1680x1050 – High/Medium/Low
We are looking for an average of 60fps for stutter-free gameplay, and as you can see when using the high quality settings with 2xAA/4xAF this is a tall order, even at a relatively low resolution such as 1680x1050. Here a single Radeon HD 5870 managed 73fps, while Crossfire cards were 53% faster averaging an impressive 112fps.
The Radeon HD 5850 averaged 60fps, while the GeForce GTX 285 rendered just 54fps, making it only a fraction faster than the Radeon HD 5830. The GeForce GTX 275 was only slightly lower with an average of 52fps. The Radeon HD 4890 delivered 50fps, while the recommended graphics cards for this game, the GeForce GTX 260 and Radeon HD 4870, rendered 47 and 44fps respectively.
We found it possible to play Battlefield: Bad Company 2 with an average of ~45fps, but at this rate there were still moments of laggy gameplay every now and then, generally when something was exploding, which was quite often in this game as you can imagine. Basically anything below the Radeon HD 4870 on the above graph struggled to deliver playable performance, which writes off about eight or nine of the tested graphics cards.
Lowering the quality settings from high to medium only seemed to allow for around 5 fps more on average, though admittedly the difference in visual quality went unnoticed for the most part as well.
The GeForce GTX 275 was now able to just break an average of 60fps, while the GeForce GTX 285 and Radeon HD 5850 graphics cards were more comfortable, delivering perfectly playable performance in all conditions.
The Radeon HD 4890 averaged 59fps and it was again able to deliver perfectly playable performance. The recommended Radeon HD 4870 and GeForce GTX 260 graphics cards delivered around 55fps and were now providing smooth gameplay. The Radeon HD 5770 and 5750 graphics cards averaged 54fps and 52fps respectively, and for the most part delivered playable performance at 1680x1050 using the medium quality settings.
From the Radeon HD 4770 and below things got a little dicey, so we would recommend lowering graphics quality settings or drop the resolution further for stutter-free gameplay.
With the low quality preset enabled we have removed the high-end graphics cards and added a few discontinued products, such as the GeForce 8600 GTS and Radeon HD 3850. With the low quality settings in effect the GeForce 9800 GT averaged 60fps, meaning that this model and the other 12 tested graphics cards above it on the graph were capable of delivering playable performance.
Using low quality settings at 1680x1050 means that owners of budget graphics cards, such as the GeForce 9600 GT/GT 240 and Radeon HD 5670/4830, should get away with an acceptable level of performance with an average of 50+ fps.