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Benchmark Results: Crysis

Part 2: Building A Balanced Gaming PC
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Crysis:

First up…Crysis. Although this first-person shooter was released in November of 2007, it still arguably represents one of the most graphically-demanding games out there. We needed to settle for less-than-maximum eye candy just to achieve any level of playability, so our compromise was to test at Very High detail levels and no AA, rather than drop to high details and enable AA.

Utilizing our normal benchmark tool provides a good combination of graphical eye candy and physics effects. Our typical target has been 40 FPS, but we put that foregone conclusion to the test in preparation for this series, playing and FRAPS benchmarking numerous configurations in three of the most demanding levels of the game.

The 40 FPS target remains our recommendation. Although Crysis is still quite playable at less than 40 FPS, there will be areas in levels like “Paradise Lost” and “Assault” where framerates will drop into the mid 20s. We feel the 40 FPS recommendation is a safe bet for acceptable performance, although the possibility still exists that stuttering during the game’s closing battle in “Reckoning” could require settings to be tuned down just a bit.

Part 1 charts contained both the lowest- and highest-end processor, so right off the bat you’ll notice far less CPU scaling in these charts. This round, none of the tested CPUs fall in the “too little CPU performance” category. 

The flat lines for all of the single-GPU cards indicate GPU limitations, although by looking back to Part 1 we do see that the GeForce GTX 285 was able to climb over the target line and even edge out the Radeon HD 4890 when paired with the Intel Core i7-920. The ($282) Radeon HD 4890/Phenom II X2 550 combination is the cheapest platform to reach our target, and also represents good balance when playing Crysis with very high details at this low resolution.

In the scaling observed with the dual-GPU cards, we see the third processing core of the AMD Phenom II X3 720 BE more than makes up for the 300 MHz clock speed disadvantage it gives up to the Phenom II X2 550. This is a comparison you’ll want to keep an eye on throughout today’s data analysis. Having both the most cores and highest clocks, the Phenom II X4 955 BE allows the Radeon HD 4870 X2 to reach within 1 FPS of its peak performance in Part 1, while the GeForce GTX 295 is held way back and falls very shy of the 57.6 FPS reached with Intel's Core i7-920.  Along with less CPU scaling in general, this is also a trend you’ll notice throughout today’s data charts.

At 1680x1050, all of the single-GPU solutions already fall well below the target line and look nearly identical to the data generated in Part 1. Basically, to play Crysis at these settings, a $100 CPU can deliver playable performance, but you’ll need to shell out hefty money for dual GPUs or a Radeon HD 5870 graphics solution.

There simply isn’t enough CPU here for the GeForce GTX 295 to shine. While pairing with the Phenom II X4 955 BE does just reach our target, that is far shy of the 49 FPS reached with the Core i7-920. The Radeon HD 4870 X2 reaches our target with the cheapest CPU, but still benefits from being paired with more processing power than the Phenom II X3 720 BE offers. 

Combining data from both Parts 1 and 2, we see only the GeForce GTX 295 manages to reach our target level of performance at this resolution, but does so only when paired with one of our top three quad-core processors. Matching up with the Phenom II X4 955 BE scores exactly 40.0 FPS and provides the cheapest “stock clocked” platform explored thus far to deliver the desired level of playability. 

Again the six relatively-flat horizontal lines show it’s going to take a lot more GPU muscle to run Crysis at maximum details when pushing over 4 million pixels at this resolution.

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