Crysis 2: performance across 45 graphics cards! - BeHardware
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Written by Damien Triolet

Published on March 30, 2011


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Much anticipated, Crysis 2 arrived last week. Although currently limited to Direct3D 9, we wanted to observe performance at 1080p, with and without 3D Vision, in the three quality modes on offer and all this across no less than 45 graphics cards!

Limited graphics options
Influenced by console versions, but also to distance itself from the idea that a monster graphics card is required to run it, Crytek has limited graphics options and avoided making overly demanding modes available. Only a Direct3D 9 version is therefore currently available with 3 overall quality settings: high, very high and extreme. There aren’t any specific settings or antialiasing parameters, which will of course disappoint certain enthusiasts who will have to get their hands dirty to adapt rendering in more detail. A little utility has also been developed by a member of the forum to facilitate customisation of graphics options.

High quality mode

Very High Quality mode

Extreme quality mode

Although the difference in quality seems minimal on these screenshots, it’s more noticeable in practice. The quality modes differ mainly on 3 points which are noticeable above all during movement: the level of antialiasing (post process and MSAA), the quality of shadows and the level of detail according to distance. Without antialiasing, with shadows that aren’t much filtered and which flicker a great deal and details that appear or disappear suddenly according to the distance of objects, ‘high’ quality mode seemed a lot less pleasant to us than the two others, even if the level of quality on offer is clearly better than the low and medium quality levels of the first Crysis.

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List of cards

List of cards
For this little snapshot of performance in Crysis 2, we ran the ‘few’ cards we had to hand through their paces:

Radeon HD 4650 DDR2 512 MB
Radeon HD 4670 GDDR3 512 MB
Radeon HD 4770 512 MB
Radeon HD 4830 512 MB
Radeon HD 4850 512 MB
Radeon HD 4870 1 GB
Radeon HD 4890 1 GB
Radeon HD 4870 X2
Radeon HD 5450 DDR3 512 MB
Radeon HD 5570 1 GB
Radeon HD 5670 1 GB
Radeon HD 5750 1 GB
Radeon HD 5770 1 GB
Radeon HD 5830 1 GB
Radeon HD 5850 1 GB
Radeon HD 5870 1 GB
Radeon HD 5970
Radeon HD 6850 1 GB
Radeon HD 6870 1 GB
Radeon HD 6950 2 GB
Radeon HD 6970 2 GB
Radeon HD 6990 375W
GeForce 8800 GS 384 MB
GeForce 8800 GT 512 MB
GeForce 8800 GTX 768 MB
GeForce 9600 GSO 384 MB
GeForce 9600 GT 512 MB
GeForce 9800 GT 512 MB
GeForce 9800 GTX 512 MB
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 512 MB
GeForce GTS 250 512 MB
GeForce GTX 260+ 896 MB
GeForce GTX 275 896 MB
GeForce GTX 285 1 GB
GeForce GTX 295
GeForce GTS 450 1 GB
GeForce GTX 460 SE 1 GB
GeForce GTX 460 768 MB
GeForce GTX 460 1 GB
GeForce GTX 480 1.5 GB
GeForce GTX 550 Ti 1 GB
GeForce GTX 560 Ti 1 GB
GeForce GTX 570 1.25 GB
GeForce GTX 580 1.5 GB
GeForce GTX 590

The Radeons were all tested with the Catalyst 11.4 preview2 drivers and the GeForces were all tested with the 267.85s, all in Windows 7 64bits with a Core i7 980X.

Unfortunately, AMD still doesn’t have a CrossFire X profile for Crysis 2 and performance levels in multi-GPU are very low with scaling close to zero. A temporary solution is to rename crysis2.exe as fear.exe, which we did. Note however that this is only possible with the DVD version of the game and not with the Steam version.

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Results at 1080p

Results at 1080p

Hold the mouse over the graph to rank the cards according to performance.

Hold the mouse over the graph to rank the cards according to performance.

