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ASUS GeForce EN9800GT Matrix
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by Rob Williams on November 21, 2008 in NVIDIA-Based GPU

Picking out a new graphics card is easier to do now than ever, as there seems to be a model to cover every single price-range, and not just from one single GPU manufacturer, either. Today’s card is one that represents the ~$125 price spot and is designed as a step-up from the 9600 GT, with ASUS applying their usual TLC to help add even more appeal.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky

When it comes to first-person shooters, post-apocalyptic adventures are a dime a dozen. But when S.T.A.L.K.E.R. was first released in the spring of 2007, it dared to be different. How? By basing the game off of a real-world tragedy, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which occurred way back in 1986 near the city of Prypiat in the Ukraine. Despite the disaster happening so long ago, people are still unable to live in the surrounding area, and will be unable to for at least another 150 years.

In addition to the games real-world ties, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. happened to be one of the grittiest, realistic (aside from the problematic AI) and expansive games we’ve seen on the PC in a while. Having the ability to roam as you like is a huge benefit and really helped make the game feel real. Clear Sky further delivers on what made the original so great, but at the same time, adds support for DX10.

It might be difficult to judge from the screenshot, but Clear Sky (like the original) is one of the most demanding games on the PC today, especially if you wish to play using DX10. To help push all of our GPUs to their breaking-point, we stick to that mode while using the “High” quality setting.

It’s all too common to hear someone say, “But, will it run Crysis?”, but in all reality, it should be S.T.A.L.K.E.R. we’re talking about. With DX10 lighting, the game is a true bog on any rig. It looks good, but when it’s not that playable without a HD 4870 X2 and 1680×1050 resolution, all we can do is laugh.

Graphics Card
Best Playable
Palit HD 4870 X2 2GB
2560×1600, Enhanced Full Dynamic Lighting, Medium
Palit GTX 280 1GB
2560×1600, Enhanced Full Dynamic Lighting, Medium
XFX GTX 260/216 896MB
2560×1600, Enhanced Full Dynamic Lighting, Medium
Palit 9800 GX2 1GB
2560×1600, Full Dynamic Lighting, High
Palit HD 4870 512MB
2560×1600, Full Dynamic Lighting, High
ASUS HD 4850 512MB
2560×1600, Full Dynamic Lighting, Medium
ASUS 9800 GTX+ 512MB
1920×1200, Full Dynamic Lighting, High
ASUS 9800 GTX 512MB
1920×1200, Full Dynamic Lighting, High
Gigabyte 9800 GT 512MB
1920×1200, Full Dynamic Lighting, High
Gigabyte 9600 GT 512MB
1920×1200, Full Dynamic Lighting, Medium

Like all the other low-end cards in our roundup, this game is only playable at a maximum of 1920×1200 and with a render setting of Full Dynamic Lighting. It does manage to up the quality setting of the 9600 GT though, to High, from Medium.


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