Throw your memory back to the year 2004 and the release of the innovative Far Cry on the PC. Developer Crytek managed to fashion one of the most convincing and striking locales in all of gaming, and satisfied gamers with the freedom to pass through the landscape and tackle enemies in almost any way they saw fit. You surely remember Jack Carver and that things were about to get seriously messed up for you? Well, tough luck. You are no longer at that deserted tropical island but hop into a jeep and arrive at the sandy savannah surroundings of Africa. And that's a change... as much as you'll no longer run into any mutants, aliens, or any superpowers or psychic powers. Also - you are no longer Jack Carver, you assume the role of one of nine different mercenaries who are embedded in the midst of a brutal civil war which rages in an imaginary African nation.
Everything that goes down is involved in a dirty little bush war in central Africa and you'll have to use a rusty AK-47 and whatever bits of scavenged land mine you can duct-tape together. Two factions struggle for supremacy: the United Front for Liberation and Labour and the Alliance for Popular Resistance, and both are known for blood and control.
I like Far Cry 2 very much. Not so much for the gameplay anymore, yet for the rendered environment and how the game can react to it. We are in high-quality DX10 mode with 4x AA (anti-aliasing) and 16x AF (anisotropic filtering).
We see good CPU performance scaling up-to 1280x1024, yet once we pass that resolution the GPU starts to dominate again. We do see a bump in performance when overclocked, at the lower end of the monitor resolution spectrum.
Battlefield Bad Company 2
The Battlefield series has been running for quite a while. The last big entry in the series, Bad Company, was a console exclusive, much to the disappointment of PC gamers everywhere. DICE broke the exclusivity with the sequel, thankfully, and now PC owners are treated to the best Battlefield since Battlefield 2.
The plot follows the four soldiers of Bad Company as they track down a "new" super weapon in development by Russian forces. You might not immediately get that this game is about Bad Company, as the intro mission starts off with a World War II raid, but it all links together in the end.
A new title in the benchmark test suite, it's Battlefield Bad Company 2. Next to being a great game for gameplay, it's also an awesome title to test both graphics cards and processors with. The game has native support for DirectX 11 and on the processor testing side of things, parallelized processing supporting two to eight parallel threads, which is great if you have a quad core processor.
There is currently a title in the market that utilizes multi-CPU cores and is heavily multi-threaded. Battlefield Bad Company 2 will happily use four or more cores. The result is that very quickly the CPU does not matter anymore as it's maximizing the incredible amount of processor power. As a result the GPU really quickly becomes a bottleneck, even the Radeon HD 5870 is flat out running at 100% whilst the processor has plenty of force left.
That would result in very similar performance throughout a large scope of processors.
We opt to test in DX11 / 8xAA for this title as we want to look at the most modern performance and image quality. E.g. how you actually play the game at home. DX11 wise we get as extras softened dynamic shadows and shader based performance improvements. A great game to play and a great game image quality wise. We raise the bar, image quality settings wise:
DirectX 11 enabled
8x Multi-sample Anti aliasing
16x Anisotropic filtering
All image quality settings enabled at maximum
3DMark Vantage (DirectX 10)
3DMark Vantage focuses on the two areas most critical to gaming performance: the CPU and the GPU. With the emergence of multi-package and multi-core configurations on both the CPU and GPU side, the performance scale of these areas has widened, and the visual and game-play effects made possible by these configurations are accordingly wide-ranging. This makes covering the entire spectrum of 3D gaming a difficult task. 3DMark Vantage solves this problem in three ways:
1. Isolate GPU and CPU performance benchmarking into separate tests, 2. Cover several visual and game-play effects and techniques in four different tests, and 3. Introduce visual quality presets to scale the graphics test load up through the highest-end hardware.
To this end, 3DMark Vantage has two GPU tests, each with a different emphasis on various visual techniques, and two CPU tests, which cover the two most common CPU-side tasks: Physics Simulation and AI. It also has four visual quality presets (Entry, Performance, High, and Extreme) available in the Advanced and Professional versions, which increase the graphics load successively for even more visual quality. Each preset will produce a separate, official 3DMark score, tagged with the preset in question.
Above, you can see 3DMark Vantage, this time the overall P score. The platform scores roughly 20.000 points and overclocked we close in to the 980X running in its baseline configuration at just over 21k points. Very decent results, the oldest reference 980X result at the time was using an older Catalyst driver, hence the ODM motherboards benefiting from a newer driver and thus a little more performance.
ASUS TUF Sabertooth X79 review ASUS initially had a mild success with the Sabertooth series, they carefully launched just in the USA as a tryout, yet once the concept picked up, they noticed demand worldwide. Head on over to the next page where we'll discuss the X79 chipset, the respective ASUS models. Then we'll throw a decent photo-shoot and a benchmark suite at the products and get an indication what performance is like with the Intel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E) and X79 Platform.
ASUS TUF Sabertooth X58 review We test and review the ASUS TUF Sabertooth X58 motherboard. This military class design motherboard comes with some nice extra features, offers great performance and overclocks quite well also. All that for a really interesting price.