15
Nov
07

You want to play Crysis, do you? Hope you’re willing to sell your firstborn…

So, you’ve decided you’re tired of playing Wolfenstein 3D and you’re finally ready to take a step up to a next generation game.

Chances are you’ve heard about a little game called Crysis, which promises to be one of the most graphically demanding titles to hit any platform. It’s set in the tropical jungles of Korea, a part of which has been mysteriously flash frozen. Problem is, you’re going to need some serious hardware to render every last flower and blade of grass in Crytek’s latest opus.

Let’s start by taking a look at the system requirements for Crysis:

Type of hardware: Minimum System Requirement Recommended System Requirement
CPU Intel Pentium 4 2.8 GHz (3.2 GHz for Vista), Intel Core 2 2.0 GHz (2.2 GHz for Vista), AMD Athlon 2800+ (3200+ for Vista) or better Intel Core 2 Duo, AMD Athlon X2 or better
RAM 1.0 GB (1.5 GB for Vista) 1.5 GB
VRAM 256 MB of Graphics Memory 512 MB of Graphics Memory
Available Hard Drive Space 12 GB 12 GB
Sound Card DirectX 9.0c Compatible DirectX 9.0c Compatible
Optical Disc Drive Type DVD-ROM DVD-ROM
Operating System Windows XP or Vista Windows XP or Vista
DirectX Version DirectX 9.0c or DirectX 10 DirectX 9.0c or DirectX 10

Even the minimum system requirements are pretty beastly, and that’s to play the game at its lowest settings.

I can tell you from playing the single player demo released late last month that the lowest settings won’t cut it for any but the least picky gamers. Moreover, meeting the recommended system requirements doesn’t mean you’ll be able to run the game on its highest settings.

I’m going to give you the breakdown for three different systems, built from the ground up, with three different levels of Crysis readiness.

Good for Everyone

In the interest of convenience, I decided to standardize the motherboard for this project.

I settled on the ABIT IP35 Pro, which retails for about $185. It has two PCI-E x16 slots for dual video cards, if you decide to go that route, and it can support up to 8 gigabytes of RAM. This may seem a little pricy, and I understand there are a number of different factors when it comes to choosing the motherboard that’s right for you. But this is a very solid board that’s somewhat future-proofed for the next inevitable upgrade to your system. Besides, the motherboard is the backbone of your system; you don’t want to skimp on this component.

Because I decided to standardize the motherboard, I’m only recommending Intel-brand processors. If you’d like to use an AMD CPU, I’m definitely not against that; however, Intel currently has better high-end processors, so that’s the reason I went that route.

I also decided not to give our opinion about a particular case, because we feel that’s primarily an aesthetic choice. However, I recommend at least a mid-size tower that has good fan-powered ventilation. The latest video cards are rather large, so you’ll want to make sure they fit inside your case.

So, first up is a machine for those of you who want to play Crysis on a budget.

The Budget Box

Component type Entry-level Upgrade
Power Supply Rosewill RP500-2 ATX12V v2.01 500W Power Supply – $45 Rosewill RP600V2-S-SL 600W SLI Ready-ATX12V V2.01 Power Supply – $60
CPU Intel Pentium 4 631 Cedar Mill 3.0GHz – $75 Intel Dual-Core E2180 Allendale 2.0GHz – $90
RAM CORSAIR ValueSelect 1GB (2 x 512MB) 240-Pin DDR2 – $27 CORSAIR XMS2 1GB (2 x 512MB) 240-Pin DDR2 – $66
Video Card NVIDIA GeForce 7600GT 256 MB GDDR3 PCI-E x16 – $90 NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT 256 MB GDDR3 PCI-E x16 – $140
Hard Drive Western Digital Caviar SE WD800JD 80GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s – $43 Western Digital Caviar SE WD1600AAJS 160GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s – $50
Sound Card Motherboard sound Motherboard sound
Optical Disk Drive ASUS 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-ROM SATA – $20 Samsung SH-S203B 20X DVD Writer – $35
Operating System Windows XP Home – $195 Windows XP Pro – $287
DirectX Version DirectX 9.0c DirectX 9.0c
Total price $495 $728

Either one of these systems will give you good performance for all of your basic applications and older and recent games, and get you playing Crysis on its lowest settings. The Allendale processor gets you into the dual-core generation at a bargain price. Although newer, faster, dual-core processors aren’t much more expensive.

You’ll probably be okay with the Corsair ValueSelect RAM since you won’t be doing much over-clocking with this system. However, the better timings on the premium RAM may give you a slight performance boost.

As far as sound cards go, the onboard sound for most motherboards is pretty good these days. Unless you want to plunk down for a higher-end sound card, I’d stick with the cheapest option: not buying one at all.

Your motivation for getting the latest generation video card is if you’re planning on upgrading to Windows Vista sometime soon and you don’t want to buy a DirectX 10 compatible card then. Plus, you can add another of the 8600GTs in SLI-mode for a significant performance boost down the road. If you’re planning on doing that, pick up the beefier power supply, too.

Remember that upgrading to Vista will also require upgrading your RAM to at least 2GB.

Now let’s bump up to the recommended settings.

