Call of Duty: Black Ops Benchmarks – GeForce GTX 460 vs Radeon HD 6870

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The COD: Black Ops Benchmarks

Call of Duty: Black Ops USSD

Call of Duty: Black Ops will be one of the most popular PC game titles this holiday season and we just had to benchmark it.  Most gamers will be shocked to hear this is only a DirectX 9 game title, but it is.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Benchmark Level

Call of Duty: Black Ops does not have a built-in benchmark utility available to test performance, so the next best way to get accurate results is by using a Frames Per Second recording utility like Fraps to track performance over a section of gameplay. We ended up playing several levels into the game and ran Fraps for 120 seconds on each card in the level called S.O.G. as it looked like a good place to benchmark and it was touch on video cards. We ran the benchmark three times on each card and then averaged the results. It should be noted that Call of Duty: Black Ops has a built in frame rate cap that is set to 85GPS to keep high end cards from throttling with very high frame rates. We manually increased this setting to 500 prior to benchmarking by editing the Call of Duty: Black Ops game config file. The command you need to change is com_maxfps “85” and 500 worked fine for us.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Benchmark Settings

We then set the image quality settings to high and got right to
benchmarking! We tested the AMD Radeon HD 6870 and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX
460 1GB video cards with AA turned up to 16x and the other image quality settings in the game cranked up to the

COD: Black Ops Benchmark Test Results

The results were rather shocking as the reference ATI Radeon HD 6870 was able to hold its own against the reference NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 1GB. Only a 3-6% difference was observed, but a win is a win no matter how you look at it. We have to say that the AMD Radeon HD 6870 video card with Catalyst 10.10d hotfix drivers is faster than the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 1GB with Forceware 262.99 drivers. That being said we all know that driver improvements for this game are likely to happen with the next driver drop from each company and we know that they can pull out some nice enhancements.

Just for fun we thought that it would be good to do some 3D game testing as many of our readers are starting to get interested in the topic. Call of Duty: Black Ops for Windows PC is NVIDIA 3D Vision-Ready (rated: Excellent in terms of 3D Vision support) and supports stereoscopic 3D gaming using 3D Vision active-shutter glasses and the appropriate 3D panel.  Since this only applies to NVIDIA graphics cards only that card was used for testing. We switched over to an ASUS VG236 23-inch widescreen LCD monitor ($343.99 shipped)
and tested at 1280×1024 and 1920×1080 screen resolutions. The monitors
native resolution was 1920×1080, which is why we were unable to test at
1920×1200 on this testing situation.

COD: Black Ops Benchmark Test Results

As you can see, enabling 3D Vision really hammered the performance of the card as we noted a 58% drop in the frame rate when having the setting enabled. Remember we are running this test with same settings that we talked about before, so this is with the 16xAA and the AF maxed out. You can lower these settings and get better performance if you like. If you are a fan of 3D then you’ll be happy with 3D Vision on Call of Duty: Black Ops as the game looks amazing with 3D enabled and all the image quality settings cranked up.

Final Thoughts and Conclusions:

Call of Duty: Black Ops is the seventh installment of the Call of Duty series and for those that have fallen in love with the game series, this game will bring a smile to your face. The game is based on conflicts of the Cold War era and that is one time period that you don’t see too many games based around. When it comes to performance the PC game was easily playable on current mainstream video cards from AMD and NVIDIA with all the eye candy turned up.  We were shocked to see both the GeForce GTX 460 1GB and the Radeon HD 6870 were hitting more than 100FPS with 16x AA enabled, but then we remembered the games minimum system requirements.

Call of Duty: Black Ops PC Game Minimum System Requirements:

  • OS: Windows Vista / XP / 7
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 or AMD Phenom X3 8750 or better
  • Memory: 2GB
  • HDD:12GB
  • Video: Shader 3.0 or better 256MB NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT / ATI Radeon X1950Pro or better
  • Sound: DirectX 9.0c-compatible
  • DirectX: 9.0c

Some people say these settings are too much for the average PC user, but we have to disagree with that.  Most PC gamers have a dual-core or better processor these days. The average PC gamer also likely has a newer video card than the Radeon HD X1950 Pro as that card came out way back in October 2006. Plus this is only a DirectX 9.0c game title in a day and age where the video card makers are pushing DX11 gaming hardware down our throats. It better run good on video cards that have just come out!

When it comes to pricing, the AMD Radeon HD 6870 video card can be purchased for $239.80 shipped and the GeForce GTX 460 1GB can be found for $187.85 shipped. These two cards are without a doubt the most popular choices right now for mainstream gamers that want to spend around $200 and want a solid gaming graphics card. You really can’t go wrong with either of these cards if you are looking to upgrade to a new card for Call of Duty: Black Ops, but the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 1GB gives you the best performance for the dollar and does a fair job in 3D if you turn down the image quality a bit.  

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