BioShock 2 Hardware Performance Guide

BioShock 2 doesn't require much of a computer to run, but if you've got an aging rig it'll help to know where to start upgrading.

BioShock 2 looks and feels largely like the original BioShock. The system requirements went up a notch, but the game runs well on a wide array of machines. Most modern machines should be able to run the game without any problems. It's only when we start to dig into our box of computers parts that came out three or four years ago that we encountered problems.

We used FRAPs to measure frame rates while we took a 30 second run through the Adonis Luxury Resorts. The test path took us through the wide-open baths and into more cramped hallways to get a mix of area sizes. We ran each test three times and then averaged the results.

Game Settings

BioShock 2 has similar settings to the original BioShock, except for the two-year difference. As a result, if you have anything made in the past three years, you can leave it all enabled. If not, there are a few things you can tweak.

Graphics

We tested BioShock 2 with the GeForce 8600 GTS on up to AMD's current flagship GPU the Radeon HD 5970. The game runs well on most video cards, but you're likely to find your biggest gains here if you want to upgrade.

CPU

A Pentium 4 may get you in the door, but it's by no means the ideal experience. We tested a large range of CPUs to help you figure out where to stop.

Memory

BioShock 2 needs 2GB of RAM to run, and we checked to make sure it was sufficient.

Systems

Our slowest machine slightly exceeds the minimum requirements for the game: 3.0GHz Pentium 4 paired with a GeForce 7800 GT. Even with an 800MHz advantage, the game struggled to churn out a semiplayable experience at any quality setting. Low frame rates compounded with slow texture loading made the experience quite lackluster. It'd be much easier to just hop onto a console and play the game. The reccomended system--a Core 2 2.1GHz with a GeForce 8800 GT--ran the game without a hitch at maximum quality settings and at fairly high resolutions. Stepping into a modern midrange system, outfitted with a Core i5 and a Radeon HD 5770, BioShock 2 ran perfectly. A faster system will yield higher frame rates, but the returns definitely don't warrant the expense.

System Setup:

Modern Mid-Range System: Intel i5-9750, Intel DX58S0, 3GB DDR3, 750GB Seagate 7200.11 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows 7 32-bit. Graphics Card: Radeon HD 5770, ATI Catalyst 10.1.

Recommended System: Intel Core 2 E6420, eVGA 680SLI, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GBx2), 750GB Seagate 7200.11 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows 7 32-bit. Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT, Forceware 196.21.

Minimum Requirements System: Intel Pentium 4 3.9GHz, eVGA 680SLI, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2), 750GB Seagate 7200.11 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows 7 32-bit. Graphics Card: GeForce 7800 GT, Nvidia ForceWare 196.21.

Settings

To play BioShock 2 at anything but high quality destroys the game. To be particularly blunt, the medium- and low-quality settings look terrible. If you have to adjust anything at all, we'd start with the resolution. Should that not work, hit the three settings we tested below. You'll reclaim quite a bit of performance, but the game will most certainly start to look ugly.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 E8200, eVGA 680i SLI, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GBx2), 750GB Seagate 7200.10 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows 7 32-bit. Graphics Card: GeForce 8600 GTS, Nvidia ForceWare 196.21.

Image Quality Comparison

Graphic Presets

High Medium Low

Shadow Maps

On Off

High Detail Post Processing

On Off

High Detail Shaders

On Off

Video Cards

BioShock 2 doesn't need much to perform well, but it sure won't say no to better hardware. All of our tests were done at 1920x1200 with high-quality settings. It's only when we got to the bottom of the bunch that we encountered unplayable frame rates, which was quite easily solvable by dropping the resolution a smidgen. The game supports GPUs down into the GeForce 7 series and Radeon X1xxx series, but at that point, the experience is laughable.

System Setup: Intel Core i7 965 Extreme, Intel DX58S0, 3GB DDR3, 750GB Seagate 7200.11 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows 7 32-bit. Graphics Drivers: Nvidia ForceWare 196.21, ATI Catalyst 10.1.

CPU

Intel's newer Core i7 and i5 CPUs perform identically. Reaching back to the Core 2 series of CPUs, performance doesn't budge much until we got to the slowest one in the bunch. The Pentium 4 is clearly the odd man out in this bunch. It's definitely worth upgrading from the much-aged platform. In addition to low frame rates, slow texture loading issues made the game a blurry mess.

