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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.

  • fatkid35
    first!
    Reply
  • ColMirage
    fatkid35first!Facepalm...

    Glad to see the last part of the series. Very useful!
    Reply
  • liquidsnake718
    I love how on the first page picture of all the games on this article show the games that truly take a toll on GPU's and CPU's. You are however missing Metro 2033 and Dirt 2 in DX11 which obliterates some GPUs in DX11!
    Reply
  • IzzyCraft
    A metro 2033 graph wouldn't be interesting it would start at 0 and end at 5 for most set ups :D
    Reply
  • The choice of Corsair Dominator for the RAM is surprising, given that there are equally fast and stable choices at a much lower price point. OCZ, G Skill, Crucial, etc. I still love their power supplies though.
    Reply
  • duk3
    ColMirageGlad to see the last part of the series. Very useful!
    They mentioned a part 4 in the article, with overclocking AMD processors.
    Reply
  • kaintfm
    The choice of Corsair Dominator for the RAM is surprising, given that there are equally fast and stable choices at a much lower price point. OCZ, G Skill, Crucial, etc. I still love their power supplies though.
    Reply
  • agnickolov
    And where is the Core i3 530? This is the real gaming gem of a CPU, but I hardly see it in any reviews @ Tom's...
    Reply
  • manitoublack
    Bought 2 GTX295's on release and run them on my i7-920, in SLi at 640MHz. Still over a year on and there still almost top dog.

    Great review Toms, and makes it easier to sleep at night knowing that 14months on little can touch what I've got regardless of the $1600AUD buyin.
    Reply
  • FUtomNOreg
    Very enlightening though, given my current rig's specs, thoroughly depressing. Curse you for breaking my delusion that my PC was adequate! I feel an overwhelming urge to upgrade coming on.....
    Reply