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Old 09-22-12, 02:00 PM   #1
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Post Borderlands 2: is CPU capable of handling the PhysX effects?

Borderlands 2, latest and probably one of the greatest games with support for GPU accelerated PhysX effects, is a HOT topic these days.

Usually, extra PhysX effects are meant to be executed on compatible NVIDIA GPUs, so even if one can force his CPU to do the work, it is not very effective ' massive slowdowns and fps drops during scenes with intence physics are make the games hardly enjoyable. This is valid for titles like Batman series, Alice: Madness Returns, Mafia II and others.

Said matter was a tough topic over recent years, even resulting in claims that NVIDIA 'hobbles' the CPU PhysX performance by purpose, to make their GPUs look more advantageous.

However, recently we saw many reports (mostly from AMD users) that Borderlands 2 shows surprisingly good performance, while running with all PhysX effects enabled even without a NVIDIA card in the system.

Thus, we decied to perform a little investigation to answer the question ' can a CPU handle all the extra PhysX effects in Borderlands 2 ?

A boss fight against 'Boom and his brother Bewm' is a good candidate for PhysX testing ' scene contains a lot of particles (also, particles are constantly generated over time) and some cloth objects.

Gun in our hands has explosive rounds - this produces even more particles




Testing system: i7 2600K CPU, GTX 580 GPU, 6 GB RAM, Win 7 64-bit.

In-game settings: 1680?1024, all High. 60 sec sequence was recorded with FRAPS.



First of all, Borderlands 2 is showing excellent performance while utilizing GPU for PhysX calculations ' minimum framerate is above 60 even on high PhysX settings.

But most interesting, CPU execution can also provide playble framerate, despite the fact that Borderlands 2 is still using good old PhysX SDK 2.8.4. We assume that some scenes in the game, containing lots of fluids and particle effects, may result in lower fps (~20), but still ' framerate won't crawl most of the time, like in previous games.

Whatever CPU optimizations NVIDIA has implemented in this title ' they are working.

To summarize: Borderlands 2 is one of the first GPU PhysX titles, where presence of NVIDIA GPU is not a mandatory condition, but a way to make the PhysX gameplay much smoother (twice as smooth, to be precise).

P.S. if PhysX option is grayed out on your system, you still can change the settings using "PhysXLevel" parameter in "WillowEngine.ini" file:
(\Documents\My Games\Borderlands 2\WillowGame\Config)

PhysXLevel=0 - PhysX Low
PhysXLevel=1 - PhysX Medium
PhysXLevel=2 - PhysX High


P.P.S. Hybrid PhysX configurations are also supported.





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