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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.