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Benchmark Results: Fallout 3

Part 1: Building A Balanced Gaming PC
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Fallout 3

In Fallout 3, we use FRAPS to benchmark a 60 second run through our “Capital Wasteland” saved game. For smoother combat sequences, we’ll again keep the target at 40 FPS in this action RPG. There was no problem cranking details to maximum, while also enabling 4x AA and 15x AF to further enhance the gaming experience.

The Radeon HD 4850 is once again the obvious limitation, and is drastically outclassed by the more expensive graphics cards. But with minimum frame rates of 39-42 FPS, the card is more than capable of pushing eye candy at this low resolution. 

There’s definitely some CPU scaling with all the other graphics cards, and it takes the upper three processors to balance out the single-GPU cards. When paired with the Core i7-920, the GeForce GTX 285 joins the Radeon HD 4870 X2 and GeForce GTX 295 in breaking the 90 FPS mark.

We see a few more of the lines start to flatten out, indicating balance and a shift toward a GPU limitation. But, in the end, the cheapest E6300/Radeon HD 4850 combination is still capable of dishing out playable performance on a 22” widescreen at its native resolution. 

Considering the time that could be put into playing Fallout 3, it’s refreshing to see even our cheapest solution still capable of decent performance with maxed-out 4x AA/15x AF on a 24” LCD. That amounts to quite a bit of visually-pleasing gaming at a modest expense. However, with minimum frame rates now dropping to 29-30 FPS, gamers who demand smoother performance may want to overclock or step up to the more powerful GeForce GTX 260 matched up to an E8400 or equivalent CPU.

At 2560x1600, the single-GPU cards become the limitation, falling into a staggered ranking, just as expected. The 512MB Radeon HD 4850 is now reduced to choppy performance, but the GeForce GTX 260 is able to reach the target and provide anywhere from 27-29 minimum FPS. The Radeon HD 4890 and GeForce GTX 285 add about five FPS more in minimum FPS, offering a higher degree of smoothness. On the upper end, the minimum FPS for the Radeon HD 4870 X2 and GeForce GTX 295 both range from 37 FPS when paired up to the E6300 to the mid or upper 40s when matched up to the other three CPUs.

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