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These are our largest Nvidia-based charts, including 11 different cards at three resolutions. Note that the GeForce GTX 400- and 500-series cards are DirectX 11-capable, and the 200-series boards are limited to DirectX 10. This is an important distinction because, even though the 200s throw up some reasonable performance numbers (especially the GTX 295), they’re not doing as much work. The game automatically dials Terrain Quality down from High to Low, yielding some pretty nasty artifacts as shadows interact with the environment.
Hopefully Nvidia can fix this in its drivers. For now, those older Nvidia cards don't do Battlefield 3 any favors; stick to the newer stuff (or go the AMD route—incidentally, AMD’s DX 10 cards don’t have this problem).
Update: Nvidia let us know that the issue we encountered is caused by a shadow corruption bug in its driver, which should be fixed in the next release. The company says it hopes to have that build available within a couple of weeks.
Mentally filtering out the 200-series boards, the rest of Nvidia’s armada scales down fairly evenly. At 1680x1050 (sticking to High quality settings), I’d want at least a GeForce GTX 560 Ti.
The same card would probably suffice at 1920x1080 too, though a GTX 570 would be even better.
Owners of 30” displays already threw down some big bucks for 2560x1600; a GeForce GTX 590 is the right two-slot solution there. If you’re willing to go SLI, two GeForce GTX 570s perform better (and cost less), as we’ll see in a few pages.