The Workhorse

Component type Entry-level Upgrade
Power Supply Rosewill RP600V2-S-SL 600W SLI Ready-ATX12V V2.01 – $60 OCZ GameXStream OCZ700GXSSLI ATX12V 700W – $150
CPU

 

Intel Core 2 Duo E4500 Allendale 2.2GHz – $128 Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 Conroe 2.33GHz  – $170
RAM Kingston 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 667 (PC2 5300) – $50 G.Skill 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) – $55
Video Card Radeon HD 2900PRO 512MB 512-bit GDDR3 PCI-E x16 – $249 NVIDIA 8800 GTS 640MB 320-bit GDDR3 PCI-E x16 – $400
Hard Drive Western Digital Caviar SE WD1600AAJS 160GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s – $50 Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD3200AAKS 320GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s – $80
Sound Card Motherboard sound Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer – $81
Optical Disk Drive ASUS 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-ROM SATA – $20 Samsung SH-S203B 20X DVD Writer – $35
Operating System Windows XP Pro – $287 Windows Vista Ultimate – $320
DirectX Version DirectX 9.0c DirectX 10
Total price $854 $1,291

The “entry-level” specifications laid out above result in a very nice machine, and should get you up to the medium graphics settings in Crysis with no issue. The “upgrade” specifications are all you’ll need to play Crysis somewhere between medium and high settings and almost any other current game on higher settings.

The upgraded system sports a processor with a larger L2-cache; double that of the entry-level system. This, plus the faster RAM, translates into faster data access.

The raw memory boost you gain by choosing the NVIDIA card likewise gives you a boost. Though, better drivers for the Radeon will narrow that gap. Again, if you’re planning on adding a second video card in the future, be sure to take the upgraded power supply. You’ll most certainly need it for running the high-end video cards in SLI or Crossfire.

A note about Windows Vista: although drivers for both video cards have improved, Windows XP is still delivering faster frame rates across the board. You’ll miss out on any DirectX 10 effects, but development for the new platform isn’t very far along at this point. That means you probably won’t miss much by not upgrading to Vista. Windows XP is still the operating system of choice for gamers.

The Sound Blaster card is completely optional, as well. The EAX effects offered by these cards result in a much fuller surround sound experience, best experienced with headphones. But if you want to save some dough (and chances are you do), skip it and stick with the onboard sound.

Finally, we come to a machine that should allow you to play Crysis on its highest settings. I essentially specced it out to have the most rediculous gear I could find. Be warned, the total price of this monster is not for the faint of heart, or the light in cash flow.

The Behemoth

Component type Entry-level Upgrade
Power Supply Silverstone ST1000 ATX12V / EPS12V 1000W – $275 Thermaltake Toughpower W0156RU ATX12V / EPS12V 1200W – $370
CPU Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 Conroe 3.0GHz Dual Core- $280 Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 3.0GHz  Quad Core – $1,100
RAM G.Skill 4GB(2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) – $145 2x G.SKILL 4GB(2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) – $290
Video Card 2x NVIDIA 8800 GTX 768MB 384-bit GDDR3 PCI-E x16 – $1,100 2x NVIDIA 8800 Ultra 768MB 384-bit GDDR3 PCI-E x16 – $1,400
Hard Drive Western Digital Raptor WD740ADFD 74GB 10,000 RPM SATA150 – $150 2x Western Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD 150GB 10,000 RPM SATA150 – $180
Sound Card Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer – $81 Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer – $81
Optical Disk Drive Samsung SH-S203B 20X DVD Writer – $35 Samsung SH-S203B 20X DVD Writer – $35
Operating System Windows Vista Ultimate – $320 Windows Vista Ultimate – $320
DirectX Version DirectX 10 DirectX 10
Total price $2,386 $3,956

There’s very little that needs to be said about these two systems – they both kick all kinds of ass and to say they’re future-proof is a serious understatement.

In fact, the components included in the “upgrade” column can’t even be used to their full potential. Anything more than 4 GB of RAM is wasted in 32-bit Windows, and the quad core processor screams excess, since most applications aren’t even utilizing dual core processors to their full potential. The gains with the 8800 Ultras over the 8800 GTXs will also be negligible.

As much fun as it is to see what you can do if money is no object, the nearly $4,000 dollar system we priced out is, to put it mildly, overkill.

Wrap Up

Crysis is a fantastic looking game, and first-person shooter fans are in for a real treat… if they have the gear to run the monstrously sophisticated graphics engine.

Remember, too, that you don’t have to build a system from the ground up if you’ve played more recent games. If you have, chances are you’re system has some components that will serve you just fine, e.g., your hard drive, your motherboard, and your processor.

Upgrading your video card and your RAM alone can be a pricey but extraordinarily valuable investment. Just watch out for recommended power supply wattages when upgrading your video card and you should be fine.

I’ll see you in the jungle!

I’m definitely looking for commentary on this piece – lemme know what you guys think about the system requirements and the cost of the equipment you’d need to run this game. Is Crytek taking it too far? Or is this just the price you pay for next-gen gaming?

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3 Responses to “You want to play Crysis, do you? Hope you’re willing to sell your firstborn…”


  1. 1 Dustin Sievers
    April 14, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    If you could please write an email back to me it would be appreciated. I have nvidia 8600gts 256mb quad core 2.44 6800 4gb ram. vista home premium. is there any advantage having vista ultimate for crysis and how much performance do you think i would get out of crysis with my setup?

  2. April 28, 2008 at 3:46 am

    Vista will only degrade your performance in Crysis, at least compared to XP, but not too badly… 3-8 FPS neighborhood. To be honest, I’d recommend an 8800gt 512mb version for Crysis, and I’m starting to think that 450W-550W power supplies may not cut it so nicely…

  3. 3 drivel
    May 12, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    If you’re only running a one hard drive, one optical drive, and onboard everything (except for the video card) a 550W might cut it. Otherwise, strongly consider the 650W-800W range. I’m running a 750W myself.


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