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Far Cry 3 Performance, Benchmarked

Far Cry 3 Performance, Benchmarked
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The third installment of the Far Cry series is more impressive as a game (to us, at least) than its predecessor. But do you need really powerful hardware to enjoy it? We benchmark 15 different graphics cards and eight different CPUs to find out.

The Far Cry franchise enjoys a distinguished place in the history of PC gaming. At the beginning of 2004, while we were busy drooling over how awesome John Carmack's upcoming Doom 3 looked in its promotional screenshots, upstart game developer Crytek shipped its own first-person shooter several months ahead of id's offering and wowed jaded enthusiasts accustomed to dark, enclosed environments. Although Doom 3 went on to become a huge commercial success, I personally think that Far Cry was the better game by far. It defined what a open-world sandbox shooter could be. There's no right or wrong way to play the game; we could use stealth or run-and-gun as we saw fit.

Beautiful scenery.Beautiful scenery.

Crytek was not involved in Far Cry 2, and the franchise was (man)handled by Ubisoft's Montreal development team. It was a sequel in name, but didn't have anything to do with its predecessor, aside from the fact that they both featured palm trees. The game received generally positive reviews, but several of the Tom's Hardware editors remember Far Cry 2 as being forgettable. I don't think any of us bothered to finish that one.

Ship ahoy, cap'n!Ship ahoy, cap'n!

As a result, my expectations of Far Cry 3 were deliberately held in check, as I half-expected a lame cash-in on the franchise. Happily, I was wrong; Ubisoft managed to create something very special. It has the original Far Cry's lush island setting and open-world freedom combined with The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion's exploration and loot mechanics, Battlefield's outpost capturing, Just Cause 2's vehicle variety and flavor, and a handful of unique innovations, including a crafting system that doesn't make me want to gouge my eyes out and a tattoo-based skill mechanic.

Outpost secured, raise the flag.Outpost secured, raise the flag.

A huge interactive intro does an impeccable job of establishing the character and encouraging you to identify with his plight. I won't spoil any of the details, but I will issue a warning: this is one of those games that you should avoid if you don't have much self-control. That's how addictive it is. Allow it to, and it'll eat up the hours you should probably be spending with your family...

Reminds me of Half Life 2.Reminds me of Half Life 2.

...and that's only the single-player campaign. I avoided the competitive and co-op modes because our goal here is to measure PC hardware performance; that's really difficult in the variable world of multi-player gaming. So, let's have a look at the game's graphics and detail settings.

Bad guys are red. Vehicular homicide is appropriate.Bad guys are red. Vehicular homicide is appropriate.

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  • 36 Hide
    rdc85 , December 14, 2012 4:15 AM
    :D 

    I thinks it read like this

    "The good news for folks with Piledriver-based processors is that the FX-8350 is nearly as quick as Intel's Core i7-3960X (never mind the fact that the Core i7 costs more than $500..). "

    hehe....

    anyways good review...
  • 35 Hide
    sugetsu , December 14, 2012 4:00 AM
    "The good news for folks with Piledriver-based processors is that the FX-8350 is nearly as quick as Intel's Core i3-2100 (never mind the fact that the Core i3 costs $90 less)."

    My God... Are the reviewers of this website paid to make AMD look bad? Any person with a minimum hint of common sense can clearly see that there is virtually no difference between FX 8350, the i3, the i5 and i7. This is a big disservice to the community.
  • 31 Hide
    echondo , December 14, 2012 4:29 AM
    Why did the benchmark go from Medium straight to Ultra? Why not High settings? Now I don't know how well my 7870 will do on High at 1080p. It does pretty good at medium, but then gets destroyed with everything else on Ultra/high resolution.

    Why no middle ground? And why no 7970/680 tests in Crossfire/SLI? Why use single flagship cards, but then only use SLI/Crossfire for the medium bunch?

    I'm very glad to see that this game uses Crossfire/SLI effectively, ~50% increase in performance for dual GPU configurations.
Other Comments
  • 35 Hide
    sugetsu , December 14, 2012 4:00 AM
    "The good news for folks with Piledriver-based processors is that the FX-8350 is nearly as quick as Intel's Core i3-2100 (never mind the fact that the Core i3 costs $90 less)."

