Frankly speaking, we hadn’t expected today's superfast graphics cards to be so slow in a game whose basic code was written back in 2004. On the other hand, we can't say that the premium-class products from AMD and Nvidia do not cope with their job. The dual-chip Radeon HD 6990, although at first slower than the GeForce GTX 580, improves its standing and goes ahead at the higher resolutions. If you’ve got a GeForce GTX 590, you’ll have to wait for a new driver and/or SLI profile. The game didn’t produce any visual artifacts while running on that card, but you can see that it only makes use of one out of the two GPUs.
So, these graphics cards deliver high performance, especially if you don't use high resolutions.
It is Nvidia’s Fermi architecture that dominates this market sector. The GeForce GTX 570 and GTX 560 Ti beat their opponents at the two lower resolutions. As for 2560x1600, you will need to overclock your GeForce GTX 570 or 560 series card to get a playable frame rate.
AMD’s products are somewhat slower, yet make the game playable, too. The Radeon HD 6950 can be overclocked to deliver over 60 fps at the highest resolution, for example. The rest of the cards are worse. The Radeon HD 6870 falls behind the GeForce GTX 560 Ti in average frame rate by at least 12%. The Radeon HD 6850 shouldn't be recommended for playing this game at the maximum settings because it only delivers 50 fps in the Full-HD mode.
If you cannot afford expensive hardware, the choice of a graphics card for playing Duke Nukem Forever is obvious. Depending on your brand loyalty, you can choose either the AMD Radeon HD 5770 or the Nvidia GeForce GTX 550 Ti. Both can deliver 60 fps and more at the lowest of the tested resolutions. With some lowering of the graphics quality settings, these cards can also ensure a playable frame rate at 1920x1080. Oddly enough, the outdated engine of the game turns out to have very high system requirements.
If you want to run Duke Nukem Forever on a low-end graphics card, you will have to give up FSAA or FXAA as well as certain special effects. Even AMD’s latest product Radeon HD 6670 cannot cope with the game at the highest graphics quality settings.