Skip to main content

Part 3: Building A Balanced Gaming PC

Benchmark Results: Need For Speed Shift

Need For Speed: Shift

The stock platforms in Parts 1 & 2 pretty much breezed through Fallout 3 and Race Driver GRID, so we looked into replacing these two with potentially more demanding titles. We are still looking into a new RPG, but for Parts 3 & 4, we’ll use Need for Speed Shift for the racing genre.

In order to benchmark Shift, we use FRAPS to benchmark a 60 second lap around the Dakota GP track. We utilize the demanding cockpit view and start in the back of the pack, which should provide close to a worst-case scenario for performance. As with GRID, frame rates below 40 FPS are noticeable, but we’ll shoot for an average of 40 FPS as our target. Also, care was again taken to maintain race-to-race consistency, and an average of three such races recorded to further improve fairness and accuracy.

We dropped 1280x1024 for this title, as the game does not have built-in full-screen support for 4:3 or 5:4 aspect ratios while running a 16:10 native desktop resolution. At three races times five processors times seven video cards, it was already quite a chore to benchmark the three wide-screen resolutions, never mind adding a fourth resolution and the tedious task of working around the game’s full-screen limitations.

The Radeon HD 5750 manages to average over 60 FPS regardless of processor, even with 4x AA and 16x AF enabled.

Once we step up graphics muscle, CPU limitations become more evident. The 4.4 GHz Core 2 Duo E8400 edges out the 3.7GHz Core 2 Quad, but it’s the new Core i5 and i7 architectures left standing at the top.

Slightly lower performance for each card having just one GPU, but otherwise, here we see same basic picture observed at 1680x1050.

At 2560x1600, gameplay on the Radeon HD 5750 is painful, at times making it difficult to hold a line and navigate through tight traffic. Had we overclocked our GeForce GTX 260 to its maximum (rather than rely on BFG’s factory overclock), performance may have stayed above the target. We’ll call this borderline. Although some chugging was present down the opening straight-away, the overall experience was still acceptable.

The Radeon HD 4890 and GeForce GTX 285 both deliver solid performance with just a few brief drops below 40 FPS. While the GeForce GTX 295 and Radeon HD 5870 duke it out (depending on the processor), the stock HD Radeon 5970 surges ahead and manages to top the 100 FPS mark.