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As had to be expected, adding DirectX 11 support made Call of Duty: Black Ops II a more demanding title, but not to an extreme by any means. Compared to our tests conducted two years ago on the original Black Ops title, the second installment saw graphics cards such as the Radeon HD 6770 drop around 35% in performance, while the 6870 suffered a 29% performance reduction. It was a similar story for Nvidia cards, the GeForce GTX 480 was 44% slower and the GTX 580 was 38% slower.
As far as the visuals go, the updates made to the game engine have improved things, giving this Call of Duty game a fresher, more detailed look. This is certainly not the situation we faced last year when going from Modern Warfare 2 to MW3, which left us with no visual enhancements over its 2-year old predecessor.
If the comparison serves any purpose, Black Ops II remains a less demanding game than the recently reviewed Medal of Honor: Warfigher which uses the Frostbite 2.0 engine. The GeForce GTX 660 Ti was 15% faster in Black Ops II, while the Radeon HD 7870 was 13% faster.
If you plan to game at the popular 1920x1080 resolution (1080p) -- which is virtually the same as the 1920x1200 we tested at, for performance purposes -- you will only require a Radeon HD 5870 or GeForce GTX 480, both of which are two generations old now. Looking forward at something more current the Radeon HD 7770 managed 39fps while the GeForce GTX 650 Ti was more impressive with 46fps.
Those looking for serious performance need not look further than the GeForce GTX 660 Ti or Radeon HD 7950, both of which managed just over 80fps, while the Radeon HD 7870 made a compelling argument with 76fps.
Even at 2560x1600 gamers will be happy with the performance the GeForce GTX 660 Ti and Radeon HD 7950 have to offer.
When we looked at processor scaling and performance, it became clear that like previous Call of Duty titles, Black Ops II is predominantly a GPU-bound game. Providing you have at least 4 threads to play with, it should be possible to get the most out of today's high-end GPUs.
Overall, Call of Duty Black Ops II looks like an exciting first person shooter with an immersive single player campaign, though I have to admit to only playing the first few missions. The graphics are improved when compared to previous Call of Duty titles though they are nowhere near they could be for a late-2012 PC game.