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A Technical Look at Max Payne 3
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by Rob Williams on June 11, 2012 in Gaming

With Max Payne 3 reviewed, how about we take a look at the game from a technical perspective? Wondering what the game brings to the tessellation table? How FXAA compares to MSAA? Whether HDAO is really worth the performance hit? We tackle all these questions and more, so read on.

Performance & Final Thoughts

To experience Max Payne 3 the way it’s meant to be played (to quote a certain GPU vendor), you’ll want to max out the “Quality” levels, enable HDAO, disable MSAA, enable ‘Very High’ FXAA and use your own judgment on tessellation. As mentioned on the first page of this article, the tessellation effect in this game is hit or miss, and based on our included screenshots, you should be able to decide whether it’s actually needed or not.

In our testing (using a GTX 580), we found performance hits to be: A) ~5 FPS when enabling ‘Very High’ tessellation, B) ~4 FPS when enabling ‘Very High’ FXAA and C) 5~20 FPS when using HDAO in lieu of SSAO, dependent on the scene. If you decide to use MSAA over FXAA, you can expect an FPS hit of 40~50%.

Component
Model
Processor
Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition – Six-Core @ 4.20GHz – 1.375v
Motherboard
GIGABYTE G1. Assassin 2 – F4E BIOS (12/12/2011)
Memory
Corsair Dominator GT 16GB DDR3-2133 9-11-12-27, 1.60v
AMD Graphics Radeon HD 7970 3GB (Reference) – Catalyst 12.6 Beta
NVIDIA Graphics GeForce GTX 680 2GB (Reference) – GeForce 301.42
Audio
Onboard Creative X-Fi
Storage
Kingston HyperX 240GB SATA 6Gbit/s SSD
Power Supply
Corsair AX1200 1200W
Chassis
Cooler Master HAF X Full-Tower
Display
Gateway XHD3000 30″
Cooling
Corsair H70 Self-Contained Liquid Cooler
Et cetera
Windows 7 Professional SP1 x64

For our testing, we used the settings laid out above and AMD and NVIDIA’s most up-to-date drivers. The level benched was Chapter IX, checkpoint #2. Max begins out high in a favela, and makes his way through the town in search of Giovanna and Marcelo. Our benchmark begins as soon as the level begins, and ends right before his first battle with corrupt cops (~2 minutes).

Max Payne 3 Performance

Max Payne 3 1080p Performance

Max Payne 3 2560x1600 Performance

At 1080p, NVIDIA has an obvious edge, though at 2560×1600, both cards even out. This could be due to the NVIDIA card being equipped with just 2GB of GDDR (vs. 3GB on the AMD card), but it’s hard to settle on that given 2GB has been sufficient for most other recent games.

We hope that you enjoyed our look at Max Payne 3 from a technical perspective, and hope to do similar articles down the road. If you have any suggestions or want to comment on this article in particular, hit up the forum link below.

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