Gaming Graphics Charts For 2009: Updated!

Seven Games for Testing Graphics

On the next two pages, you’ll find detailed descriptions of individual benchmarks and the test configurations for various graphics chips, vendors, and information about compatibility with SLI or CrossFire set-ups.

Fallout 3

This game presents a mix of role-playing and FPS action; an improved version of the Oblivion graphics engine enables its visuals. Fallout 3 uses Shader Model 3.0 to support high dynamic range (HDR) rendering. If you want to activate texture blending and anti-aliasing simultaneously, you need a state-of-the art graphics card because older GeForce 7-series cards can only do one or the other at any given time. The graphics engine renders the game environment quite fluidly, and detailed interior scenes that would have once hammered mainstream cards are no longer a stretch for modern graphics chipsets.

Those who want to stress their graphics cards to the max can install improved texture packages from modder sites, but these also boost graphics quality immensely. To ensure the best possible compatibility, though, we used the standard version of Fallout 3 for all of our chart testing. The 3D engine supports both SLI and CrossFire quite well. For our High-End tests, we set graphics quality to Very High, which also guarantees maximum visual quality. The highest test setting for anti-aliasing is 8x. We used a sequence at the Tenpenny Tower for our FRAPS test scene; this displays the game world with plenty of visibility and lots of objects/ruins in the landscape.

Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2 is a 3D shooter in the grand tradition of Crysis. Its Dunia 3D engine displays very nice DirectX 10 effects, particularly when rendering fire, shadows, water, background vegetation, and streaming sunlight through dust, fog, and so forth. We set graphics settings at Very High for the High-End tests, because maxing out at Ultra bogs even the best of graphics cards down too much, which is why we elected not to use that setting.

We ran the built-in benchmark sequence Ranch Small for testing, which shows people, a sweeping plain, burning grass, and various huts. SLI works well, but CrossFire runs even better, which makes more graphics RAM pretty important for higher anti-aliasing at 1920x1200. Our highest test setting for AA was 8x.

F.E.A.R. 2

This game is a horror-themed 3D shooter (FPS). Once Warner took over this label, the game was polished up with professional Hollywood shock effects of all kinds. The interiors and short sequences run very smoothly, and produce very high frame rates. SLI and CrossFire both work superbly; the performance boost from adding a second card is very notable. Overall graphics quality is great, and dream or vision scenes benefit from beautiful shader effects. We used the Maximum setting for our High-End tests, where the elevator scene in the Mission Ruin serves as the basis for FRAPS measurements.

Left 4 Dead

In its 3D shooter game world, protagonists bite, claw, and blast their way through hordes of zombies. The game runs on an enhanced version of the Source Engine from Half Life 2. Owing to very good support for multi-core processors and a modest appetite for 3D effects, gamers are virtually guaranteed completely fluid frame rates.

For High-End tests, graphics quality was set to Very High, guaranteeing the best possible quality. The highest test setting for anti-aliasing was 8x. SLI and CrossFire are both well-supported here. Whereas CrossFire delivered higher frame rates in Half Life 2, though, it falls off slightly for this game. We used a recorded timedemo to measure our frame rates, in which the survivors conduct a running street battle with countless zombies.

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  • avatar_raq
    Nice charts. But I disagree on some games choices..Two unreal engine gamess?!! And -admittedly- one of them has a FPS cap !!..No demanding games as GTA IV or crysis?!! Should have included one of them at least.
  • Other Comments
  • scook9
    bout dam time. but thanks, I had been waiting for this. Makes me feel better about the pair of GTX 275's about to go into my system.
  • dmv915
    Sweet new charts
  • Ogdin
    Good stuff as usual,nice to the the more in depth high resolution tests.
  • dmv915
    I would like to see an oc'd gtx 260 on the charts sometime soon. Most of the oc'd cards have fallen in price below stock 4870 1 gig. I'd like to see how it compares.
  • doomtomb
    Finally, they did it!
  • doomtomb
    But wait, no Crysis or Warhead? Why?
  • mike989
    I think this review is broken, i cannot get past "here's what we tested" there is no more links.
  • xizel
    same here... about what mike989 said
  • pulasky
    As usual very very very fishy tests.
  • baracubra
    FINALLY!!!! I've been waiting for this for sooo long, Its been long overdue, but thx Tino and the crue, once again you re-grabed my attention and proved its worth visiting Toms!!!! :D
  • baracubra
    doomtombBut wait, no Crysis or Warhead? Why?


    Yeah, I'd would be nice if these were added, as Crysis is still one of the most taxing games...
  • JeanLuc
    I'm surprised the ATI cards fell behind in HAWX which is a game sponsored by AMD. And no Warhead or Crysis? I know Crysis is getting a old now but barring STALKER CLear Sky there isn't another game out there that pushes current hardware as hard as Crysis does. In fact my next video card is based on how well it can handle Crysis at 1920x1200 so I'm a bit disappointed to not see it's inclusion but I guess we have to move on at some point.

    Overall good work, these charts are dead handy for quickly referencing a video cards potential.
  • baracubra
    These charts are great, but in the future if you guys have time, are SLI and Crossfire solutions going to be included in these results?
  • cangelini
    mike989I think this review is broken, i cannot get past "here's what we tested" there is no more links.


    Mike,

    That's the end of the piece--it's only a four-pager to introduce the new charts. I put up a second story for today to make up for this one being so brief.
  • cangelini
    gellertThese charts are great, but in the future if you guys have time, are SLI and Crossfire solutions going to be included in these results?


    Gell,

    I do believe SLI and CrossFire will be added in a separate update.
  • avatar_raq
    Nice charts. But I disagree on some games choices..Two unreal engine gamess?!! And -admittedly- one of them has a FPS cap !!..No demanding games as GTA IV or crysis?!! Should have included one of them at least.
  • bige420
    It would be helpful for say, CF results for 4890's, 4770's and whatnot. NEED CPU CHARTS!!!
  • cangelini
    avatar_raqNice charts. But I disagree on some games choices..Two unreal engine gamess?!! And -admittedly- one of them has a FPS cap !!..No demanding games as GTA IV or crysis?!! Should have included one of them at least.


    Avatar--I'll continue including GTA 4 in my standalone reviews for folks who still want to see numbers with this one.
  • rags_20
    Finally. What took you guys so long?
  • rags_20
    And please, also post a Vantage Performance preset score! We want benchies that fully use DX10.