Part 3: Building A Balanced Gaming PC

Benchmark Results: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky represents the second game so graphically intensive that we are unable to maximize the quality details and enable AA at the same time. The game is not known for being well-threaded, so any of our tested dual-core CPUs are capable of delivering playable performance. In essence, what’s going to determine playability in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is having enough GPU muscle for the resolution at which you hope to game at.

We typically use an average of the four scores given by the stand-alone benchmark to measure S.T.A.L.K.E.R. performance. But for this story, we spent some time playing the game on various hardware, and then came close to utilizing a FRAPS benchmark run instead. Unlike Crysis, you do not really need to get far into S.T.A.L.K.E.R. before the game shows your hardware just what it’s going to be up against. All that it takes is exiting a building for the first time while the morning sun rays shine into camp.

For Parts 1 & 2 of this series, we found the benchmark tool useful, but we needed to set the minimum target at 45 FPS on average. In every scenario benchmarked, if the overall average was 45 FPS, the “Sun Shafts” test averaged about 30 FPS. Overclocking these CPUs has helped increase averages through higher framerates in the less GPU-demanding tests, meaning an adjustment of our target to 48 FPS needed to be made to maintain the desired 30 FPS Sun Shafts performance. Playing the game at these settings still results in areas where the frame rates drop to the mid 20s, but overall still seemed to represent what we could consider playable performance.

The overclocked Radeon HD 5750 averages around 45 FPS overall, but only manages 25 FPS in the Sun Shafts test. The GeForce GTX 260 and Radeon HD 4890 are more up to the task. Results are mainly GPU-limited, with some scaling by CPU clock speed and architecture.

Bumping up the resolution, the GeForce GTX 260 now falls to 27 FPS in the most GPU-demanding test. More acceptable performance can be found by pairing the Radeon HD 4890 or higher with any of these overclocked processors.

Increasing resolution again, the factory overclocked GeForce GTX 285 now falters to 27 FPS in the Sun Shafts test. Stepping up to the Radeon HD 5870 provides an average 12-14 FPS boost in performance, more importantly adding about 10 FPS to the most GPU-intensive test.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. at 2560x1600 was one of the two game tests where none of our stock platforms were able to deliver playable performance in Parts 1 and 2. Here, the overclocked GeForce GTX 295 delivers the 30 FPS we seek, while an additional 10 FPS can be maintained by stepping up to a stock Radeon HD 5970. The E6300 is pretty much adequate, but it’s hard to argue against more CPU when dumping this kind of money into graphics.

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    Top Comments
  • builderbobftw
    Quote:
    Its total nonsense, buying pc for gaming today. I have Xbox360 and PS3 + Nintendo DS and also QuadCore based gaming PC. I dont play on PC anymore, im only using it for browsing, listening music and communicating with others. Netbook should be totally sufficient for such task, i will never buy PC for gaming in future. GO and buy gaming console, if you have good TV, and you will be sitting around 2 - 2,5 meters from screen, graphics is pretty good - totally sufficient.


    if the diffrence bewteen console and PC isn't night and day, you must be using a 5450.
    14
  • ColMirage
    fatkid35first!

    Facepalm...

    Glad to see the last part of the series. Very useful!
    12
  • Other Comments
  • fatkid35
    first!
    -31
  • ColMirage
    fatkid35first!

    Facepalm...

    Glad to see the last part of the series. Very useful!
    12
  • liquidsnake718
    I love how on the first page picture of all the games on this article show the games that truly take a toll on GPU's and CPU's. You are however missing Metro 2033 and Dirt 2 in DX11 which obliterates some GPUs in DX11!
    -3
  • IzzyCraft
    A metro 2033 graph wouldn't be interesting it would start at 0 and end at 5 for most set ups :D
    8
  • Anonymous
    The choice of Corsair Dominator for the RAM is surprising, given that there are equally fast and stable choices at a much lower price point. OCZ, G Skill, Crucial, etc. I still love their power supplies though.
    0
  • duk3
    ColMirageGlad to see the last part of the series. Very useful!


    They mentioned a part 4 in the article, with overclocking AMD processors.
    0
  • kaintfm
    The choice of Corsair Dominator for the RAM is surprising, given that there are equally fast and stable choices at a much lower price point. OCZ, G Skill, Crucial, etc. I still love their power supplies though.
    1
  • agnickolov
    And where is the Core i3 530? This is the real gaming gem of a CPU, but I hardly see it in any reviews @ Tom's...
    0
  • manitoublack
    Bought 2 GTX295's on release and run them on my i7-920, in SLi at 640MHz. Still over a year on and there still almost top dog.

    Great review Toms, and makes it easier to sleep at night knowing that 14months on little can touch what I've got regardless of the $1600AUD buyin.
    -10
  • FUtomNOreg
    Very enlightening though, given my current rig's specs, thoroughly depressing. Curse you for breaking my delusion that my PC was adequate! I feel an overwhelming urge to upgrade coming on.....
    3
  • micky_lund
    haha...the i5s so close to the i7 in everything :D....such as an awesome buy for gaming, on the intel side at least
    6
  • Lewis57
    A great article. I'm impressed with the I5 in all these charts. It would of been nice to use something a bit beefier than the i7-920 to see if that itself is causing a bottle neck.
    0
  • gti88
    Wolfdale will still be a decent CPU until 2012, I guess.
    0
  • bikermicefrmars
    Where's i3, please include it in tests with same clock speed as E8400 and show its performance!
    0
  • kartu
    5770 wasn't even considered? :(
    8
  • Anonymous
    I am very suprised that the quad core processors seem to give better results with the 5870. I wonder why that is. I still have my Q6600 OC'ed to 3.2...I was thinking that I should upgrade to teh i5 750...but after seeing this article...I am struggling to find a reason.....well unless I have a lot of money for a dual GPU card.....NOT.....;(
    0
  • Anonymous
    Its total nonsense, buying pc for gaming today. I have Xbox360 and PS3 + Nintendo DS and also QuadCore based gaming PC. I dont play on PC anymore, im only using it for browsing, listening music and communicating with others. Netbook should be totally sufficient for such task, i will never buy PC for gaming in future. GO and buy gaming console, if you have good TV, and you will be sitting around 2 - 2,5 meters from screen, graphics is pretty good - totally sufficient.
    -18
  • builderbobftw
    Quote:
    Its total nonsense, buying pc for gaming today. I have Xbox360 and PS3 + Nintendo DS and also QuadCore based gaming PC. I dont play on PC anymore, im only using it for browsing, listening music and communicating with others. Netbook should be totally sufficient for such task, i will never buy PC for gaming in future. GO and buy gaming console, if you have good TV, and you will be sitting around 2 - 2,5 meters from screen, graphics is pretty good - totally sufficient.


    if the diffrence bewteen console and PC isn't night and day, you must be using a 5450.
    14
  • JohnnyLucky
    Looking forward to reading the next article in the series.
    1
  • shin0bi272
    so you guys claim we should be looking to buy a 285 (dx10 card) and a core2 duo 8400 (socket 775)? Exactly what are you smoking? yeah here go buy this 1982 ford mustang... its a mustang for crying out loud... its just the WORST mustang ever made. And its old technology so you could do a lot better by buying a newer one that will last longer and have better technology.
    -5