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VGA performance: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (DX9)

Set up your monitor first

Before playing games, setting up your monitor's contrast & brightness levels is a very important thing to do. I realized recently that a lot of you guys have set up your monitor improperly. How do we know this? Because we receive a couple of emails every now and then telling us that a reader can't distinguish between the benchmark charts (colors) in our reviews. We realized, if that happens, your monitor is not properly set up.


This simple test pattern is evenly spaced from 0 to 255 brightness levels, with no profile embedded. If your monitor is correctly set up, you should be able to distinguish each step, and each step should be visually distinct from its neighbors by the same amount. Also, the dark-end step differences should be about the same as the light-end step differences. Finally, the first step should be completely black.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Modern Warfare 2 is set five years on from COD4 and brings a new villain into town: Vladimir Makarov. All the trouble start when Makarov frames the US for a terrorist attack on a Russian airport (yes, the infamous airport level). The rest of the story follows the same intertwined British and US mission format as before, and the missions are all incredible set-pieces that involve storming oil rigs, climbing icy cliffs and, of course, an adrenaline packed snowmobile chase.  Visually the 3D engine seems to be the same as the COD4 one, it's tweaked and nearly abused to push out the very best of its capability. The result is a very decent looking game really, smoke, fog, sun, vegetation detailed texturing of objects, buildings and characters. 

Our image quality settings selected are the most complex you can set in-game. 4x AA, maxed out anisotropic filtering, the best textures, everything is enabled to its maximum capability. Any decent graphics card can run the game, it's that simple.

Image Quality setting:

  • Level Contingency
  • 4x Anti-Aliasing
  • 16x Anisotropic Filtering
  • All settings maxed out

In light blue the reference Radeon HD 5970, I felt it is important to continuously compare to that card. In Red the ASUS ARES in it's default configuration. And then in orange the ARES overclocked close to 1 GHz on both GPUs and 5300 MHz on the graphics memory (2x2GB).

Above you can see a performance chart that was recently introduced in all our graphics card reviews. Again we added both the baseline and overclocked results. Recent drivers from NVIDIA gave them an enormous performance boost on Modern Warfare 2. Let's move to a far more GPU stringent title, Battlefield Bad Company 2 shall we ?

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