System Setup: Above CPUs + Intel DX58S0, eVGA 680i SLI, 3GB DDR3, 3GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2, 512MB x 2), 750GB Seagate 7200.11 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows 7 32-bit. Graphics Card: Radeon HD 5770, ATI Catalyst 10.1

Memory

With a minimum of 2GB of RAM, BioShock 2 ran as smoothly as silk. An extra GB of RAM didn't do much for performance.

System Setup: Intel Core i7-960, Intel DX58S0, 750GB Seagate 7200.11 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows 7 32-bit. Graphics Card: GeForce 280 GTX, Nvidia Forceware 196.21

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Discussion

156 comments
chriss000
chriss000

This game actually runs well on a £20 second hand 7600gt unclocked/standard model at crt res,, but the recommended cpu min of E6420 /2.1gig is probably a touch low. My E6600 even at 2.7 gig (the max o/c 300*9 my foxcon board will allow) will run it smooth.but in vista the task manager shows 100% constant cpu load. If i leave anything open while playing this game, it crashes. its not ram related as tm also shows max of 1.8 gig. There is no headroom at all. 59celcius both cores on stock cooler. If I were to make a recommendation as to the ideal cpu I would say an E7400. And not vista. that would probably give the cores a bit of breathing space. I played the original game on a 1core 3.33 celery o/c'd to 3.7 and it ran Poorly! the idea of running this later version on a single core is amusing in that 2k want everyone to buy it. you dont need a costly gpu! but a board and chip second hand off ebay should only smart the wallet by £90. there are other options(some will know) but xp licences available ebay £25.How that stacks against the price of a console I leave you all to do the math.

Darksonic666
Darksonic666

I just tested it out on my system and it ran okay not terrible and I guess I can keep tweaking to get the best framerates

wiidominance
wiidominance

hey i wonder if this game will run on this rig ? Mobo: p7p55d Asus Cpu: i5-750 intel GPu: Radeon 5870 Ram: 4 gb DDr3 1600 mhz low - mid maybe ? :S

badiie05
badiie05

Dang i need a new pc, hate it how theres always higher requirements when you think you have the highest hardware standards already

Onetwoindo
Onetwoindo

its true pc game need to rebuilt over and over just to keep a fps at high level and it cost much...but pc game have cheap games bro

erish30
erish30

My computer is 5 years old now and I run on sh*t settings using Intel pentium 4 3.20GHz 1.5 gb ram nividia Geforce 8400 gs Windows Xp 32 But still it runs and its under minimum specs

zafarsher
zafarsher

man- PC dies after a year and so....but consoles lives 5 years plus.....in PC have to upgrade RAM ...sometimes GPU and if crysis like games come have to switch over for CPU also and that means a motherboard too....so i play consoles now....along with superb online experience...but strategy games are always fun on PC..dam...

Akijo
Akijo

Im using XBox 360... cuzz my PC is like... soooooo dead xD

Trogeton
Trogeton

I found this game not as good as it was brought up to be.. like I don't find that the game play was much different then the 1st one at all

Gamerz1569
Gamerz1569

"Intel i5-9750, Intel DX58S0, 3GB DDR3, 750GB Seagate 7200.11 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows 7 32-bit. Graphics Card: Radeon HD 5770," I wasn't aware an Intel i5 and HD 5770 was 'mid'-range :?

GBPackersrule
GBPackersrule

"CPU: Intel Q6600 (rev. B3) @ 2.6Ghz (slightly OCed) RAM: 5GB DDR2 (2x2GB+2x512MB) VGA: GF8800GTX (factory OC'ed) HDD: 2x160GB, 640GB (all Samsung) OS: Windows 7 Ultimate x64" Oh yeah well my rig blows that out of the water! I am rocking an AMD 2200 with 480 MB of RAM! *cries*

Mercenario_AR
Mercenario_AR

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

romanodj
romanodj

same here, hd 4850 running smoothly with phenom II x3 720 @3.4Ghz, 2x 2gb 800, all maxed settings at 1920 x 1080.

Kulcan
Kulcan

@ViperAnaf I have an ATi HD 4850 video card also and runs so smoothly , no problems here . Solid 60 fps and maxed settings at 14400x900 . My machine : AMD Phenom II x4 955 @ 3.8 Ghz , 4 Gb DDR2 . It's weird because even my old AMD Phenom x4 9550 @ 2.5 Ghz can run this game just fine.

