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Results: F1 2012 And Far Cry 3

System Builder Marathon, Q4 2013: $800 Gaming PC

F1 2012

As with Skyrim, our two machines are CPU-bound in F1 2012. The more expensive Core i5 establishes a good lead in average and minimum framerates. But we can certainly argue that the advantage is overkill, since both rigs are capable of delivering a minimum of 60 FPS+ using the Ultra detail setting at 4800x900.

Far Cry 3

Far Cry 3 is the most demanding game we tested during our System Builder Marathons this past year, and one of those rare titles that justifies an investment in high-end graphics for medium-resolution gaming.

At High-quality settings with anti-aliasing applied, there's a hint of a graphics bottleneck appearing at 1920x1080. In my opinion, the stock $650 PC is playable through 4800x900, since this game doesn't require high framerates for an enjoyable experience, and minimums don't dip below 34 FPS. Gamers who insist on higher averages will likely value the 49 FPS minimum achieved by my $800 PC.

At our Ultra-quality settings with 4x MSAA enabled, a GeForce GTX 760 is about as low as you'd want to go to play at 1920x1080. The stock $650 system averages less than 37 FPS, but never drops below 32 FPS. An aggressively overclocked GeForce GTX 760 or today's system's factory-tuned R9 280X is capable of sustaining at least 40 FPS.

Although neither configuration survives through 4800x900 at these taxing settings, simply disabling MSAA made the $800 machine playable. In fact, while I was stability testing the overclocked $800 PC, I put in more than two hours of game time and had no issues with smoothness. My box averaged 39.4 FPS and never dropped below 36, putting it above the stock $650 PC’s frame rates scaled back to the High preset.

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