    My God... Are the reviewers of this website paid to make AMD look bad? Any person with a minimum hint of common sense can clearly see that there is virtually no difference between FX 8350, the i3, the i5 and i7. This is a big disservice to the community.
  • 36 Hide
    rdc85 , December 14, 2012 4:15 AM
    :D 

    I thinks it read like this

    "The good news for folks with Piledriver-based processors is that the FX-8350 is nearly as quick as Intel's Core i7-3960X (never mind the fact that the Core i7 costs more than $500..). "

    hehe....

    anyways good review...
  • 19 Hide
    Tom Burnqest , December 14, 2012 4:20 AM
    sugetsu"The good news for folks with Piledriver-based processors is that the FX-8350 is nearly as quick as Intel's Core i3-2100 (never mind the fact that the Core i3 costs $90 less)."My God... Are the reviewers of this website paid to make AMD look bad? Any person with a minimum hint of common sense can clearly see that there is virtually no difference between FX 8350, the i3, the i5 and i7. This is a big disservice to the community.

    LOL truthed ! I bet that 8350 when OCed can even close the tiny gap between it and the Intel processors. Can the i3 OC I don't think so.
  • 31 Hide
    echondo , December 14, 2012 4:29 AM
    Why did the benchmark go from Medium straight to Ultra? Why not High settings? Now I don't know how well my 7870 will do on High at 1080p. It does pretty good at medium, but then gets destroyed with everything else on Ultra/high resolution.

    Why no middle ground? And why no 7970/680 tests in Crossfire/SLI? Why use single flagship cards, but then only use SLI/Crossfire for the medium bunch?

    I'm very glad to see that this game uses Crossfire/SLI effectively, ~50% increase in performance for dual GPU configurations.
  • 22 Hide
    EzioAs , December 14, 2012 4:32 AM
    I've heard that FC3 was a demanding game but I never realized that ultra settings was SUPER demanding. Anyways, heard a lot of good things about this game, maybe I'll give it a try.

    Thanks Don for the great review as always.
  • 8 Hide
    Heironious , December 14, 2012 4:49 AM
    2 x 2GB Galaxy GTX 560's in SLI with everything maxed in game and control panel gives around 35 FPS average. (4 X MSAA only though) Ran the cards to 78 which is fine. Turned it down in the NVIDIA control panel to get steadier frames. Not the best looking game you've seen? I think it looks better than even BF 3.

    Edit: These still screen shots don't do it justice.
  • 6 Hide
    sayantan , December 14, 2012 5:07 AM
    This game can be really demanding on CPU depending upon the environment. In a firefight that involves flame throwers and explosions along with some AIs , you can see the framerates drop from 60 to 40 in no time. Also I would like to mention that game stutters like hell with anything below 60 fps . Even 57 -58 fps is unplayable and gives me headache. So it is essential to tweak the settings such that the fps is above 60 most of the time. The good thing is if you have a decent system you can maintain 60fps without loosing too much visual fiedelity. I can run the game at 0x AA @1080p with all other details maxed out using OCed 7970(1060,1575) and 2500k(4.0Ghz).
  • -1 Hide
    ilysaml , December 14, 2012 5:18 AM
    Too late to publish the article, but it's good and indicative as usual!
  • 12 Hide
    sayantan , December 14, 2012 5:28 AM
    sugetsu"The good news for folks with Piledriver-based processors is that the FX-8350 is nearly as quick as Intel's Core i3-2100 (never mind the fact that the Core i3 costs $90 less)."My God... Are the reviewers of this website paid to make AMD look bad? Any person with a minimum hint of common sense can clearly see that there is virtually no difference between FX 8350, the i3, the i5 and i7. This is a big disservice to the community.


    rdc85I thinks it read like this"The good news for folks with Piledriver-based processors is that the FX-8350 is nearly as quick as Intel's Core i7-3960X (never mind the fact that the Core i7 costs more than $500..). "hehe....anyways good review...


    The good thing is the game doesn't scale up with intel CPUs making the 8350 really look good in comparison.

  • 7 Hide
    sharpies , December 14, 2012 5:43 AM
    sugetsu"The good news for folks with Piledriver-based processors is that the FX-8350 is nearly as quick as Intel's Core i3-2100 (never mind the fact that the Core i3 costs $90 less)."My God... Are the reviewers of this website paid to make AMD look bad? Any person with a minimum hint of common sense can clearly see that there is virtually no difference between FX 8350, the i3, the i5 and i7. This is a big disservice to the community.



