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Hardware Test: Can A High-End PC Achieve A Performance Break-Through?

Cryostasis: From Russia, With An Appetite For Fast Hardware
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In these tests, the Gaming PC 2 and Gaming PC 3 come into play. Based on an overclocked Intel Core 2 Quad 6600 and an AMD Phenom II X4 940 BE, with clock rates at 3.0 GHz and 3.6 GHz, we tested the two platforms with GeForce GTX 260 and GTX 285 graphics cards. In addition, we also tested two GeForce GTX cards on the AMD system, both in SLI and in dual, independent card configurations, both for graphics output and PhysX acceleration. All graphics settings were either turned on (where no value settings were available) or set to their highest levels. The test runs were further separated to compare Shader Model 3.0 and 4.0.

Intel Versus AMD

From the get-go, the difference between the two CPUs was unmistakable. At the same clock rates, our old and overclocked Intel quad-core outperformed the AMD Phenom II, whether at 3.0 GHz or at 3.6 GHz. The performance boost going from 3.0 to 3.6 GHz had an obvious impact on the minimal frame rates. Although the average frame rate also climbed, it didn’t improve as much as the minimum values. Because both systems delivered more or less identical results, we also decided to perform some more tests on the AMD system (Gaming PC 3) to observe the impact of SLI. Here, we have to give AMD a significant nod for its Phenom II X4, because its older dual cores painted a much bleaker picture.

Quad-Core Versus Dual-Core

We compared our first set of benchmarks, taken with two cores deactivated, against another set taken with all four cores turned on. This led to the somewhat sheepish realization that this game does not benefit much from the addition of additional processing cores. What doesn’t work with two cores, still doesn’t work with four cores, either. This is too bad, because the PhysX calculation on the CPU could have benefited from this scenario.

Benchmarks: High Settings

Next, we focused on high graphics settings with PhysX and Shader Model 3.0.

…and then, with Shader Model 4.0.

Results:

  • For Shader Model 3.0, frame rates are slightly higher than they are for 4.0
  • Frame rates scale well above 3.0 GHz as clock rates climb, for both processors
  • SLI confers somewhat higher frame rates, but doesn’t scale well for this game
  • The combination of a graphics card for rendering plus a second card for the PhysX accelerator doesn’t do much
  • As before, the CPU remains the measure of all things for this game.

Playability

On any of these configurations at high settings and with all four tested graphics cards, game play is fluid throughout. But not everybody has a PC that belongs to this performance class. This puts the game into a two-class model (the haves and the have-nots). We can only hope a future patch might remedy the situation.

Eye Candy

The visible differences between these settings and their mid-range counterparts are not terribly striking, as you have to look carefully to see any improvements. That said, shadows and steam look much more natural at first glance. Even here, hardware investments and results don’t seem to show a meaningful relationship. By comparison to FEAR 2: Project Origin, the benefits are very noticeable.

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Top Comments
  • 14 Hide
    curnel_D , June 12, 2009 7:14 AM
    I'll be honest, I really didnt like the way the benchmark sections were done. Not because of poor information, but because of poor management of that information. At 3 in the morning, it's hard to figure out what's going on.

    On the flip side, I do like the game reviews lately. Perhaps we can see a resurection of Toms Games, and perhaps even the illustrious Second Take? :D 
  • 11 Hide
    falchard , June 12, 2009 9:30 AM
    I would like to see a game developer say. Screw nVidia, they keep holding back progress and use their developers network as a method to retain a user base. I am going to make a game that completely takes advantage of ATI hardware. From multi-processing units, to tesselation and ray tracing.
  • 10 Hide
    Onus , June 12, 2009 11:43 AM
    I think they mostly used nVidia because of PhysX, at least that was my take on it. They did use some ATI cards too.
    Although this is not my kind of game, the review was written in a manner that I thought gave good information on how it might run on my system.
    I'd like to see Second Take return as well, even though I don't recall it addressing hardware requirements the way this review did.
Other Comments
  • -1 Hide
    truehighroller , June 12, 2009 6:26 AM
    I heard this game was messy. I recently purchased Prototype though and it is a good game...
  • 2 Hide
    werr20 , June 12, 2009 6:36 AM
    i played this game and it's nice ! i have x3 720be(2,8ghz),4gb ram ddr2, 4850 512mb .on my pc it runs smooth
  • -1 Hide
    anamaniac , June 12, 2009 6:44 AM
    Penttium D 2.8GHz, 1gb ddr2 533, ATi 4670 (underclocked to hell because of computer stability recently).

