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The guys over at [H] Enthusiast have been toying with Clear Sky and have posted up several benchmarks and comparisons on how the game performs on different systems, differences between DX10 and DX9, and what you need to run the game on max settings.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky is exactly what it has been advertised to be: a prequel to Shadow of Chernobyl with an updated graphics engine that, while still scaling well with older hardware, allows us to push the performance envelope. It is the first game to come across our test bench with a volumetric smoke effect, and one of the first games we've seen with weather appropriate surface shaders. The Radeon HD 4870 X2 is the only single card configuration that would allow us to leverage these DX10 features. Clear Sky contains the same overall gameplay style as Shadows of Chernobyl, but with some useful additions. If you loved the first S.T.A.L.K.E.R., you will probably love Clear Sky.
If you have been stalling your upgrade for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, your time is now. If you are looking in the Enthusiast-class high end market, your â€œfastestâ€ bet is definitely the ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2. It is brutally fast right now, and that should only improve over time with game and driver updates. In fact, we expect to see a good deal of the erratic framerates exhibited by AMDâ€™s 4870 GPUs to be fixed with its next driver release, but for now that is wishful thinking. However, the slower GTX 280 provided a great gameplay experience at 2560 resolution without the downspikes in framerate that annoyed us while playing the game with the 4870 X2. A good 4870 X2 will still cost you big bucks and when it comes to Clear Sky the GTX 280 is simply a better value.
If your budget is more modest, your best option is a good NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260. You can buy one today from Newegg for as low as $220.
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