XenoLair
XenoLair

I run it on high quality on this rig: Xbox 360 ^^

Compuse
Compuse

Would be more fun to brag about your 5 year old, budget-rig, able running Bioshock2 :P

WarLokk1980
WarLokk1980

My PC runs Bioshock 2 fine all on max settings: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9400 @ 2.66 GHz NVIDIA GeForce 9800GT 1024 MB GDDR3 Kingston HyperX 4 GB DDR2 RAM Realtek HD Audio 500 GB SATA2 HDD

vous_morte
vous_morte

Huh??? The given specs are SERIOUSLY off if they are supposed to be based off old hardware. They are erroneous anyway. Editors need to show us where to get this "Modern Mid-Range" System, and how much it will cost us. Most older systems are either WinXP or Vista, NOT Win7 also. Ignore AMD CPUs??? Makes this piece look more like an ad for Intel than any REAL help.

Scritty
Scritty

Mid range isn't "Core I7-anything". All of those would be classed as high range. Yes he did cock up the descriptions, but mid range here would not be any processor less than 18 months old, or equivalent to say a 6600. Low end predates even the migration of coreduo from laptops. End of the day, they should have go tthe descriptions right in a piece like this though. Games yet another dull shooter (I make it first person shooter number 27,462) so who cares anyway?

blackwellnik
blackwellnik

Okay, this article is about what spec to have, right? Well how come the idiot who wrote the modern mid-range system specs got them so completely wrong. It's either a Core i5 750 or a Core i7 975, there ain't no such thing as a Core i5 9750. A Core i5 750 is commonly taken as being mid-range, upper mid-range I'd say, but that might be because I've got one. Thing is the i5-750 uses dual-channel, not triple channel memory, and none of the triple channel Core i7's can reasonable be called mid-range. So we're left with a completely useless article, as by this point I'm suspicious that it wasn't even written by an intelligent person. FAIL

60spaure
60spaure

I'm getting it for the PS3: I won't have to worry about those hardware issues and my computer could not run it even if upgraded anyway. :)

maco76
maco76

What about AMD ?

assclip
assclip

havent tried it yet but should have a problem running the game, i7 oced 3.8 6gig ddr3 x58 board with 4870 and 4890 crossifre and just installed xfi fatality x 7.1 it would be running on samsung 46 120hz 1080p

Jd1680a
Jd1680a

Just bought Bioshock 2, cant wait to play it.

uberjannie
uberjannie

Oh, and the reason i5 and i7 performs the same in this test is basically because you didn't feed it enough memory to let the cpu feast on its hyper threading and its 3 memory lanes. 6Gb is the recommended spec for an i7. But then you would have had to upgrade to 64bit, like ANY decent pc should run on anyways.

uberjannie
uberjannie

Interesting that you look at a 32bit OS as a modern mid-range system. 32bit thwarts the system. Both in architect and limitations.

bloodnumber
bloodnumber

why is there no controller support for this game? it pisses me off! The first bioshock had it. I have a freakin 32 inch screen i wanna play on my couch!

bloodnumber
bloodnumber

why would anyone buy alienware when you can build your own computer for half the price?

IbnLaAhad
IbnLaAhad

Gamespot recommended typo...

SolidSnakeJT
SolidSnakeJT

seriously Bodymaster989, why did you buy an overpriced pc? alienware are ridiculously expensive and are not worth it.

bodymaster989
bodymaster989

Pretty sure my Alienware M17 with crossfire will run it. LOL

GT_APE
GT_APE

Seriously, where the PHUCK is the REVIEW??? You're a GAME company Gamespot. You review longer games in a fraction of the time. What's the REAL REASON???

etchcorp
etchcorp

I run it on my machine, with following conf: CPU: Core 2 Duo E8600 3.33GHz, 6 Mb cache RAM: 4Gb DDR3 (bus 1066MHz) GPU: Nvidia GTX295, 1792Mb DDR3 OS: Win XP (Sp3) I have tested it on 1920x1080 (max resolution of my display) & it runs perfectly.

metalliod
metalliod

The game runs well on my system without any problems or lags on high quality at resolution (1280x1024).My system specs are: CPU: Intel Dual Core E5300 @2.60Ghz overclocked to 3.12Ghz Motherboard: ASUS P5KPL-AM-SE RAM: 2GB DDR2 (800mhz) GPU: XFX ATi Radeon HD4650 1GB OS: Windows XP (SP 3) I haven't checked the Framerates because the game is running well so i thought not to bother checking.I will soon install Windows 7 so that i can play it on DirectX10 because it looks good on that now.