    I took the game all not too bad.
    Looks and sounds amazing.

    However, it couldn't really catch my attention long enough to develop an interest to delve even 30 minutes into the game.
  • 2 Hide
    darkpower45 , June 12, 2009 6:48 AM
    soooo when did toms start to do game reviews? just a thought. The game looks pretty good though. The good think about the review is that it showed the performance on the low end systems. Good review even if its a game not hardware.
  • 14 Hide
    curnel_D , June 12, 2009 7:14 AM
    I'll be honest, I really didnt like the way the benchmark sections were done. Not because of poor information, but because of poor management of that information. At 3 in the morning, it's hard to figure out what's going on.

    On the flip side, I do like the game reviews lately. Perhaps we can see a resurection of Toms Games, and perhaps even the illustrious Second Take? :D 
  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , June 12, 2009 7:48 AM
    You managed to benchmark with Nvidia cards exclusively, you keep reminding me why I almost never visit this site any more.
  • 3 Hide
    Andraxxus , June 12, 2009 9:02 AM
    If you have a good PC it might be an enjoyable experience but if you don't have one then stay away. I could not even run it but i've seen in on a good PC and it looks and sounds good.
  • 11 Hide
    falchard , June 12, 2009 9:30 AM
    I would like to see a game developer say. Screw nVidia, they keep holding back progress and use their developers network as a method to retain a user base. I am going to make a game that completely takes advantage of ATI hardware. From multi-processing units, to tesselation and ray tracing.
  • 10 Hide
    Onus , June 12, 2009 11:43 AM
    I think they mostly used nVidia because of PhysX, at least that was my take on it. They did use some ATI cards too.
    Although this is not my kind of game, the review was written in a manner that I thought gave good information on how it might run on my system.
    I'd like to see Second Take return as well, even though I don't recall it addressing hardware requirements the way this review did.
  • 3 Hide
    marraco , June 12, 2009 11:45 AM
    Is fantasy, not science fiction.

    I played the game entirely, and I don't recommend it until a much needed patch is available.

    The game really gets no benefit from PhysX (I buyed the game hoping to play a game physx capable).

    And the performance is really poor. I was forced to play it on 1024x768, without any antialiasing, on a Geforce 8800 GT oc, and still got lots of glitches, and bad framerates.

    The sound frequently ruined itself completely, and sometimes crashed.

    Sometimes you get stuck on places, and finds yourself incapable of progressing. Then reload an older saved game, and finds that you got stuck because of a bug, instead a by design game. Sometimes a tube bends too vertically, and you cannot escape a room, or fix it.

    The savegame system is broken. Sometimes you save a game, but are unable to reload it, or reload it and after a looong reload time, just finds that the small screenshot and filename does not match what was showed, and you loaded another file.

    Although the game introduces some welcomed original innovations (common First Person Shooters are getting really repetitive lately), all the bugs it have make playing it a really painful experience. I had good hardware, but my experience was poor, and was no exception. I found lots of people with the same problems on internet (although others had slower hardware than me, and got no problems).

    I strongly recommend to wait for a patch to be released, before acquiring the game.

