Performance with Half-Life 2 Episode 2 and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
To touch on gaming performance, we chose two games that draw moderately on system resources, Half-Life 2 Episode 2 and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. We then ran a pre-recorded demo of each at a resolution of 1280x800 and also at a higher resolution of 1920x1080 (the panel's maximum). The resulting performance achieved is indicated in frames per second in the graph below, and we tossed in benchmarks from Asus' G51VX -- which includes the exact same 1GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260M GPU -- for reference.
It's pretty tough to believe that we were fairly impressed with the FPS numbers put up by Dell's Studio XPS 16 just last month. With a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo CPU and a 1GB ATI Radeon HD 4670 GPU, it was about as good as it got for the money. Here we are a month (and a major Intel platform) later, and a whole new bar has been set. The 1.6GHz Core i7-720QM, assisted by a 1GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260M GPU, plowed right through our two major gaming tests. The numbers speak for themselves, but during our real-world testing, we found both titles to be buttery smooth at Full HD (1080p) with all detail options maxed. In other words, both of these titles are no match for the hardware within the G51J-A1. Of course, Far Cry 2 is an entirely different matter, requiring much more potent innards in order to play back smoothly. So, we tested this rig with that title as seen below.
DirectX Gaming Performance
Like the original, FarCry 2 is one of the more visually impressive games to be released on the PC to date. Courtesy of the Dunia game engine developed by Ubisoft, FarCry 2's game-play is enhanced by advanced environment physics, destructible terrain, high resolution textures, complex shaders, realistic dynamic lighting, and motion-captured animations. We benchmarked the graphics cards in this article with a fully patched version of FarCry 2, using one of the built-in demo runs recorded in the "Ranch" map. The test results shown here were run at three different resolutions (1280x720, 1600x1024 and 1920x1080), DirectX 10 enabled, 4x Anti-aliasing, and identical render quality settings.
As we suspected, Far Cry 2 really put a strain on the system. With 4X AA enabled and all other settings set to "High," we couldn't break the 30FPS barrier at the panel's native resolution. At 1280x720, the game was just playable, while the two higher settings were noticably jumpy at times. You could definitely make things more playable by disabling AA or stepping it down to 2X. Just to give you an idea of what a difference the CPU and OS make, have a look here. You'll notice that the Asus G51VX, which shares the exact same 1GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260M GPU as on this machine, had nearly identical frame rate numbers when we tested that rig in August with Far Cry 2. The difference? It had to run at 1366x768 to reach those figures, whereas we were able to reach as high as 1080p and still not dip below 25FPS. Impressive, to say the least.