    Dude, the writer is only trying to point out that using a dual core i3 is more meaningful than using the 8core FX8350. AND B.T.W. its common sense than the latest games dont even benefit from so many cores. Stop moaning about whether or not the writer is an Intel fanboy because AMD performed well in the GPU section.
  • 5 Hide
    shahrooz , December 14, 2012 5:57 AM
    this game runs incredibly slow in DX11 compared to DX9 and the graphics are almost the same. I get like 30~40 FPS in DX11 ultra 1080p and 110~120 fps in DX9 ultra 1080p

    I use 310.70 drivers and evga GTX 580 in SLI
  • 6 Hide
    Tom Burnqest , December 14, 2012 6:03 AM
    shahroozthis game runs incredibly slow in DX11 compared to DX9 and the graphics are almost the same. I get like 30~40 FPS in DX11 ultra 1080p and 110~120 fps in DX9 ultra 1080p

    It's how it was worded as in they made it sound like the 8350 was at a grave disadvantage when that really was not the case at all in fact AMD needs to be praised as they made a good CPU for a change that is competitive with Intel's offerings in most tasks not to mention the AMD chip is a multithreading beast.
  • 2 Hide
    mesab66 , December 14, 2012 6:36 AM
    A little incomplete - we're missing some high end cards, Tom's.
  • 14 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , December 14, 2012 6:37 AM
    Why not test with the Core i5 3570k? Seems like that CPU has been coming up lately on Toms recommended buy for gaming.
  • 9 Hide
    silverblue , December 14, 2012 7:28 AM
    Quote:
    Speaking of multi-card solutions, notice that the Radeons achieve higher average results, but suffer lower minimum frame rates. In the frame rate-over-time chart, you can see that the GeForce boards in SLI yield smoother numbers than AMD's cards, which are not as consistent.


    Until you go to Eyefinity modes, in which case the 7870s not only pull away from the 660s, but maintain a far more consistent frame rate. Purely academic at that framerate though.

    Also, the fact that a heavily overclocked i7-3960X cannot beat the i5-3550 suggests it's GPU limited in the extreme. Piledriver cores are notably weaker per thread than Ivy Bridge (or Sandy Bridge, for that matter) which could explain the minimum frame rate being a little lower. If we really want to see CPU bottlenecking, I'd retest with lower quality graphics.
  • 12 Hide
    mohit9206 , December 14, 2012 7:40 AM
    am kinda surprised how the core i3 cpu pulls so far ahead of the dual core pentiums which seems to contradict the theory that hyperthreading does not benefit games too much.
    also toms should have done benchmark on high quality settings as well as thats the setting most people are going to play at
  • 6 Hide
    ArmedandDangerous , December 14, 2012 8:09 AM
    A lot of the settings in FC3 can and should be lowered with almost no obvious graphical quality loss. Shadows at Medium, SSAO OFF (HUGE FPS HOGGER HERE, disable it completely from the usersettings file in Documents>My Games>Far Cry 3) and Post Process (or whatever it's called). Medium will keep all the bells and whistles BUT it also disables Motion Blur, which is preferable for many gamers :) 
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , December 14, 2012 8:28 AM
    ArmedandDangerousA lot of the settings in FC3 can and should be lowered with almost no obvious graphical quality loss. Shadows at Medium, SSAO OFF (HUGE FPS HOGGER HERE, disable it completely from the usersettings file in Documents>My Games>Far Cry 3) and Post Process (or whatever it's called). Medium will keep all the bells and whistles BUT it also disables Motion Blur, which is preferable for many gamers


    yeah i get the feeling this article was a little rushed. there are quite a few settings that when slightly lower without any apparent decrease in visuals can have a dramatic increase in frame rates. just simply going with HDAO and medium shadows raised my FPS from 35 to 48 on my GTX 570 OC'd to 855.

    though it is a bit to ask for the author to spend 15 minutes tweaking out each card . . .
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , December 14, 2012 8:43 AM
    So wheres the gtx 680 tests? If your going to benchmark the AMD flagship 7970, then wouldnt it only be fair to benchmark the nvidia single chip flagship gtx 680?
  • 2 Hide
    Novuake , December 14, 2012 9:17 AM
    It seems they managed to finally optimize the heavily modded engine with both Nvidia AND AMD. Good news. I also have to say from the screenshots the game looks a lot more natural that the previous title, they seemed so glues together... Now to go buy the game...
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