Most people would consider an average of 60 frames per second (fps) to be the minimum necessary for smooth gameplay throughout. Depending on your tolerance level, framerates between 30 and 60 fps may also be acceptable. Framerates below 30 fps render the game difficult to play, let alone enjoy.

Our objective here is hence to find the least powerful graphics card required to attain 60 fps. To do so, we will be using a spectrum of graphics cards from both Nvidia and ATI, ranging from the latest to the previous-generation.

Note that these tests were carried out with vertical sync disabled, which may cause visible screen tearing. Vertical sync (Vsync) removes this flaw but restricts the maximum framerate to the refresh rate of your monitor (60Hz for most LCDs). In practice, you will need fairly high non-Vsync framerates to start with in order to keep framerates at their highest when Vsync is enabled.

To prevent the processor from becoming a bottleneck, a mid-to-high end dual-core processor, the Intel Core 2 Duo E8400, was used.

gpu hi F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin Performance Review

Even with anti-aliasing (AA) and anisotropic filtering (AF) enabled, F.E.A.R. 2 just isn’t one of the most demanding games out there. The baseline for keeping framerates above 60 with a large monitor (>20″) would be ATI’s Radeon HD4850 or its Nvidia counterpart, the GeForce 9800GTX+.

gpu low F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin Performance Review

With AA and AF disabled, even a sub-USD100 GeForce 9600GT is just able to eke out 60 fps at the moderate resolution of 1680×1050. The even cheaper HD4650 should be able to achieve these results if you throw out a little of the eye candy or lower the resolution further.

The HD3650 and 8600GTS, mid-range cards from the previous generation, struggle at the sub-30 fps mark. We’re confident that with reduced settings or resolutions they should handle F.E.A.R. 2 just fine.

So, if you have a fairly new and powerful system, F.E.A.R. 2 shouldn’t be anything more than a speed bump. For those with older systems, decent performance is less than USD100 away if you care enough about F.E.A.R. 2 to upgrade solely for this purpose.