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Mafia II Performance Preview

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Testing the performance of today's most capable video cards in this new game from 2K Games, Mafia II, will be done to see which manufacturers' video cards offer up the best performance out of the box. Since Mafia II makes use of NVIDIA's Physx Technology and supports the use of 3D Vision, 3D Surround and 3D Vision Surround, it makes sense to capture the performance of the cards capable of using these attributes when enabled. The settings in each respective control panel will be left at the default settings. For NVIDIA based cards, PhysX is enabled by default and will be tested both with and without a dedicated PhysX card, in this case a GTX 260. Drivers used for this test will be ATI's Catalyst Suite 10.7 and NVIDIA's latest 258.96 driver package.

Testing Setup:


Comparison Cards:




Non PhysX Testing:

In this section the video cards will be going heads up in an even comparison without PhysX enabled so that you get an idea where the cards fall in terms of raw performance in the game without additional enhancements.




PhysX Testing:

In this section of the testing PhysX is enabled and will be tested with this optimization to see if and how hard the gaming performance is hit to get the full eye candy show. For this exercise APEX PhysX will be set to HIGH!




When you run Mafia II without PhysX enabled, the frame rates are playable with graphics hardware from a GTX 460 and HD 5850 with high settings (for the most part) up to 2560x1600. When you turn on the eye candy (APEX PhysX) to get the whole visual experience, the hardware requirements go up. The testing bares these hardware recommendations out. At that point the factory overclocked Sonic GTX 460 delivers 30 FPS at 1920x1200. The ATI cards do deliver better FPS than I had expected to see based on past CPU rendered physics performance in previous releases such as Cryostasis and Mirror's Edge. The visual effects do look more life-like when PhysX is enabled. The way the clothes move and hang on a body are a strong step forward toward a more realistic experience. Smoke and objects on the screen are affected by force fields created by explosions, you get destructible environments so you see the debris all over the place as you shoot into walls and windows. Another thing that really caught my eye was the way the smoke billowed from the rear tires of a car when spinning the tires in game. This is quite realistic. The game opens up another level of realism when playing with PhysX and 3D Vision. If you have not had the opportunity to try it out for yourself, you should. This little performance preview is not all about the technologies and the intricacies of the game but a quick test to see what kind of performance you can expect to get with some of today's hardware from both camps. At this point, if you want eye candy and performance, you go with NVIDIA. Add in a separate card for PhysX and you see an increase in frame rate performance up to 1920x1200 on a G92 or lower end GT 200 based variant. You can get an idea of how performance measures up but as a demo, things will likely change and receive small tweaks to get the most from the game.


  1. Introduction
  2. Testing: Setup & Results
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