Instantaneous Performance and Image Quality
Undertaken investigation suggests that Battlefield: Bad Company 2 has somewhat mixed system requirements. In the Premium and Performance-Mainstream categories the obvious choice is AMD based products, while Mainstream and Entry-level solutions should be picked from the Nvidia camp.
Having determined the level of performance that can be achieved by modern graphics cards, we want to know how the game behaves at different graphics quality settings and whether the CPU frequency affects the frame rate. For this test we used two typical representatives of the AMD and Nvidia camps: Radeon HD 5850 and GeForce GTX 285. Both cards were tested with Core i7-975 Extreme Edition and Core i7-920 processors. The display resolution was set at 1680x1050 to avoid reaching the maximum our graphics card are capable of.
For each of the four profiles with settings we recorded the instantaneous frame rate for 60 seconds with the Fraps 3.1.2 utility. The test included various scenes, both in and outdoors, which involve shooting and blowing up buildings.
Additionally, we captured a few screenshots that help visually evaluate the difference in image quality between the mentioned profiles.
And here are the results of this test:
A slower CPU does have an effect on Battlefield: Bad Company 2 gaming experience. We can see a difference between the two runs on cards from AMD and Nvidia when FSAA is turned on. The graphs are apart as Radeon HD 5850 manages to lose a bit more of the performance edge. Perhaps the extensive amount of physics calculations needed to accurately destroy an object are affecting the performance here as we don't see the same performance drop with GeForce GTX 285 graphics card, which can offload some of the workload from CPU to its GPU. Having said that, Radeon HD 5850’s framerate is never lower than 30fps despite the full-screen antialiasing.
When 4x FSAA is turned off, the frame rates rise by 10fps on average. The ATI Radeon HD 5850 is obviously the fastest, but the CPU is still having a major effect on the performance level. Despite a graphics engine that is several years old, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is a game with high system requirements, even though initially this multiplatform project was aimed at PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 hardware. As for the quality of the visuals, the FSAA does play a significant role in BF: BC2. The video game is full of buildings and jagged edges are easy to spot.
When we lower setting to Medium level the game doesn’t look ugly at all. The only feature you might really miss is the HBAO, which makes the overall picture look just a bit more realistic. The frame rates grow higher, and now even the most demanding player can be satisfied with the average number recorded being close to 100 fps. Once again we can see that Radeon equipped system tends to put more stress on the CPU, unlike its GeForce GTX 285 counter part, which manages to completely ignore CPU model upgrade.
At the Low graphics engine settings the GeForce GTX 285 and Radeon HD 5850 are as high as 110 fps and more, but there is absolutely no point in using such settings. As you can see from the screenshots the game is not so eye-catching and begs for more details and textures. We suggest using this level of quality settings only if you are experiencing intolerably low framerates on your system.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 does like its settings maxed out; Full-screen antialiasing makes the whole picture look crisper, while Horizon-Based Ambient Occlusion adds a nice finishing touch. People who are not currently looking for any major upgrades would be pleased, as the game does not lose its visual quality much even if you disable or lower some of its image quality settings. Please keep in mind that if you are planning on buying a new graphics card, you will have to consider upgrading you CPU as well as there is a strong correlation between fps and CPU when you are playing the latest Battlefield title.