A happy holiday to YOU!

December is here and with comes an absolute onslaught of quality PC games to take up every last bit of your vacation time. Call of Duty: World at War, Dead Space, Fallout 3, Far Cry 2 and Left 4 Dead are all great games but which of these are really going to push your gaming PC to limits? If you need to upgrade, is NVIDIA’s or AMD’s architecture more apt to perform well with them today?

You have to love it when things all seem to come together correctly for once.  This time, that conglomerate of good fortune lies with PC gamers as they find their holiday break will likely be sucked away by a bevy of outstanding gaming titles.  In order to better educate our readers we decided that we wanted to include SOME of these news games in our updated graphics test bed though which of them would fit into our schedule and benchmark criteria.  This time, rather than simply run some tests and throw out the data for only PC Perspective’s internal evaluation, we thought that sharing that information with our readers would also be helpful as they made game and graphics card purchases this month. 

Five Games for your Holiday Break

In alphabetical order, the five games we decided to test for this quick article are: Call of Duty: World at War, Dead Space, Fallout 3, Far Cry 2 and Left 4 Dead.  That is quite a collection of AAA titles and interestingly only includes a single new IP in the form of Dead Space.  All five have something different to offer the PC enthusiast as well: fast-paced shooter lovers will like Call of Duty, RPG fans will find Fallout 3 to their liking, Dead Space offers a mix of action and suspense, Far Cry 2i s a graphically impressive wide open shooter and Left 4 Dead is a multi-player feast of B-movie action and humor. 

Quick Contenders

For our initial performance testing, to judge which of these five games meet all the criteria for our benchmarking suite, I threw a pair of graphics cards at the games.  From NVIDIA we went the new 216 shader GeForce GTX 260 896MB graphics card since it is the most price-conscious high-end GPU and because the previous 192 SP version of the card is EOL.  For AMD, the Radeon HD 4870 1GB card was picked as it is the top single-GPU card on the market from the company and matches up reasonably well with the GTX 260 in terms of pricing. 

Holiday Gaming Performance Guide - How to waste your time - Graphics Cards 44
BFG GeForce GTX 260 MaxCore 896MB

Holiday Gaming Performance Guide - How to waste your time - Graphics Cards 45
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 1GB

By using these two graphics cards we can fairly easily and reliably interpolate which of these five new PC games are going to stress a graphics configuration and thus if we should be including it in all future evaluations of upcoming GPUs.

Another interesting note about these five games is that ALL but one, Far Cry 2, use DirectX 9 technology due to the adoption of all of these games on the gaming consoles as well as PCs.  It would seem enthusiasts should continue to get used to sharing games with consoles rather than getting exclusives for the foreseeable future. 

Testing Setup

Our testing configuration is the same as it has been for all recent reviews with the exception of driver versions.  We used the NVIDIA release 180.46 driver and the AMD Catalyst 8.10 hotfix driver that updated performance for Far Cry 2.  In each new game section, I will explain our testing methods as well and mention any interesting notes of caveats that we saw creep up. 

Test System Setup


Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650


EVGA nForce 790i Ultra SLI Motherboard – NVIDIA GPUs
Intel DX48BT2 Motherboard – AMD GPUs


OCZ Technology 2 x 2GB DDR-1333

Hard Drive

Western Digital Raptor 150 GB – Review

Sound Card

Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Value

Video Card

BFG GeForce GTX 260 MaxCore 896MB
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 1GB

Video Drivers

NVIDIA Forceware 180.46 Beta
AMD Catalyst 8.10 Hotfix
Power Supply PC Power and Cooling 1000 watt

DirectX Version

DX10 / DX9c

Operating System

Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit

  • Call of Duty: World at War
  • Dead Space
  • Fallout 3
  • Far Cry 2
  • Left 4 Dead

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