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Well, we have good news and bad news: Crysis 3's visuals have far exceeded our expectations, but you won't be able to enjoy them on max without investing in some serious hardware. For starters, you'll definitely want a quad-core processor, preferably a recent Core i5/i7 or the FX-8350. Assuming you clear that hurdle, you'll likely want dual GTX 680s or HD 7970 GHz Editions to play on very high at 1920x1200 or more.
In other words, you'll need at least $800 worth of graphics crunching prowess in your chassis if you want to experience Crysis 3 at its finest. If you can't foot that bill, you may be stuck with medium quality, which still requires at least a GTX 680/670 or the HD 7970 GHz Edition for 60fps at 1920x1200, though you can get by with something more affordable like the HD 7870 if you're comfortable with the low 40s.
It's worth noting that we only tested the stock presets, so you should be able to achieve better results by tweaking certain settings. Furthermore, we stuck with SMAA, which was only set to 1x (low), as this appeared to be the default setting for the game. FXAA should allow for better performance, though we didn't like the image quality as much. Of course, you can disable AA entirely if you don't mind jaggies.
In our opinion, for the typical gamer, the best graphics card for playing Crysis 3 right now is the GTX 660 Ti, as a single card can deliver an average of 40fps at 1920x1200 using the high quality preset, which is more frames than the HD 7970 and the old GTX 580. Better still, two of them in SLI allow for a solid 60fps at 1920x1200 on very high quality, which seems like the very definition of a sweet spot to us.
As impressive as the SLI performance was, we occasionally experienced random crashing with the GTX 660 Ti cards, so Nvidia still has some work to do here. Anyone living with a dual-GPU setup knows how it is and shouldn't be too disturbed, but we're delaying multi-GPU testing until things stabilize. Regardless, we couldn't have delivered this article so soon with those results given all the other benching involved.
AMD could also use a driver update or three. When testing Crysis 2, the HD 7950 is about 2fps faster than the GTX 660 Ti at 1920x1200, yet it's 4fps slower in Crysis 3 with similar quality settings. Needless to say, we expect both camps to release various performance enhancements over the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, we're just happy to have a gorgeous shooter that challenges high-end PC hardware.
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