Results: Far Cry 3
Based on the Dunia Engine 2, Far Cry 3 is far more demanding than Borderlands 2. Even at 1920x1080, it pushes the minimum frame rates on AMD’s Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 680 under 40. The averages aren’t much higher, either. Only the GeForce GTX 690 cuts through this combination of resolution and quality settings with great numbers. GeForce GTX Titan doesn’t do significantly better than the 680.
The extent of the 690’s victory (and Titan’s underwhelming advantage, given its price) is even better-illustrated by charting frame rate over time. GeForce GTX 680 and Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition trade blows, though the 680 tends to be a bit quicker.
Here’s where latency starts to come into play. Whereas AMD claims to have improved the frame time latency of its driver in Borderlands 2, Skyrim, and Guild Wars 2, we haven’t seen any indication that Far Cry 3 has received similar treatment. It’s somewhat disturbing to see such a low 75th percentile number, an average that’s actually higher, and a 95th percentile result that shoots up to 20+ ms. Clearly, when latencies get bad on the 7970 GHz Edition, they get really bad.
Far Cry 3 continues punishing our high-end graphics cards, and the GeForce GTX 690 would at least appear to be the only board most folks would be comfortable gaming on at the Ultra preset. Titan’s performance is marginal, while the GeForce GTX 680 and Radeon HD 7970 GHz both average less than 30 FPS.
The separation (or lack of) between cards looks similar at 2560x1600 as it did at 1920x1080, only down about 20 FPS.
All cards run into higher consecutive frame latency as their performance drops. The Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition’s average latency doesn’t go up by much. But we can see that the 95th percentile number is more than 10 ms higher than it was at 1920x1080.
Now, here is one example of where GeForce GTX 690’s performance doesn’t appear to be accurately represented due to the point in the pipeline where Fraps takes its measurement. Average frame rates look good. The frame rate over time seems pretty normal. And the consecutive frame latency number appears remarkably low. However, playing through the game—a critical component of the evaluation, in our minds—uncovers a lot of stuttering. We’re not sure if the 2 GB of GDDR5 available to each GPU isn’t enough, or if Nvidia’s metering technology (which it hasn’t spent much time talking about yet, but is already public domain) isn’t handling Far Cry 3 well. Whatever the case, we assure you that this game isn’t fun to play on a 690 at 2560x1600 and up.
No single-card solution is able to give us good average frame rates at 5760x1200. Far Cry 3 is just begging for a little multi-GPU testing.
Uniformly sub-30 FPS results keep us from moving around quickly in this first-person shooter. That’s never conducive to a great experience, even if Far Cry 3 looks amazingly lush across three screens.
Average frame rates are more of an issue than consecutive frame latencies at 5760x1200, though AMD’s card continues running into severe worst-case latencies. Some evidence of what we ran into at 2560x1600 is quantifiable on the GeForce GTX 690, too.