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Image Quality Tests

Although the turn-based strategy genre has never been very hard on graphics hardware, there have been certain exceptions recently. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and Civilization V turned out to be very heavy for affordable graphics cards. Might & Magic Heroes IV is yet another proof that strategies can be visually advanced.

The game offers some setup flexibility to help you enjoy a comfortable playing experience on your particular system. What about CPUs? When beta-testing the game, the developers warned us that a really fast CPU would be necessary for smooth gameplay. Let’s check this out.

 

As you can see, the average frame rate varies depending on what's going on in the game. Even fast cards like Radeon HD 6950 or GeForce GTX 560 Ti cannot keep it above 60 fps when there are full armies on both sides of the battlefield. Fortunately, the actions of the units look smooth enough even at 35-40 fps and the game doesn't look jerky. This is a turn-based strategy rather than a 3D shooter, after all, so any speed above 30 fps is acceptable.

The game’s engine cannot run on multiple CPU cores in parallel, so the number of CPU cores has no effect on performance. It is the CPU clock rate that’s the more important factor even at the highest graphics quality settings, which may be an unpleasant surprise for notebook users.

 

Switching to the average graphics settings boosts the frame rate by 30-35%. Unfortunately, the extra speed comes at the expense of quality. The quality of shadows, in particular, differs greatly from the High profile. Textures become blurred, too. The difference between the two modes is especially conspicuous when you zoom in and cast magical spells with all of their special effects. So, such settings can make a good alternative for owners of rather slow graphics cards, but you shouldn’t switch to it if your card is fast. The game's visuals are beautiful and should be enjoyed at the High settings.

Having a faster CPU is even more beneficial here. The extra 700 MHz of clock rate adds a substantial 10% to the frame rate at the Medium settings. If you feel your system lacks just a few frames per second, you may want to overclock your CPU and only then think about upgrading your graphics card.

 

We don’t think there will be many users who will dare pass Might & Magic Heroes VI at the Low settings. The game looks downright shabby with most of its special effects and image enhancements turned off. The square blurry shadows and faded textures cannot be made up for by the 10-12% increase in frame rate from switching to the Low settings.

The faster CPU ensures a 20% performance boost to the game at the Low settings.

 
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