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Far Cry 3 PC Performance Test: Graphics & CPU

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Designed exclusively for PC, the original Far Cry sold 730,000 copies in the first four months following its March 2004 release and was hailed as one of the best shooters, combining an adventurous plot that followed ex-Army operative Jack Carver's heroic exploits on a mysterious Micronesian archipelago with engaging sandbox combat and some of the period's most advanced graphics courtesy of CryEngine.

Despite Far Cry's success, Crytek shifted gears to a fresh IP, Crysis, instead of focusing on a follow up to its previous hit—a decision that came at least partly because the studio felt Far Cry's fiction was too restrictive. Nonetheless, Ubisoft (Far Cry's publisher) had no intentions of letting the property fizzle out, and its Montreal outfit released a multi-platform sequel in October 2008.


Having been developed by a different studio, Far Cry 2 was considerably different from its predecessor. Among the most notable changes was the use of a heavily modified version of CryEngine called Dunia. The title also featured new characters, a fresh setting, a more open world and new gameplay mechanics. Some gamers heavily criticized those changes, but Far Cry 2 was still positively received and sold well.

Having passed four years since Far Cry 2's arrival, Ubisoft has revisited the franchise this holiday season with a third entry that more closely resembles the franchise's 2004 debut.


Far Cry 3 is set on a tropical island, this time found somewhere at the intersection of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and the story involves rescuing your kidnapped friends from the island's unhinged inhabitants.

The latest release is built using an advanced version of the Dunia engine called Dunia 2, which is said to feature new water rendering technology, a realistic weather system, advanced AI technology, a new animation system, realistic facial expressions, motion capture technology and global illumination—many of which are made possible by the game's adoption of DirectX 11 and can only be experienced on the PC version.

Based on the screenshots we saw leading up to the game's release, we were expecting it to be highly demanding and at least we hope that it can take advantage of the latest and greatest graphics cards and processors. If so, it would join a few other recent releases (namely Hitman: Absolution and Medal of Honor: Warfighter) that also managed to tax our high-end gear. Let's toast some silicon...


Testing Methodology

We'll be testing 29 DirectX 11 graphics card configurations from AMD and Nvidia. The latest drivers will be used, and every card will be paired with an Intel Core i7-3960X to remove CPU bottlenecks that could influence high-end GPU scores.


We're using Fraps to measure frame rates during 90 seconds of gameplay footage from Far Cry 3's third chapter, Dr. Earnhardt's Mansion. Our test begins on one of the nearby islands under a radio tower. At the start of the test, a nearby patrol vehicle approaches and is taken out using a sniper rifle, then on foot we run through some dense vegetation to a nearby enemy camp where some hostiles are engaged briefly before the test ends.

We'll test Far Cry 3 at three common desktop display resolutions: 1680x1050, 1920x1200 and 2560x1600, using the DX11 mode. For the ultra-quality test, we'll set the 'overall quality' in the video quality menu to ultra while also setting the MSAA level to 4. The high-quality test will be conducted with MSAA disabled with the overall quality setting on high.


  • Gigabyte Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition (3072MB)
  • Gigabyte Radeon HD 7970 (3072MB)
  • Gigabyte Radeon HD 7950 (3072MB)
  • AMD Radeon HD 7870 (2048MB)
  • AMD Radeon HD 7850 (2048MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 7770 (1024MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 7750 (1024MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 6970 (2048MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 6950 (2048MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 6870 (1024MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 6850 (1024MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 6790 (1024MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 6770 (1024MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 6750 (1024MB)
  • AMD Radeon HD 5870 (2048MB)
  • AMD Radeon HD 5830 (1024MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 680 (4096MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 680 (2048MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 670 (2048MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660 Ti (2048MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660 (2048MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 650 Ti (2048MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 580 (1536MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 570 (1280MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 560 Ti (1024MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 560 (1024MB)
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 480 (1536MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 460 (1024MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 550 Ti (1024MB)
  • Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition (3.30GHz)
  • x4 4GB G.Skill DDR3-1600 (CAS 8-8-8-20)
  • Gigabyte G1.Assassin2 (Intel X79)
  • OCZ ZX Series 1250w
  • Crucial m4 512GB (SATA 6Gb/s)
  • Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 64-bit
  • Nvidia Forceware 310.70
  • AMD Catalyst 12.11 (Beta 11 CAP 2)

1920x1200 - High Quality


At 1920x1200, Far Cry 3 demands quite a bit of horsepower, requiring the HD 7950 Boost to reach an average of 60fps. We're impressed with the GTX 660 Ti, which averaged 61fps, while the GTX 680 matched the HD 7970 GHz Edition at 70fps and the standard 7970 stood at 67fps, just 2fps faster than the GTX 670. Below 60fps are the HD 7950 with 54fps and the 7870 with 53fps, after which there is a large drop in performance with the GTX 580 rendering 46fps and the GTX 660 offering 45fps.

Ultra Quality Preset


Running Far Cry 3 at 1680x1050 with the highest possible in-game quality settings activated alongside 4xMSAA, the GTX 680 managed only 59fps while the HD 7970 GHz Edition offered just 54fps and the standard HD 7970 averaged 52fps. The HD 7950 Boost came out 2fps ahead of the GTX 660 Ti with 49fps, while the standard 7950 averaged 43fps, a notch ahead of the GTX 660, which is the slowest card we'd bother using to play with these settings.


At 1920x1200, the GTX 680 drops 10fps to an average of 49fps, while the HD 7970 GHz Edition managed even less and the GTX 660 Ti and HD 7950 dipped below 40fps.


If you plan to play Far Cry 3 with its highest quality settings at a resolution such as 2560x1600, you'll definitely want an upper-end multi-GPU configuration, as a single GTX 680 only rendered 31fps while the HD 7970GHz Edition offered a meager 29fps.


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Steven Walton is a writer at TechSpot. TechSpot is a computer technology publication serving PC enthusiasts, gamers and IT pros since 1998.