Testing Methodology

We tested Modern Warfare 3 with 18 graphics cards spanning all price ranges and we installed the latest drivers available -- neither AMD or Nvidia updated their drivers for this game. We hate to keep taking jabs like this, but we imagine it's because they didn't have to.

Fraps was used to measure frame rates during a minute of gameplay from the second single-player mission of the first act. The performance was measured from the beginning of the mission, having played through the first few acts the frame rates here seemed to be about as low as they go.

We tested the game at three resolutions: 1680x1050, 1920x1200 and 2560x1600 using the maximum in-game quality settings.

Gamers will want MW3's image quality settings on "native" rather than "extra," which seems counter-intuitive. This setting should actually be called image size rather than quality. "Extra" forces the game to downscale the resolution to 85% and then upscale it to 100%. This is a cheap way of getting extra performance without sacrificing as much quality as you would by permanently lowering the resolution, but it looks extremely blurry and I highly recommend you use native. Also, be aware that reviews showing cards like the GeForce GTX 570 hitting 150fps at 2560x1600 are using the lower quality "extra" setting.

Test System Specs
- Intel Core i7 2600K
- x2 4GB G.Skill DDR3 PC3-12800 (CAS 8-8-8-20)
- Asus P8P67 Deluxe (Intel P67)
- OCZ ZX Series 1250w
- Crucial RealSSD C300 256GB (SATA 6Gb/s)
- GeForce GTX 580 (1536MB)
- GeForce GTX 570 (1280MB)
- GeForce GTX 560 Ti (1024MB)
- GeForce GTX 560 (1024MB)
- GeForce GTX 550 Ti (1024MB)
- GeForce GTX 480 (1536MB)
- GeForce GTX 470 (1280MB)
- GeForce GTX 460 (1024MB)
- GeForce GTS 450 (1024MB)
- GeForce 9600 GT (1024MB)
- Radeon HD 6970 (2048MB)
- Radeon HD 6950 (2048MB)
- Radeon HD 6870 (1024MB)
- Radeon HD 6850 (1024MB)
- Radeon HD 5870 (2048MB)
- Radeon HD 6790 (1024MB)
- Radeon HD 6750 (1024MB)
- Radeon HD 6670 (1024MB)
- Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit
- Nvidia Forceware 285.62
- ATI Catalyst 11.10