We’re always on the lookout for games that take advantage of the latest PC hardware and although our game performance reviews have included major series such as Battlefield, BioShock, Crysis and Far Cry, we haven’t tested any Metal Gear games despite the franchise’s age and the number of titles it encompasses.

I must embarrassingly admit that I’ve never played a Metal Gear game before, though that’s partly because the series has focused exclusively on console and portable gaming devices for much of its existence, only recently becoming a regular release on PC.

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Created by Hideo Kojima and developed and published by Konami, Metal Gear debuted almost three decades ago in 1987 on the MSX2 (a 3.58MHz computer). Since then, MGS has often only been available on PlayStation with Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance being the first modern title to hit PC, though it arrived a year after its launch on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 so it didn’t exactly make waves.

That same year, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes arrived but was also delayed on PC for nine months after being released on console. The extra time ensured that the game looked noticeably better on PC thanks to additional lighting, shadows, higher resolution render targets and shadows as well as increased detail over distances — not to mention that it could be played at 60fps and supported resolutions up to 3840x2160 (4K).

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The end result was a breathtaking game that we admittedly overlooked. That said, the 60fps lock and the huge delay to PC were probably factors in our decision to skip a performance review of that release (the frame rate lock is also why you don’t see the game being used widely to test the latest GPUs).

Now almost a year after Ground Zeroes hit PC we have a new Metal Gear Solid V title and this time around it shipped simultaneously for PC and console players on September 1.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was built using the same Fox Engine as Ground Zeroes so you can expect to see subsurface scattering, physically-based rendering and other impressive technologies.

Testing Methodology

We expect stunning visuals as Konami recommends an Intel Core i7 and GeForce GTX 760 — interestingly, no AMD hardware is mentioned and you can probably thank Nvidia’s influence for that. Using the latest AMD and Nvidia drivers, we tested 26 DirectX 11 graphics cards covering most price ranges. Our test rig was outfitted with an Intel Core i7-5960X to remove CPU bottlenecks that could influence high-end GPU scores.

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Using FRAPS we recorded 120 seconds of gameplay. The benchmark was recorded while riding a horse through the desert, taking out some enemies along the way.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was tested at three resolutions: 1920x1080, 2560x1440 and 3840x2160 using the maximum in-game quality settings. Features such as motion blur, volumetric clouds and depth of field were all enabled while the following options were all set to ‘extra high’: model detail, textures, texture filtering, shadows, lighting, post processing, effects and ambient occlusion.

Test System Specs

  • Intel Core i7-5960X (3.00GHz)
  • x4 4GB Kingston Predator DDR4-2400 (CAS 12-13-13-24)
  • Asrock X99 Extreme6 (Intel X99)
  • Silverstone Strider Series (700w)
  • Crucial MX200 1TB (SATA 6Gb/s)
  • HIS Radeon R9 390X (8192MB)
  • HIS Radeon R9 390 (8192MB)
  • HIS Radeon R9 380 (4096MB)
  • HIS Radeon R7 370 (2048MB)
  • HIS Radeon R9 290X (4096MB)
  • HIS Radeon R9 290 (4096MB)
  • HIS Radeon R9 285 (2048MB)
  • HIS Radeon R9 280X (3072MB)
  • HIS Radeon R9 270X (2048MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 7970 GHz (3072MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 7970 (3072MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 7950 Boost (3072MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 7950 (3072MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 7870 (2048MB)
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan X (12288MB)
  • Gainward GeForce GTX 980 (6144MB)
  • Gainward GeForce GTX 980 (4096MB)
  • Gainward GeForce GTX 970 (4096MB)
  • Gainward GeForce GTX 960 (2048MB)
  • Palit GeForce GTX 950 (2048MB)
  • Gainward GeForce GTX 780 Ti (3072MB)
  • Gainward GeForce GTX 780 (3072MB)
  • Gainward GeForce GTX 770 (2048MB)
  • Palit GeForce GTX 760 (2048MB)
  • Gainward GeForce GTX 680 (2048MB)
  • Gainward GeForce GTX 660 Ti (2048MB)
  • Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
  • Nvidia GeForce 355.82 WHQL
  • AMD Catalyst 15.8 Beta

Benchmarks: 1080p

Those looking to play The Phantom Pain at 1080p will get away with relatively low-end/dated hardware. The nearly four year old HD 7950 averaged 48fps with a minimum of 38fps (very playable) while the new GTX 950 provided a strong average of 52fps with a minimum of 40fps .

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Nvidia has a clear advantage in this title at the moment and that can be seen when making numerous comparisons. The GTX 950 for example was 33% faster than the R7 370 when comparing minimum frame rates and the GTX 970 was just a single frame slower than the R9 390X.

Older GPUs that Nvidia and AMD seem to have stopped supporting or at least optimizing we should say still managed to provide competitive performance. For example, the GTX 680 was on par with the 7970 GHz Edition.

Benchmarks: 1440p

Running at 1440p scrubbed out the lower-end cards. The HD 7950 was good for just 30fps on average with a 24fps minimum. To maintain at least 30fps or more at all times you’ll need at least a GTX 680 or GTX 960 from Nvidia or R9 290 from AMD, though the R9 380 did come close with a 28fps minimum.

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Nvidia’s big guns were still able to reach the 60fps limit and while the GTX 980 was good for 60fps on average, it did drop down to 51fps at times.

The older GTX 780 Ti and GTX 780 performed well here and we’ve become used to seeing the GTX 780 rubbing shoulders with the GTX 960 lately rather than the GTX 970. The R9 390X was slightly slower than the GTX 970 and GTX 780.

Sorry for the absence of the Fury X and Fury graphics cards but AMD can’t send us samples at this point and we can’t even buy them.

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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.