Building the Best PC for Crysis




Yeah, so you bought yourself a PC, but can it play Crysis?  The answer is:

image

(Click on the table to go see what parts are in the tiers.)


We want to thank Mr. Wizzard of [Techpowerup] for writing so many quality benchmarking articles such as [the HD 7850 & HD 7870 review].



So if you can play Crysis, can you play Crysis 2?


After sifting through the benchmarks, we find that Crysis 2 gets roughly 20%-30% better frame rates than Crysis, so if you can get ~50 FPS in Crysis, you will get ~60 FPS in Crysis 2 with the same settings. However, Crysis 2 uses a more updated game engine (CryEngine 3, as opposed to CryEngine2), so for example it can utilize more than two cores, and we still need to investigate further before we can say more about Crysis 2. A preliminary reading of Tom's [Crysis 2 Direct X 11 article] shows that you will see a significant drop in frame rate going from DX9 to DX11 in Crysis 2. If you play Crysis 2 with DX11, it might be almost as tough on hardware as Crysis 1. The high resolution texture pack will not have a significant impact on frame rates, as long as you have 1GB or more RAM on your graphics card. Look for our next article where we take a look at Crysis 2 benches in depth.


Crysis 3 is now in beta, and according to (unreliable?) sources such as the [Crysis 3 Alpha benchmarked] forum post on Anand's, you can expect it to chew through some SERIOUS hardware. A GPU that gets you 60 FPS in Crysis may only give you 20 FPS in Crysis 3. Enjoy!





A Note About Frame Rate (FPS)


For a beautiful visual explanation, please take a look at: [15 FPS vs. 30 FPS vs. 60 FPS].


FPS stands for Frames Per Second, and it is the unit that is used to measure frame rate. Higher frame rate means that your screen will show more images per second, which means that you will see a smoother animation. When people talk about “lag” in single-player games, they typically mean “low FPS.” When people ask for “buttery smooth” gameplay, that means they want around 60 FPS or higher.


Games generally can be of the “thinking” type, where gameplay is slower paced, or of the “twitch reaction” style, where gameplay is very fast. Strategy games, card games, roleplaying games are usually slower paced, depending more on your thinking than having extreme reaction speed. On the other hand, shooters, racing games and beat ‘em ups need lightning fast reaction speed from the player. Action/adventure or platforming titles can be either.


Slower paced games can still be tolerably playable, even at low frame rates. A game like Civilization does not have too many things visually changing every second, so a low frame rate will not produce any jarring “lag.” A game like Counter Strike needs to have very high frame rates, since it is entirely possible that you need to turn to face several directions very quickly. 20 FPS in Civilization is acceptable, 20 FPS in Counter Strike is infuriating. We changed our standard system of classification slightly, so that sub-20 FPS is undesirable, while above 55 FPS is very smooth. For slower paced games, you may be a bit more lenient with the frame rate: in response to our previous article on [Building the best PC for WoW], some people said that they can still play the game at 20-25 FPS. Crysis is a fast paced game though, so you should definitely pay more attention to your FPS.


We still consider sub-20 FPS to be unplayable. After taking most alternative viewpoints into account, we re-classify 20-30 FPS as borderline, since we know some people will be ok with it, and some people will not. As before, 30-45 FPS is playable for most people, while 45-55 FPS is smooth. If you can get above 55 FPS, then that is definitely very smooth gameplay.




Crysis Settings


We had to look for benchmarks from different websites that use roughly the same settings. Typically, the settings used for benchmarking are “high”, which is why the lower tiers suffer badly.


If you turn all the settings (and resolution) down low, Crysis can still be playable, even on a weak computer. Please keep that in mind, especially for the cheaper tiers. Crysis still looks good, even at lower settings.



Higher Resolution for Better Gaming


Resolution refers to the number of pixels on a screen. High resolution means more pixels and generally more space and detail, while low resolution means fewer pixels, and often less space. If you are using a typical (not high-end) laptop or an old screen, you likely have a low resolution. It is always better to get a higher resolution screen. The image below shows the difference in real estate between common resolutions.




Sub 1680x1050


Some 35% of players still use screens with resolutions below 1680x1050, the most common of those being 1366x768. We suspect these are laptops, or very old systems. To be perfectly frank, with how cheap 1080p screens are now, if you have a sub-1680x1050 screen, it is time for an upgrade. The enormous increase in real estate will make your normal computing more pleasant, and it will definitely make your gaming much more enjoyable. Just in case it is impossible for you to upgrade your screen at the moment, we still included the expected performance for sub-1680x1050 resolutions.



