Results: Far Cry 3 And Grid 2
Far Cry 3
Far Cry 3, the oldest game we're testing, turns out to be the most graphically-demanding title these machines need to face. As a bonus, it’s also well-threaded, forcing entry-level processors to their knees. In this title, I almost certainly would have been punished for using a dual-core Pentium over the Athlon X4.
A CPU bottleneck is already apparent using the High detail preset without anti-aliasing. While the older PC delivers higher frame rates, today's challenger remains smooth though 1920x1080.
My cheaper Q2 configuration does require lower settings to survive 4800x900 though, and it struggles even after overclocking in the taxing areas right outside Amanaki Outpost. The game proved playable during 30 minutes of stability testing, with frame rates generally hovering between 30 and 40 FPS, dropping into the 20s during a cut-scene.
The Ultra-quality preset with 4x MSAA proves too much for my AMD-based PC beyond the lowest tested resolution. Even then, the game felt less smooth than these frame rates indicate.
With that said, disabling MSAA altogether made Far Cry 3 playable on the overclocked Athlon at 1920x1080, averaging 40 FPS through our test sequence. This naturally affects image quality quite a bit, particularly since the setting also removes ATC (alpha to coverage) effects as well.
These settings are just better-suited to the $750 PC, which breezed through 1920x1080 trouble-free. Overclocked, it only required a drop to 2x MSAA for playable frame rates at 4800x900.
We start out system-bound in Grid 2, and our cheap PC only falters once we reach Ultra quality at 4800x900. In reality, at this budget, 1920x1080 is a far more realistic target resolution anyway.