If you've been a gamer for at least a decade, then you will recognize Max Payne as the PC third-person shooter of the early 2000s. Notable for its film noir style and use of the bullet time effect (The Matrix), Max Payne's character went on to surpass anyone's expectations with several console ports, a sequel, and a feature film adaptation in 2008.

Shortly after that, Max Payne 3 was announced and it's been in the works at Rockstar Studios since. The original game was developed by finnish developer Remedy Entertainment and published by the now defunct 3D Realms. Max Payne 3 promises exciting gameplay and impressive graphics, marking the return of bullet time in action sequences, while retaining the shoot-dodge mechanic from previous titles.

On the technology side of things, Rockstar talked earlier about its ability to blend physics and animation. For example, when Max takes a dive to surprise his enemies he does so appropriately according to his surroundings. This is done through the use of the advanced Euphoria dynamic animation engine. However, the game itself is built on the RAGE game engine, so in a sense there are two engines used in the game on top of each other.

The RAGE engine has been upgraded for Max Payne 3 with support for DirectX 11 and stereoscopic 3D rendering on the PC. The added support for DX11 effects has been one of the reasons for our anticipation of this title and why we are bringing you this performance article.

It's been hinted that Max Payne 3 will make the most of current high-end PCs, with DirectX 11 tessellation compatibility and "advanced graphics options" available to PC players. So with that in mind let’s take a look at the test setup and then get into the results. Make sure you check out our visual tour comparing DX9 through DX11 graphics.

Testing Methodology

In case you lost count, we'll be testing 25 DirectX 11 graphics card configurations from AMD and Nvidia across all price ranges. The latest official drivers were used for every card. We installed an Intel Core i7-3960X in our test bed to remove any CPU bottlenecks that could influence high-end GPU scores.

We used Fraps to measure frame rates during 90 seconds of gameplay footage from Max Payne 3’s fifth single-player level: "Alive If Not Exactly Well". The test begins at the start of the mission where you take a power boat ride down a river before going ashore and starting the mission. The first 90 seconds of footage is the same every single time as it is an in-game cut scene and we chose this scene because it is very demanding.

Test System Specs

  • AMD Radeon HD 7970 (3072MB)
  • Gigabyte Radeon HD 7950 (3072MB)
  • AMD Radeon HD 7870 (2048MB)
  • AMD Radeon HD 7850 (2048MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 7770 (1024MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 7750 (1024MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 6970 (2048MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 6950 (2048MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 6870 (1024MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 6850 (1024MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 6790 (1024MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 6770 (1024MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 6750 (1024MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 6670 (1024MB)
  • AMD Radeon HD 5870 (2048MB)
  • AMD Radeon HD 5830 (1024MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 5670 (1024MB)
  • Gainward GeForce GTX 680 (2048MB)
  • Gainward GeForce GTX 670 (2048MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 580 (1536MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 570 (1280MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 560 Ti (1024MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 560 (1024MB)
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 480 (1536MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 460 (1024MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 550 Ti (1024MB)
  • Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition (3.30GHz)
  • x4 4GB G.Skill DDR3-1600 (CAS 8-8-8-20)
  • Gigabyte G1.Assassin2 (Intel X79)
  • OCZ ZX Series 1250w
  • Crucial m4 512GB (SATA 6Gb/s)
  • Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 64-bit
  • Nvidia Forceware 301.42
  • AMD Catalyst 12.4

We tested Max Payne 3 at three common desktop display resolutions: 1680x1050, 1920x1200 and 2560x1600, using normal and very high quality settings. Both modes were tested in the DirectX 11 mode with vsync and MSAA disabled while ambient occlusion was set to SSAO. The very high settings used 984MB of video memory at 1920x1200 while the normal settings used 331MB at the same resolution.