ddscentral
ddscentral

This runs fine on my system at max resolution (1920x1200). I didn't measure the FPS (too lazy to install Fraps) but it runs smoothly and does not lag. System (built Sept. 2007, later I added more RAM and HDD space): CPU: Intel Q6600 (rev. B3) @ 2.6Ghz (slightly OCed) RAM: 5GB DDR2 (2x2GB+2x512MB) VGA: GF8800GTX (factory OC'ed) HDD: 2x160GB, 640GB (all Samsung) OS: Windows 7 Ultimate x64 Unreal Engine 2.5 - 3.0 based games don't need the latest hardware to run smoothly at max settings. All UE2.5 and UE3.0 based games which I have played run fine on my system at max settings even at high resolutions (1920x1200). Even on my secondary system (Athlon II x2 240 and ATI HD4670, 2GB RAM) the first Bioshock runs fine at 1440x900. I haven't tried Bioshock 2 on this system though.

enciem
enciem

@laktobran Coz it's an article about system requirements you prat. The idea is to say what you've got and if it runs well.

laktobran
laktobran

Why all the people say i have this i have that that is lame

Middy148
Middy148

Thanks for the info, my machine is only 18 months old so it should handle the game ok.

Compuse
Compuse

They aren't talking about System shock =/

solatron
solatron

I have a cyrix III processor running at 1000MHz, s3 trio video card and 16MB SDRAM and 10GB HDD. The game runs perfectly!

kuchiki-ness
kuchiki-ness

i have a GTX285, 4gb ram, 2.6GHZ core 2Quad(need to change procesor) and it runs smoothly at 60fps with vsync at 1080p ;) qithout vsync at 80 and 100 min 70fps, i hoped to be more stunning graphics but, meh i loved the first one more and this do his job :)

Compuse
Compuse

One of the best optimized games of his time; 20 to 35FPS = C2D T6400 @ 2.0ghz with his 9600M GT at max 1366*768 35 to 60FPS = i7-720QM with his 5850 at Max 1920*1080 Not bad for a laptop, for such a good looking game that is! :)

DavidFry1
DavidFry1

I had a geforce 7800 gtx in my last computer with an Athlon 64 4000+. It ran the original Bioshock o.k. but only at 1024 x 768. I am hoping to getg a system with a ATI 5770 graphics card. It just shows you how fast technology moves. If you have an older computer it probably wont run this game very good. I don't like to upgrade and get new computers all the time. But if you like to play the newest games you have to buy the hardware that will work best to have all the bells and whistles on while playing the new games.

peter8638
peter8638

I've got a Geforce 8600 GT, 3 Gb memory and an AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 4400+ (2 CPUs), ~2.3GHz, and bioshock 1 and 2 have the same hickups, no matter if I play it on the highest or lowest setting. And I play on a screen with 1024 x 768 pixels!

vandal_galm
vandal_galm

The purpose of the article was to provide some knowledge to those running less than perfect systems in order for them to know whether they met the "true" minimum requirements. Of course if Jesus Christ came down and blessed your metal box with crossfire crystals and ASUS bumper stickers, you probably don't need to be concerned with a game that isn't graphically intense. Nor do you need to spread the word about your JC crystals with comments like "Think my $5,000 system can handle it?" Now don't get me wrong, I'm not jealous. I just find it terribly obnoxious when people whip out their pc privates in a "subtle manner," pretending to be concerned about whether it "measures up." And word to the Commodore 64 Guy. Load, "*", 8, 1

Rayjingstorm
Rayjingstorm

I have some problems with this game, but i am not going to upgrade just to play it. All i had to do to get this game working, is lower the graphics resolution (and some of the settings) and take out most of the Bink videos. Awesome game, hope some mod tools come out soon!

ViperAnaf
ViperAnaf

I dont get it iv got xfx 4850 512mb 4gb ddr2 amd x2 6400+ when i look around with the mouse its smooth smooth then its like the mouse move with bigger jumps and the smooth smooth i thought 4850 should run it super smooth

jurassic1024
jurassic1024

Q6600 @ 3.2GHz 1:1 P5K-E Sapphire 4830 @ 700/1050 4GB DDR2 800 Patriot LL @ 4-4-4-10 1T ---------------------------------------------------------- I want two 5770's in Crossfiya!

kill4kicks
kill4kicks

Game ran great. fps thru the roof intel core2duo e8400@3.6 evga gtx260stock 2gb corsairdominator@1066 evga 750i FTW mobo corsair 850w psu sb xtreme gmer