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Whew. At least most of the tests we ran in Crysis: Warhead move in the right direction as we add graphics horsepower. Without question, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 280 cards dominate this title, delivering great frame rates with 3-way SLI enabled on the Core i7 965 Extreme.
Unfortunately, the AMD- and Nvidia-based setups all tank at 2560x1600, and in fact, demonstrate very poor scaling moving from two-way CrossFire/SLI to four/three-way CrossFire/SLI. At that resolution, there isn’t a single playable configuration available, it seems. If you’re willing to step back to 1920x1200, though, possibilities begin to open up.
We should have expected as much, but guess what? Turning on anti-aliasing does not, in fact, improve the performance of a test bed full of systems that weren’t running smoothly without it.
The GeForce GTX 280s actually continue performing well on both Intel’s Core 2 Extreme and its Core i7 965 Extreme configurations, approaching playable speeds with three cards installed. At 2560x1600, those same boards struggle to break double-digit frame rates, and even fail outright in the 3-way SLI/Core 2 Extreme QX9770 setup.
Not that the Radeons fare a whole lot better. At 1920x1200, none of our tested configurations are able to break 30 FPS. And at 2560x1600, a single Radeon HD 4870 with 512 MB of GDDR5 is simply unable to cope with the demands being placed on it. Adding memory and a second GPU does help, but not nearly enough to make the higher resolution viable by any means.
It is worth noting that the GeForce GTX 280 gives you better performance on Core i7 versus Core 2, while the Radeon HD 4870s actually sacrifice performance in shifting to Intel’s Nehalem architecture. It’d seem that AMD still has some driver optimization to do in this regard.