Bad Company 2: Performance & Verdict
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 features the highest recommended system requirements out of the games featured here. It's the only game to recommend a quad-core processor, though the minimum system requirements are much more forgiving. Two gigabytes of memory and 10GB of hard drive space is fairly standard and shouldn't be hard to meet. The recommended graphics requirements call for at least last-gen hardware like the NVIDIA GeForce GTS 250 or ATI Radeon 4850. This is pretty steep, though just like the processor requirements, the minimum system requirements are much more lenient.
Bad Company 2's graphical setting menu reveals that Dx9 users will be missing out on HBAO, a form of screen-space ambient occlusion, soft shadows and anti-aliasing. Just like Aliens vs Predator, Dx9 users will have to do without anti-aliasing unless they force FSAA through their drivers. Bad Company 2 is one of the few games which allows the user to force a Dx10 rendering path on Dx11 hardware, so we have included Dx10 results along with the usual Dx9 and Dx11 numbers.
Bad Company 2 does not have a benchmarking feature so all our performance testing was conducted using manual benchmark runs. For each benchmark setting tested, we played through the entire first level of the single-player campaign 5 times while recording the average frames per second performance using Frap's benchmarking feature. The results presented below are an average of all 5 benchmark runs for each setting.
The most prominent feature of the set of benchmark results above is the extreme performance delta between Dx9 and the other rendering paths. In all three resolutions, with both video cards, we see that Dx9 performed nearly twice as well as Dx10 and Dx11. However, note that Dx9 is missing multiple image quality features which are not available and cannot be enabled. Out of the missing features, the most significant to performance is likely the absence of anti-aliasing. Screen-space ambient occlusion is also missing, which accounts for some of the performance delta as well.
Without anti-aliasing and HBAO, Dx9 suffers in terms of image quality but at a tremendous performance gain. Despite the performance drop, performance with the Radeon 5770 remains acceptable at very playable levels, even at 1920x1200. It's interesting to note that Dx10 and Dx11 performance are very similar. This is likely because most of the Dx11 features are also available in the Dx10 rendering path, though without the assistance of hardware acceleration.
Bad Company 2 Dx11 Verdict: Get it. While the game suffers from a massive performance drop with all of the DirectX 10/11 exclusive image quality settings cranked up, the overall performance remains very playable. If you're stuck with Dx9 in WinXP, you're not missing out too much since the image quality difference is hardly night-and-day, but it is definitely there and noticeable. Considering the game remains very playable in Dx11 with all the goodies enabled, we'd say it's worth it.