Despite being an underdog in October 2009, Borderlands quickly became a hit among PC and console gamers, selling over 4.5 million copies and taking Gearbox software to a new level. Despite complaints about repetitive gameplay and tricky menus, fans loved the title's unique comic-book-like art style and the seamless mashup of the first-person shooter and RPG genres.
Given the success of its first entry, it was no surprise when Gearbox revealed plans to produce a sequel designed to address Borderlands' shortcomings while building on its strengths. As you very likely know, this follow-up started with critical acclaim this week, scoring a metacritical score of 89 out of 100 on PC (even higher scores for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions at 92 and 90, respectively).
Based on the reviews we've read, Borderlands 2 manages to build on the foundation laid three years ago, providing an improved menu system, revamped skill trees, new characters, more weapons, smarter enemies, and the same addictive, loot-fueled cooperation ego – Shooter action. As exciting as it all is, we're more interested in seeing the game play on the best PC hardware from Intel, AMD, and Nvidia.
The game is based on a heavily modified version of Unreal Engine 3 and only uses DirectX 9, excluding DirectX 11 support from the engine. It's worth noting that Borderlands 2 is a title that supports a lot of Nvidia features like PhysX and 3D Vision Surround. In other words, we wouldn't be surprised if Nvidia's cards kept a noticeable performance edge throughout our review.
As an additional side note, people buying a new graphics card for Borderlands 2 should be aware that the game is bundled with all Nvidia cards, starting with the GeForce GTX 660 Ti and above. We've already valued this model highly as it is an incredible $ 300 value. The agreement between Gearbox and Nvidia sweetens the deal even further. Anyway, let's get down to business …
We are testing 26 graphics card configurations from AMD and Nvidia in all price ranges with the latest official drivers for each card. Our test bench will be equipped with an Intel Core i7-3960X to remove CPU bottlenecks that could affect the high-end GPU results.
We'll be using Fraps to measure frame rates during 90 seconds of gameplay footage from Borderlands 2's second level, Southern Shelf. The test starts at the beginning of the level and here the frame rate is quite high as there is little landscape. However, the frame rate drops quickly when the player enters an open area and battles Brat Bullymong.
Test system specifications