1680x1050


Many people who bought their PC some time ago still have 1680x1050 screens, and they may not want to buy a new screen yet. Some people who are on a very limited budget may not be able to afford the hardware needed to game at 1920x1080, and for them, lowering the resolution down a notch would give a frame rate boost.



1920x1080


The best thing about 1920x1080 is that the price has dropped tremendously. Once, such screens would cost tonnes, but now can be had for $130 easily (and as low as $100 for the cheapest models). An IPS screen with 1920x1080 can be had for just $160-$180. If you are buying a new screen, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you bought anything less than 1920x1080.



2560x1600


These screens are quite expensive and expansive, ranging in price from $600 to $1200. These are the highest resolutions available for normal consumers and the prices show it. These screens cost as much as a good PC and buyers with not-so-deep wallets are advised to look for something less costly. Steam’s hardware survey shows only about 1% of players have 2560x1600.



Our Recommendations for a Screen


If you are buying a new screen, make absolutely sure that it has a resolution of 1920x1080 or above. If you shop around, you can easily get a cheap 1080p screen for as low a $100.

     •  For ~$150: Asus generally makes good quality screens, like the 22" 1080p [VS228H-P] TN-panel screen.

     •  For ~$220-$260: Dell’s IPS screens are very good, and the price is reasonable. Try the 22" [U2212], or the 23" [U2312] one.

     •  For ~$700: You will have to pay lots to get the [Dell U2711], an excellent 2560x1440 27” IPS screen.

     •  For ~$1100: For the excessively wealthy who can afford it, the [Dell U3011] 2560x1600 30” IPS monster is available.

        Buy two of them, and send us the second one as a gift.



The Effect of CPU and RAM on Performance


CPU


Being quite an old title, Crysis 1 only utilizes dual cores, and the game is more GPU dependant, so even a decent SB Pentium will be fine. The performance does depend on both architecture and a little on frequency. Faster clocked CPUs get slightly better performance, but new architectures run Crysis best. It is no surprise that SB/IB will give you the best performance, but older/lesser CPUs are still fine.


RAM


Crysis officially recommends 2GB of RAM. You will definitely not be running Crysis on the Destitute tier, and every other tier has 4GB or more.


CPU and RAM Conclusion


As an older, more GPU-dependant title, pretty much every tier in [Logical Increments] has enough CPU and RAM for Crysis 1.




Graphics Cards


Crysis is slightly biased towards AMD cards, but not by much. You can expect AMD cards to give you some ~5 FPS more than similarly priced nVidia alternatives.




Logical Increments Tiers and How They Fare


Note: For consistency, we looked at benchmarks with high settings, as Crysis 1 does not have any presets. Please remember that you can get much better framerates if you turn down the settings to medium or low.



Destitute Tier


Using high graphical settings, this tier cannot play Crysis at any resolution as it is far too weak. Even at 1280x800, you are going to get something like 10 FPS. If you are going to be playing Crysis, you will need a better PC than Destitute, or you will be turning your settings down to low. With low settings, you might be able to get frame rates in the 20’s or 30’s, depending on your resolution. Crysis is a demanding game, and this tier does not cut it.



Minimum Tier


With a 6570 or 6670, your graphical power is much higher. With high settings, you can expect a frame rate in the upper 20’s (6570) or lower 30’s (6670) at a resolution of 1366x768 or lower. If you up the resolution to 1680x1050 while keeping the settings high, your FPS will dip below 20. To play Crysis enjoyably, you need something more powerful than this tier.



Entry Tier


You can get borderline 22 FPS on 1680x1050, or a playable ~35 FPS if the resolution is lower. This tier is still not good enough for Crysis.



Modest Tier


At 1680x1050, you can get frame rate in the upper 20’s, or an FPS in the lower 40’s if your drop the resolution. The 7770 is almost good enough for Crysis at modest res, but not quite.



Fair Tier


The cheapest tier than can reasonably be expected to give you playable framerates in the lower 30’s at 1680x1050. We still recommend that you go for something that will at least give you smooth gameplay, and this tier is not it.



