Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Diary of an Assassin - Tenth Entry

Well, it seems like the Assassin’s Creed franchise decides when it’s time for me to upgrade. I originally started writing this series because I had to upgrade my computer to be able to play the first Assassin’s Creed. Since then I’ve played through all five games, seeing the changes from one to the next, with each one playing silky smooth. That is, until Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag.

From the first scene, Black Flag told me, “Hey, I’m going to tax your system.” The naval battle at night in the rain chugged along; dipping to 30 frames per second at times, no thanks to the way the AnvilNext engine handles vertical sync. I spent about a week at the area above tweaking settings, trying different anti-aliasing options, seeing if I could squeak out extra frames by turning down shadows, foliage, god-rays, and other environment effects.

I built my computer in November 2011, and by 2013, it was already showing signs of age. So I did what I thought any other PC player would do gain a bit of power without spending extra money: I overclocked, further. When I built my system, I overclocked my i5-2500K from its factory setting of 3.3GHz to 4.0GHz with a third-party cooler. This was my first time ever trying to overclock something, so I thought that was decent. Doing more research, I found the i5-2500K was stable enough most people could overclock to 4.0GHz using just the stock cooler, and with third-party coolers, it could reach up to 4.8GHz.

In order to make sure conditions were right for overclocking, I cleaned out my system of any dust or particles, cleaning up around the desk area, and in general making the area cooler for the system to run. With that, I bumped up the CPU to 4.5GHz and ran a few stress tests to make sure it was stable. Once it was, I also dug into overclocking my EVGA GeForce GTX 570. I used MSI Afterburner to bump it up from its default settings of 732MHz core clock, 1464MHz shader clock, and 1900MHz memory clock, to a core clock of 850MHz, 1700MHz shader clock, and 2000MHz memory clock.

What this all essentially means is I gained about 10-15 extra frames per second while playing Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag, making gameplay range anywhere from 45 to 60 frames per second, which makes for a vastly better game experience. I also was able to stave off having to upgrade for another few months until Watch Dogs releases.