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Benchmark Results: Call Of Duty: MW2, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat, And DiRT 2

System Builder Marathon, March 2010: $750 Gaming PC
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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 offers impressive visuals on modest graphics hardware, and our CPU-limited average frame rates are nearly identical regardless of resolution or anti-aliasing (AA) settings. While overclocking increases performance by 17% and unlocking by 23%, the stock $750 PC still delivers excellent 1080p game play with the highest level of eye candy the game has to offer.

The system offers outstanding performance in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat without AA at the high preset, but is brought to its knees above 1280x1024 at ultra-high quality with 4x MSAA enabled.

Without enabling the added visuals of hardware tessellation, the DirectX 11 code path offers substantially better performance in this game than DirectX 10.1. Here, a pair of Radeon HD 5750s (and likely a single Radeon HD 5850) would easily outperform these Radeon HD 4850s.

DiRT 2 is another new DirectX 11 addition to our test suite. Unlike S.T.A.L.K.E.R., non-DirectX 11 hardware will default all the way back to DirectX 9 and run faster than a comparable DirectX 11 card. Visually, there isn’t a huge difference between the two paths, so owners of cards like the Radeon HD 5750 may want to force DirectX 9 for added performance.

The $750 PC doesn’t need overclocking to average over 60 FPS at 1080p with the highest available details and AA levels. The unlocked core provides a fairly large boost in performance, at least up until the higher settings where the graphics cards become the limiting factor.

At 1080p with 8x MSAA, the 512MB frame buffer of the Radeon HD 4850 doesn’t seem to be a problem in DiRT 2. Minimum frame rates remained above 55 FPS with the quad-core CPU and dropped to 49 FPS with the overclocked triple-core.

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