Good and Very Good Tiers


Armed with a 7850, you can expect a playable 35 FPS in 1920x1080, and a frame rate in the lower 40’s at 1680x1050. If you lower your resolution below 1680x1050, you can expect a very smooth frame rate that is above 60 FPS.



Great and Superb Tiers


These are the first tiers that can play at a smooth 50 FPS on 1680x1050. If you want an enjoyable Crysis experience, then these are the tiers that you want to buy. On 1920x1080, you will still get a playable 40 FPS, but if you crank up the res to 2560x1600, the frame rates dips to a borderline 25 FPS.



Excellent Tier


This tier can give you a very smooth 55 FPS on 1680x1050, or a smooth 45 FPS on 1920x1080. However, if you are playing on 2560x1600, you will only get a playable 30 FPS.



Outstanding Tier


Expect a very smooth frame rate of 55 FPS or above at 1920x1080. This is a tier that we can recommend for Crysis on standard resolutions! You can still get a playable frame rate in the lower 30’s at 2560x1600.



Exceptional Tier


Consider the 7870x2 in this tier (or the GPU configurations in any higher tiers) if you are gaming in 2560x1600. If you opt for the 7870x2, your FPS at 2560x1600 should very playable, with a frame rate in the lower 40’s.



Enthusiast Tier


You will need a deep wallet to get smooth gameplay in the lower 50’s at 2560x1600. Is it worth it to spend this much just for Crysis? That depends on whether you want more raw graphical power or if you are more interested in getting the most bang for your buck.



Extremist Tier


Yes, this is what it takes to ensure very smooth frame rates of about 60 FPS in Crysis at 2560x1600. Please keep in mind that you begin to get diminishing returns (less bang for your buck) the further you are from balanced PCs that cost ~$1000. The Extremist Tier costs about $2150! If you turn the resolution down to 1920x1080, you can get very smooth gameplay for half the price.






Conclusion


Yes, your PC can play Crysis. The real question is: How well can it play Crysis? Even the APUs can now play Crysis, but only if you turn the resolution and the settings down really low.


At 1680x1050, the Great tier (~$800) will give you smooth gameplay, and the Excellent Tier (~$1000) will be very smooth.


At 1920x1080, the Excellent tier (~$1000) will give you smooth gameplay, and the Outstanding Tier (~$1200) will be very smooth.


At 2560x1600, you will need to get an Enthusiast PC (~$1650) for smooth gameplay, or an Extremist one (~$2150) if you want very smooth ~60 FPS. We recommend playing Crysis 1 on 1920x1080 instead.


Make sure to see our previous article on [Building the best PC for World of Warcraft].



About Us


The Falcon


I played nearly half the single player campaign of Crysis 1, but on a friend’s computer (because I had an x550 and he had a 4850). I never got to finish it, and I did not touch Crysis 2. After buying a new PC (i5 2500K, 560 Ti) last year, I never had time to go back and enjoy the game everyone else was talking about :(



Orion


I enjoyed the first part of Crysis a lot, sneaking around in the shadows, invisible, with a silenced gun. Once the aliens showed up it wasn’t as interesting to me. What I did play a whole lot of though, was Mechwarrior Living Legends. It’s a mod for Crysis that turns Crysis into the mech game I had been wanting since Mechwarrior 2. Now that Mechwarrior Online is out, MW:LL is less relevant, but it’s still a fantastic mod. Too bad those guys never got a kickstarter project going to turn it into a full game. (Maybe they could still do it for single player...)




Sources


Images


We want to thank reddit user [SuckItLily] for the images they posted [here].

We want to thank reddit user [romey] for the images they posted [here].

We used an image from the official Crysis EA page [here].


Cpu Usage


Techspot's Crysis 2 review

Anand's 8150 review

Tom's dual-core vs quad-core review

Hothardware's Vishera Review

Guru3d's Vishera review

Legionhardware's Vishera review

Techspot's Vishera review



FPS


Techpowerup's 7750 review

Techpowerup's 520 review

Tomshardware's 6570 and 6670 review



Crossfire


Tweaktown's 7870 CF review

Techpowerup's 7950 CF review

Pcper review of 7870 in CF



SLI


Techpowerup review of 670 SLI

Tomshardware's review of 660 Ti

Benchmark Reviews GTX 660 Ti vs GTX 670



Crysis 2


Ninjalane GTX 660 Ti

Techreport GTX 660Ti review

UK Hardware.info GTX 660 Ti review

Guru3D GTX 660 Ti Review



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