    After it, I played FEAR 2. It was so much optimized software, and played so smoothly, even on max settings, that I really enjoyed it.
  • 0 Hide
    theubersmurf , June 12, 2009 12:19 PM
    There are some glitches, and I think it could use some serious optimization. I ran it on an i7 920 (no overclock) with a single gtx 260, got playable framerates...but not stellar ones (with physx on, 1680x1050). I think the game is worth seeing...Sadly, what is sort supposed to be horror in the game sort of comes across as ludicrous IMO, but it is different, and worth seeing in that light (again IMO).
  • 0 Hide
    cinergy , June 12, 2009 2:03 PM
    asdasd777888You managed to benchmark with Nvidia cards exclusively, you keep reminding me why I almost never visit this site any more.


    I'd rather prefer them not use ATI cards if they do nvidia tech related articles. But then again, I'd prefer them not to do nvidia tech related articles/promo in the beginning with. Physx should be pretty much covered already. Its a dying proprietary technology anyhow (OpenCL).
  • -3 Hide
    GAZZOO , June 12, 2009 2:42 PM
    I have been waiting for this game to come out for over a year now and what am i confronted with
    It was made for nvidia well you know where nvidia can put it because I wont be buying it or and nvidia card even though the cards Im running could play the game I will boycot the game Thankyou nvidia for the one eyed view of trying to monopolize the gameing industry
    Gazz
  • 3 Hide
    scooterlibby , June 12, 2009 3:09 PM
    darkpower45soooo when did toms start to do game reviews? just a thought.


    When they completely eviscerated the Tom's Games site, which had been producing excellent game reviews for a while. I miss that site and wish it hadn't been turned into flash porn game hell. I don't mine the opining in this article at all!
  • 1 Hide
    hardwarekid9756 , June 12, 2009 6:10 PM
    AMAZING!

    Good objectivity in the opinion-part of the game.
    Great depth to the analysis.

    Phenomenal run-down of hardware. It gives the perfect idea of what you need and where to look. If Best of Media keeps their reviewing like this, there may be hope left!
  • 1 Hide
    megamanx00 , June 12, 2009 7:23 PM
    I would have liked to have seen the low end PC2 with 2GB of Ram rather than 1GB. Most systems around that time had 2GB and the extra Ram would have influenced playability. Just a thought. Anyway it seems interesting enough that I may give this game a try.
  • 3 Hide
    Pei-chen , June 12, 2009 8:01 PM
    How much adventure/FPS games have fallen; from KOTOR to this dark alley piece of crap. Game should have good lighting and not "you-are-in-a-dark-room" lighting all the time.
  • 2 Hide
    starryman , June 12, 2009 8:08 PM
    Hey I love FPS but damn they are getting really boring. Someone needs to break the mold. Typical screen shot - scenery with some kind of smoke, water, or fire in the background and a pair of bloody hands, or a sword, or a crazy ax, or oversized gun with sights. Well it was cool years ago but can someone build something more interesting.

    Also will some game manufacture get the balls and also build peripherals dedicated to their game? I'd spend $70-80 if a game is good and also comes with interesting controllers. Maybe foot operated buttons or additional USB attachment that has physical alerts.

    Damn... come on... I have better ideas in this single post than EA and Valve in the last decade.
  • 0 Hide
    jerreece , June 12, 2009 9:23 PM
    Haven't finished Cryostasis yet, but have played it. As a game, it's alright. I did stay up late a couple nights plugging away, but I wouldn't see it as a game to play twice.

    Played it on my system and it was pretty smooth.

    Q6600 @ 3.2Ghz, 680i LT SLI, 4GB XMS2 @ 800Mhz, Win 7 64bit(7100), WD Black Caviar Raid-0 (1TB x 2), MSI GTX 260 Core 216 (655Mhz). Asus 22" @ 1920 x 1080.
  • 3 Hide
    turboflame , June 12, 2009 10:57 PM
    The game is extremely slow paced and boring, lost interest about a quarter of the way through. It had some interesting ideas thrown in but overall the game is basically doom with better graphics in slow motion.

    Also I only got around 10-30 fps regardless of the graphics settings (7750BE, 4GB DDR2 800, HD3850).
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