Crysis 2 seems to have been as well optimised for the GeForces as the Radeons. These results are, then, very close to what the performance indexes showed in our tests:

Radeon HD 5750 = GeForce GTS 450
Radeon HD 6850 = GeForce GTX 460 1 GB
Radeon HD 6950 = GeForce GTX 560 Ti
Radeon HD 6970 = GeForce GTX 570

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Results with 3D Vision

Results with 3D Vision
Crysis 2 supports 3D stereo natively. A technology such as 3D Vision isn’t therefore required to generate it and will only be used as a display mode. Crytek hasn’t given any details on how Crysis 2 handles 3D stereo but it doesn’t render two slightly different views in the way we’re used to seeing it. There is just one rendering and the right and left eye views are simulated from this single view, with pretty good, but not perfect results. Some elements aren’t very well rendered and a slight halo is visible around the weapon.

On the other hand, the impact on performance is reduced as other than cases where cards are limited by 60 fps, we noted a cost of between just 10 and 20%. This is moreover inversely proportional to the quality level, which implies that it is more or less a fixed cost at a given resolution.

Crytek has put three display modes into place: interlaced, side-by-side and driver. If 3D Vision is enabled in the drivers, Crysis 2 automatically activates driver mode. If 3D Vision is disabled however, it gives the option of either deactivating stereo 3D or activating interlaced or side-by-side modes. If you have a screen that is compatible with one of these formats you won’t need to acquire any software (3DTV Play or other) to enjoy it.

Strangely, all these modes are only available with a GeForce. The option which allows you to activate stereo 3D is greyed out when you’re using a Radeon.

Hold the mouse over the graph to rank cards according to performance.

Hold the mouse over the graph to rank cards according to performance.

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While PC versions of games influenced by consoles are often criticised as not being fully optimised, this certainly isn’t the case here and Crytek has obviously made quite an effort to optimise the PC version of CryENGINE 3 down to the last detail.

However, though not light with the most demanding graphics options, in its current version Crysis 2 won’t have the most powerful current cards on their knees in the same way as the first version of Crysis did a few years ago. Note however, we have said ‘in its current version’ as there are insistent rumours of the forthcoming arrival of a Direct3D 11 patch. This may moreover have been developed in collaboration with NVIDIA, which no doubt means that tessellation will be on the menu.

As things stand, you can play Crysis 2 in ‘extreme’ quality mode at 1920x1080 with all high end DirectX 11 graphics cards, while mid-range cards can handle the ‘very high’ quality mode. With a few small additional concessions in terms of fluidity (40 fps) and quality (‘high’ quality mode), you’ll be able to play Crysis 2 under acceptable conditions with graphics cards such as the Radeon HD 4850. You will however have to move down to 1680x1050 or even 1280x1024 on other lower performance models. Of course, entry level cards aren’t made for gaming and you won’t be able to enjoy Crysis 2 with a Radeon HD 5450 or its GeForce equivalent.

The good news for 3D stereo enthusiasts is that while Crysis 2 doesn’t give perfect results in terms of quality, this option is perfectly playable with cards such as the GeForce GTX 550 Ti or GTX 460. A few concession will of course have to be made on quality, but it remains playable. On the highest end models you can enjoy the highest quality rendering.

Let’s finish off with a few remarks on CrossFire X and more particularly the fact that there’s still no Crysis 2 support one week after release. While we imagine that AMD won’t delay much longer, it’s incomprehensible that users of this technology, or bi-GPU cards, have to wait so long to enjoy a hit such as Crysis 2 on their hardware. If relationships with one developer or another don’t always allow the preparation of a profile in advance, AMD should be working all out in such cases to get a solution into place as quickly as possible, even if only in beta version at first. This seems far from impossible to us, especially as renaming the executable file to use the profile of another game sorts out the problem to a great extent! Unfortunately, barely a few weeks after the release of the Radeon HD 6990, AMD has once again highlighted the weak point of its multi-GPU solutions…

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