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by Rob Williams on October 31, 2008 in NVIDIA-Based GPU

No matter your need for graphics power, the choice of GPUs right now is fantastic. Where high-end gamers are concerned, two popular options are the HD 4870 1GB and the GTX 260/216. We’re taking a look at XFX’s latest release of the latter, which features such an impressive factory overclock, it manages to keep up to the GTX 280.

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.

The humorous thing about S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is that almost all of the above results are not “playable” by my standards, except with the HD 4870 X2 on 1680×1050 and 1920×1200. Using DX10 mode is very strenuous, and it might just take a little while before affordable GPUs can handle the stress at any resolution.

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 9600 GT 512MB
1920×1200, Full Dynamic Lighting, Medium

With that said, like the GTX 280, the best playable setting is achieved by using the same graphics mode sans DX10 and also dropping the quality settings to Medium.


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