What does it mean to build a truly-balanced PC? How great would it be to piece together a machine bottlenecked by neither CPU or GPU? We set forth to measure the perfect balance in seven different games and four resolutions in this third of many parts.
In Fallout 3, we use FRAPS to benchmark a 60 second run through our “Capital Wasteland” saved game. For smoother combat sequences, we’ll again keep the target at 40 FPS in this action RPG. There was no problem cranking details to maximum, while also enabling 4x AA and 15x AF to further enhance the gaming experience.
There’s a clear GPU limitation at a very playable 70 FPS for the Radeon HD 5750, but all the other graphics cards look fairly CPU-limited. The Core i7 and i5 processors lead the way, followed by the E8400 and Q9550. The Pentium E6300 brings up the rear, but doesn’t fair all too badly at 80+ FPS.
A little more GPU limitation is evident at 1680x1050. Averaging nearly 60 FPS, the cheapest configuration is still very playable, though.
Not a lot changes at 1920x1200, although the dual-GPU cards now sit alone at the top of the scale when paired with the Core i5 or i7 processors. Once again, the Pentium E6300 + Radeon HD 5750 deliver the most affordable solid gaming experience of our tested platforms.
All of the single-GPU cards are limiting performance and fall far shy of their dual-GPU siblings. Minimum framerates below 30 FPS and average framerates below 40 mean we have exceeded the capabilities of the Radeon HD 5750. The GeForce GTX 260 and Radeon HD 4890 both remain well above our performance target.
- Balanced Platform Series Introduction
- Graphics Cards
- Memory, Hard Drive, Power Supply, Coolers
- Pricing, Methodology, And A Sample Chart
- Overclocking, Test System Configuration, And Benchmarks
- Benchmark Results: Crysis
- Benchmark Results: Far Cry 2
- Benchmark Results: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky
- Benchmark Results: Grand Theft Auto IV
- Benchmark Results: Fallout 3
- Benchmark Results: Need For Speed Shift
- Benchmark Results: World In Conflict
- Power Consumption