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Part 4: 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 gameplay. There certainly may 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 High quality and also enable 4x AA to smooth out the jaggies.

Even with 4x AA enabled and Ultra High details, the overclocked Radeon HD 5750 manages playable frame rates in Far Cry 2 at this low resolution. The dual-core Phenom II is sufficient, while little benefit is seen with a single GPU when stepping beyond the Athlon II X4.

The two dual-GPU cards do not reach their true potential on the Socket AM3 platform but eventually pull to the top of the scale when paired with enough processor power. The Socket AM3 platform joins the LGA 775 platform from Part 3, holding a slight advantage over both Core i5 and Core i7 when Far Cry 2 is seemingly GPU-limited.

As we bump up to our initial 16:10 resolution, we again see the lowest-priced GPU and CPU combo provide an acceptable level of performance. The GeForce GTX 260 reaches 60 FPS on average, slightly surpassing the Radeon HD 4890.

Given enough CPU muscle, the more powerful graphics cards rank as expected. While we know Far Cry 2 can load more than two CPU cores, the overclocked Phenom II X2 550 balances out fairly well with even our top tested single-GPU graphics card.

The shift towards a GPU limitation is more evident at 1920x1200, and the dual-GPU cards see only insignificant gains stepping above the 3.7 GHz Phenom II X4 955 BE. 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 better 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 Radeon HD 5970 tops the chart, regardless of CPU pairing, while the GeForce GTX 295 pulls to within 3 FPS when paired with the 3.86 GHz Phenom II X6 1055T.

  • wildeast
    "such as NVidia’s GeForce GTX 400-series and revamp the benchmark suite with some new DirectX 11 titles."
    i'll be waiting for that, and maybe some i5 cpu to see what fit sli best
    Reply
  • jsowoc
    "We set forth to measure the perfect balance in seven different games and four resolutions in this third of many parts." (?)

    I think you copied this paragraph from part 3 and forgot to change it to 4... ;-)
    Reply
  • theshonen8899
    With the amount of love you guys have for the Athlon x3 I was really hoping to see it on here :\
    I guess I can kind of predict where it'd fall though.
    Reply
  • Darkerson
    I love the in-depth articles like these. Keep 'em coming!
    Reply
  • L0tus
    Brilliant piece.

    I wish I had read this before building my system as I can see that I clearly spent too much on my CPU instead of GPU (i5-750 + HD5770) . Would have done much better with (X2 550 BE + HD5850) !

    ...ain't hind sight a b***h!

    Also interesting to see how GPUs really start to distinguish themselves at higher resolutions. Again, brilliant work.
    Reply
  • TheStealthyOne
    I built a computer for my brother using a Phenom ii 550 paired with a 5770, and it screams! Fantastic gaming chip! It just goes to show you can achieve fantastic performance by planning and balance.
    Reply
  • garlik_bread
    Personally, i'd be interested to see results from a card with less han 1GB RAM on the GPU.

    On the lower end of the spectrum, with the lower resolutions, is the 1GB really necessary?

    Basically, i have a 512MB Asus 5770 and want to validate my purchase :D
    Reply
  • plasmastorm
    Still running a Maximus formula 775 board with a Q6600, 8gb ram and a Radeon 5850 but this is certainly handy for future reference.
    Probably skipping the i5/i7 generation as I can still play anything at max settings on my 22" monitor while running a 2nd for a film tho :)
    Reply
  • Tamz_msc
    Please test some newer games, which is essential for an article like this.
    Reply
  • descendency
    plasmastormStill running a Maximus formula 775 board with a Q6600, 8gb ram and a Radeon 5850 but this is certainly handy for future reference.Probably skipping the i5/i7 generation as I can still play anything at max settings on my 22" monitor while running a 2nd for a film tho
    i5/i7 isn't a generation. it's like 5 or so.

    It's the same thing as C2D and C2Q
    Reply