uses its own rendering pipeline, which doesn’t include anti-aliasing. That might be fine from 10 feet away on your TV, but it’s painfully obvious on a high-res monitor. For the sake of completeness, we forced anti-aliasing in Nvidia’s driver panel, but rest assured that you get no visual return on the investment of graphics horsepower.

If this is a title you’d really like to see maintained as a benchmark, let us know in the comments section. Otherwise, it’ll likely go the way of Dead Space.

Go figure. Despite all of our disdain for this as a test, it actually yields some interesting numbers—some of which are interesting for the wrong reason.

First and foremost, the retail packaging for Grand Theft Auto 4 mentions optimizations for multi-core processors and 64-bit computing. Well, if the two 3 GB configurations tell us anything, it’s that shifting to 64-bit actually hurts performance, rather than helping it. Not promising. And we'd certainly like some sort of clarification of what is meant by 64-bit optimization.

However, the addition of 3 GB more gives the 64-bit configuration a notable advantage at both tested resolutions. Finally, we begin to see extra memory yielding gains. The ironic thing is that 64-bit technology is less about “going faster,” as Chuck said, and more about enabling new scenarios. The irony is that the graphic detail in this console port isn’t exactly groundbreaking, yet it’s pushing our system harder that more notorious titles like Crysis.

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