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3D Games: World in Conflict, Fallout 3, And Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X.

System Builder Marathon, Sept. '09: $650 Gaming PC
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3D Games: World in Conflict, Fallout 3, and Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X

Once again, results are CPU-limited in World in Conflict, but don’t ignore the impact the Radeon HD 4850s and Catalyst 9.9 drivers have on these results.

Unlike the $600 portable gaming machine from the last SBM, this month’s budget build does not need to be overclocked to play World in Conflict at maximum details.

The $650 machine leads again with all the eye candy enabled, offering playable performance up until the sharp drop at 2560x1600. Notice in our typical resolutions, while both machines seem to be CPU-limited at stock clocks speeds, overclocking brings out some scaling by resolution associated with GPU limitations. Apart from the poor showing once again by the stock $600 PC, all others maintain a decent level of playability up through 1920x1200. 

In this round we removed S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and added two new game benchmarks to the SBM test suite. The $650 PC breezes through all resolutions in Fallout 3, taunting us to enable some eye candy and to give it a challenge. 

Even with 4x AA and 15x anisotropic filtering (AF) enabled, the $650 PC put up stellar performance at the first three resolutions. The minimum frame rates didn’t drop below 44 frames per second (FPS) at 1920x1200 at stock speeds and 53 FPS once overclocked. 

The massive hit in average frame rates when enabling 4x AA at 2560x1600 also carried over to minimum frame rates. Without AA and AF enabled, minimum frame rates at 2560 x1600 were 45 FPS at stock and 52 FPS overclocked. But enabling eye candy dropped the minimum frame rates to 22 FPS and 25 FPS at stock and overclock speeds, respectively. Many gamers would then rather lower AA and maintain smoother 2560x1600 gameplay.   

While overclocking yielded about a 17% increase in average frame rates, the stock $650 machine is still playable through all resolutions. 

With the added graphics demands of enabling 4x AA, greater scaling is seen between resolutions. Our highest tested resolution was unplayable and full of hitching, while even the game’s menu navigation was noticeably slower.

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