MSI Z87I motherboard review

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Performance Dedicated GPU: Far Cry 2 | Crysis 2 | 3DMark Vantage

Performance Dedicated Graphics card: Far Cry 2

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.


The legend is missing in the chart, but these benchmarks show 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1600x1200 and 1920x1200. Now we use a dedicated graphics card, a GeForce GTX 580, and check out the platform's performance. We are in high-quality DX10 mode with 4x AA (Anti-Aliasing) and 16x AF (Anisotropic Filtering). 

Far Cry 2 - 1024x768 - example screenshot with 8 threads

Far Cry 2 is not that GPU demanding anymore these days with modern graphics cards and as a result of that, it is very sensitive to CPU changes, it's actually a nicely threaded application as well so it offers the best of both worlds and can pinpoint fairly accurate what processor performance you have under the hood.

Crysis 2

New in the CPU benchmark suite is Crysis 2. With the recent DirectX 11 patch and that High Resolution Texture pack (download) we all know one thing, Crysis has become the best looking game to date. DirectX 11 hardware tessellation is the headline feature, but the Ultra Upgrade also introduces soft shadows with variable penumbra, improved water rendering, and particle motion blur and shadowing. Having been originally omitted from CryEngine 3, Parallax Occlusion Mapping has been reintroduced, as has full-resolution High Dynamic Range motion blur, making the games use of camera panning more detailed and defined. To improve performance further, hardware-based occlusion culling has been implemented, resulting in performance improvements from objects and scenery out of view not being rendered.


Crysis 2 then; we apply everything. Image quality settings:

  • DirectX 11
  • High Resolution Texture Pack
  • Extreme Quality settings
  • 4x AA
  • Level - Times Square (2 minute custom time demo)

Crysis 2 is a game that is multi-threaded, not optimally but it definitely can utilize up-to eight processor threads, though is proactively dominant on four of them. Hence we introduced it as a CPU test. We did lower image quality to the Extreme setting and not Ultra to give the game a little less dependency on the GPU, to show the effect of the CPU.

Crysis 2 - 1024x768 - example screenshot with 8 threads.

DX10: 3DMark Vantage

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.


We use slightly older games and this synthetic benchmark as they are more sensitive towards CPU & motherboard changes. If 'we'd use the most GPU stringenty games and applications, difference would be much closer. Let me add 3Dmark 11 as well.


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