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Editor: Julio Franco

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Benchmarks: Enthusiast

Test System Specs: Hardware
- Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 3.00GHz (LGA775)
- x2 Kingston HyperX 2GB PC2-8500 Module(s)
- ASUS P5E3 Premium (Intel X48)
- OCZ GameXStream (700 watt)
- Seagate 500GB 7200-RPM (Serial ATA300)
- ASUS GeForce 9600 GT (512MB)
- Inno3D GeForce 8800 GT (512MB)
- ASUS GeForce 8800 GTS (512MB)
- Inno3D GeForce 9800 GT (512MB)
- Inno3D GeForce 9800 GTX (512MB)
- Inno3D GeForce 9800 GTX+ (512MB)
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 260 (896MB)
- ASUS GeForce GTX 280 (1GB)
- ASUS Radeon HD 3850 (512MB)
- ASUS Radeon HD 3870 (512MB)
- ASUS Radeon HD 3870 X2 (1GB)
- ASUS Radeon HD 4850 (512MB)
- VisionTek Radeon HD 4870 (512MB)
- Diamond Radeon HD 4870 X2 (2GB)
Software
- Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 (64-bit)
- Intel System Driver 8.4.0.1016
- Nvidia Forceware 175.19 WHQL
- Nvidia Forceware 177.79 WHQL
- Nvidia Forceware 177.41 WHQL
- ATI Catalyst 8.9 WHQL

The enthusiast settings interested us the most, as Crysis Warhead looks phenomenal when using these quality settings. However, just like the “very high” presets in the original Crysis game, the enthusiast quality settings are not a realistic option for most gaming systems. The GeForce GTX 280 (1GB), which was paired with a quad-core processor running at 3.0GHz, managed just 32fps on average at 1440x900.

Unfortunately, this is not a perfectly playable frame rate and gamers will occasionally experience choppy sequences during intense scenes.

Ideally we like to have an average of 45+ fps when playing single-player first person shooters, and you simply are not going to get this kind of performance in Crysis Warhead using the enthusiast settings. At least this is not going to be possible without using a number of GeForce GTX 280 graphics cards.

The dual-GPU Radeon HD 4870 X2 managed an average of just 31fps, followed by the GeForce GTX 260 and Radeon HD 4870 cards, which rendered 29fps. Therefore, at 1440x900 the Radeon HD 4870 X2 was just 2fps faster than the Radeon HD 4870. Clearly Crossfire is not working in this title very well and it may take higher resolutions before we will see any real advantages.

Bumping up the resolution to 1680x1050 did nothing for the playability of Crysis Warhead when using the enthusiast settings. The GeForce GTX 280 dropped 4fps and remained the fastest graphics card tested. The Radeon HD 4870 X2 was still 1fps slower, rendering an average of just 27fps, making for extremely choppy game play. The Radeon HD 4870 managed just 22fps, making it 5fps slower than its dual-GPU version.

Now finally at 1920x1200 where current owners of Radeon HD 4870 and GeForce GTX 280 graphics cards would generally find themselves, Crysis Warhead is completely unplayable. Even the menus were slow to access at this resolution using the enthusiast settings. The GeForce GTX 280 averaged 22fps, while the Radeon HD 4870 X2 hit the lead rendering 25fps. The GeForce GTX 260 dropped below 20fps, and the rest of the other 11 graphics cards tested scored even lower.