Part 3: Building A Balanced Gaming PC

Benchmark Results: Grand Theft Auto IV

Grand Theft Auto IV

The amount of available memory for each graphics core determines the detail levels Grand Theft Auto (GTA) IV allows to be used. Rather than bypassing this constraint, we basically cranked settings for the 896MB per GPU available on the GeForce GTX 260 and GTX 295. Note that, here, if you were using cards with 1GB per graphics processor, you could further raise Shadows to Very High and set view distance to 30%.

I was totally new to the GTA series when I started work on this project. But having heard the voices of readers wanting to see this game added to the benchmark suite, I obliged. The first order of business was to play the game on various configurations and get accustomed to the expected performance and hardware requirements. We again use the game’s built-in benchmark and shoot for a target of 40 FPS. Some time spent playing on our tested platforms indicated that systems capable of reaching this target were at least playable, providing 30+ FPS during intensive gameplay, with just the occasional dip into the mid 20s. Whether in-game or running the benchmark, GTA IV doesn’t seem push graphics cards all that hard.

GTA IV is clearly the most CPU/system-limited game we have visited thus far, as performance for all graphics cards are pretty much bunched tight together. The overclocked Pentium E6300 is able to provide 50+ FPS on average, but it’s clear this CPU is holding back even our lowest tested video card. If you are seeking balance, opt for a high-clocked Core 2 Duo, or better yet a processor with more cores.

Pretty much the same results are seen at 1680x1050, although a bit more spacing is evident between graphics cards.

Again, the Pentium E 6300 + Radeon HD 5750 get the job done. Given enough CPU horsepower, though, a GeForce GTX 260 or Radeon HD 4890 offer a far greater level of performance.

At stock clocks, the GeForce GTX 260 completely fell below the mark at 2560x1600, but the factory-overclocked card sits comfortably above the line paired with Intel's Core 2 Duo E8400 or quad-core processors.

If you are stuck with a weaker CPU, the Radeon HD 4890 looks to be the better route to go. Safer yet, pair a quad-core CPU with either the GeForce GTX 285 or Radeon HD 5870 for even smoother gameplay. Also remember that cards with 1GB of graphics RAM allow slightly higher detail levels than what we are able to run with the 896MB frame buffer of the GeForce GTX 260 and GTX 295.

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  • 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