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Part 3: Building A Balanced Gaming PC

Benchmark Results: Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2 contains a built-in benchmarking tool that enables CPU-intensive physics effects, does a decent job of delivering consistent results, and represents actual game-play. There certainly may still be some more graphically-demanding areas of the map, but 40 FPS in the small ranch demo represents a fair target for playability. Here, we crank details to Ultra quality and also enable 4x AA to smooth out the jaggies.

Even with 4x AA enabled and Ultra details, the overclocked Radeon HD 5750 manages playable framerates in Far Cry 2. While the Pentium E6300 is sufficient, it’s clearly the weak link in many of the tested configurations.

The two dual-GPU cards eventually dominate at the top of the scale, but only reach their true potential when paired with the Core i5 and Core i7 processors. While these processors allow the highest framerates, you may notice they fall behind the Q9550 when paired with the single-GPU cards. Keep an eye on this trend through each resolution below.

As we bump up to our initial 16:10 resolution, we again see the budget GPU + CPU combo provide an acceptable level of performance. The GeForce GTX 260 and Radeon HD 4890 duke it out near 60 FPS, providing extra performance for more discerning gamers.

Given enough CPU, the more powerful graphics cards rank as expected. While we know Far Cry 2 can load more than two CPU cores, the 4.4 GHz Core 2 Duo balances out well with the even the top single-GPU graphics card.

The shift towards a GPU limitation is more evident at 1920x1200 and the dual-GPU cards no longer are capable of more performance than the 3.7 GHz Core 2 Quad Q9550 delivers. Smooth gameplay with the overclocked Radeon HD 5750 now comes into question, and the extra 10-12 frames per second make the GeForce GTX 260 or Radeon HD 4890 a safer graphics option.

Pushing over 4 million pixels at 2560x1600 requires the factory overclocked GeForce GTX 285 paired with any one of the processors as a minimum recommendation.

The dual-GPU cards deserve at least the Core 2 Duo E8400 for balance, but join the trend of slightly less performance when paired with the Core i5 and Core i7 processors. The graphics cards and PCIe bus were the same frequencies for each processor, so it’s a bit surprising the older LGA 775 platform was able to tap more raw graphics potential in what would seem sheer GPU-limited situations.