Instantaneous Performance and Image Quality
All rumors and original expectations have proven to be true. The latest Crysis 2 video game is extra hard on the hardware and needs a really powerful system to run smoothly. Now let’s check how well the game scales up in terms of graphics settings and how different quality profiles may affect the frame rate and image quality. We will take a few screenshots using two popular cards: an AMD Radeon HD 6950 and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti. While both of them are quite affordable, they deliver high performance in most of today’s games and are, in fact, the most desirable purchase these days.
Besides the traditional picture quality comparison and investigation of preset profile effects, we are also going to check how gaming performance depends on the CPU clock frequency as we compare similar test runs on systems built around Intel Core i7-920 and Core i7-975 Extreme Edition processors.
The test sequence includes an indoor and outdoor scene, a run through decimated warehouse, as well as a short walk in the park and the harbor. It should cover most situations the gamer may find himself in during the actual gameplay. Just like before, we measure the frame rate using Fraps version 3.4.2. We also use this utility to capture screenshots for image quality comparisons.
Since the majority of users are going to experience “out of the box” gaming, we decided to check only the preset profiles. Anyone interested in fine-tuning the game will have to use third-party utilities or an in-game console.
Since Crysis 2 currently lacks DirectX 11 support, the first preset profile we are going to look at will be the “Hardcore” one. It uses a lot of DircetX 10 shaders as well as advanced ray tracing model and soft shadows. As you can see from the graph, overclocking your processor makes little sense as overall performance is limited by your performance-mainstream graphics card and not the CPU.
The next profile available to you is the “Advanced” one. “Advanced” usually means that end-users with experience have the option to fine tune in-game graphics, but not this time. This mode uses a slightly simplified ray tracing model, less complicated shaders and a lot less post-processing blur. Sometimes it makes the picture look even better and sharper compared to the “Hardcore” profile. Unfortunately, the picture also loses full-scene antialiasing, which is probably is the biggest loss at this point. As a bonus, the second profile offers an almost 50% boost in performance, and now both GeForce GTX 560 Ti and Radeon HD 6950 can provide you with a 60+ fps gaming experience.
Once again we must conclude that CPU power has almost no effect on the way Crysis 2 runs. You can stay at default frequencies or settle for a more affordable processor, since in Crysis 2 you are not going to get the expected return on your LGA investment.
The last profile is called “Gamer” and it offers even lower picture quality than the previous two. There are no shadows, water looks more like a plastic bag rather than fluid substance, there are less details and objects in the scenery, and vegetation begins to look like Lego pieces rather than actual nature. Since there are so few effects, the lack of FSAA becomes even more painful. Don’t be too upset though, as the overall picture is more than tolerable and you are still going to play Crysis 2 and not some Wolfenstein 3D remake.
Faster CPU is still unable to make any significant impact. You really don’t need a lot of computing power for this game. Instead, try to invest more into your graphics card. If that fails, “Gamer” mode brings another 40-45% framerate increase.