Call of Duty 4 Hardware Performance Guide

Find out how Call of Duty 4 runs on our stable of hardware and what we did to improve frame rates.

Call of Duty 4 leaves the oft-played battlefields of World War II behind and enters the modern age. The game takes place in current hot spots around the world, rendering the ravaged landscapes with the right amount of grit and a great amount of reality. You wouldn't expect a game that looks as good as Call of Duty 4 to run well without the best hardware, but the developers made the game accessible on a broad range of computers. Call of Duty 4 still manages to look decent even at its lowest quality settings. However, multiplayer battles--the likes of which Call of Duty 4 is famous for--will tax even the best of computers. The key to making Call of Duty 4 run really well is to upgrade evenly across all the major component classes and to select the appropriate settings.

We used FRAPs and the opening sequence of The Bog mission to measure frame rates in our benchmark tests. The Bog takes place on a war-torn stretch of road with flaming wrecks, flares flying through the sky, and scores of friendly units charging. Occasionally, those friendly units are also taking cover from a substantial amount of enemy fire. The intense map acts well as a worst-case test scenario for how the game might perform.

Game Settings
Call of Duty 4 allows you to pick and choose from a host of options. We identified three guaranteed frame rate killers; two of which, you can probably live without.

Graphics
You can run Call of Duty 4 on a GeForce 6800, but it just won't look or play all that great. We tested more than 20 video cards to help you figure out what GPU best matches your budget and performance needs.

CPU
Ditch the single-core processor. Call of Duty 4 requires a dual-core processor to run well. We tested three different kinds of Intel processors and three AMD processors to help you decide what's enough versus what's overkill.

Memory
The Call of Duty 4 system requirements state that the game only requires 512MB of RAM to run, but you're going to have to turn down all the settings to get the game to run well with that little memory. A bump up to 1GB of RAM solves most of the problems, but we went ahead and checked out what upgrading to 2GB, or even 3GB of RAM, can do for performance.

Systems

We put together a few sample systems to show how the game performed using real-world computers. Our slowest machine, a 3.0GHz Pentium 4 paired with a GeForce 6800, choked out a barely playable result at the lowest quality settings and ran a slide show at the pace of one frame every 10 seconds when we tried increasing the settings. Our single-core AMD Athlon 64 4000+ paired with a Radeon X1650 XT performed surprisingly well at the highest quality settings, but we did have to relax a few of them to get the system to play nicely. The dual-core AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 paired with the Radeon X1900 XT 256MB ran the game at a more than playable frame rate with maximum quality. Both of our Intel Core 2 rigs ran the game just fine and could handle even higher resolution, as well as antialiasing settings.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 X6800, Intel Core 2 E6600, Intel 975XBX2, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2), 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows Vista. Graphics Card: GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB, XFX GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB XXX Edition, beta Nvidia ForceWare 169.21.

Athlon 64 FX-60, Athlon 64 4000+, Asus A8R32 MVP Deluxe, 1GB Corsair XMS Memory (512MB x 2), 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2. Graphics Card:Radeon X1900 XT 256MB, Radeon X1650 XT 256MB, ATI Catalyst 7.11.

Intel Pentium 4 2.4GHz, Asus P4C800, 1GB Corsair XMS Memory (512MB x 2), 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2. Graphics Card: GeForce 6800 128MB, beta Nvidia ForceWare 169.09.

Game Settings

Call of Duty 4 has many settings you can toy around with to improve performance. Shadows, as usual, take a heavy toll on performance. The other two settings that sap performance are softened smoke edges and specular maps. These three settings are the surefire performance killers. We recommend ditching softened smoke edges to reclaim a decent amount of performance because the visual difference is rather subtle. Call of Duty 4 isn't a game like F.E.A.R. or Doom 3 where disabling shadows ruins the game, so feel free to disable the setting if you need a few more frames. Specular maps, on the other hand, really help make the game pop, and as such, we'd leave the setting enabled unless you're trying to squeeze out every last frame. You can see how specular maps affect image quality in our image comparisons on the next page.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 X6800, Intel 975XBX2 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GBx2), 750GB Seagate 7200.10 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2. Graphics Card: GeForce 8800 GT 512MB, Nvidia ForceWare 169.09.

Image Comparison

Mouse over each caption to change images.

Shadow Quality

Enabled Disabled

Specular Map

Enabled Disabled

Texture Quality

Extra High Normal Low

Soften Smoke Edges

Enabled Disabled

Video Cards

Call of Duty 4 will run on a lot of older video cards, but a GPU upgrade will go a long way if you're looking for more performance. Frame rates increase as you give the game more video card power. It's a straight game of how much you're willing to spend.

Windows Vista suffers in comparison to Windows XP. The ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT and the Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX took a 15 percent performance hit when we made the switch from Windows XP to Windows Vista.

Written By

Want the latest news about Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare?

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Discussion

458 comments
jiraiya89
jiraiya89

Running 16gb dual channel corsair dominator ddr3, 120gb intel 520 series ssd, gtx 460 1gb and an intel i5 760 @ 2.66ghz. This game runs amazingly well at 60fps at max settings @ 1920x1080. Seeing how this game is almost 5 years old at this point my rig is a bit over kill. 

vaikepois
vaikepois

800x600, Minimum Quality Pentium 4 2.4GHz, GeForce 6800 128MB, 1GB RAM, WinXP 26 o.o? I could play with 1024x769(or 8 ) all off expect Ragdolls and Bullet impacts , texture high, audio high. With this system >> Win XP 1.25gb RAM 1.6ghz single core procesor Nvidia 8400gs lol xD and avarage fps was 30(25-40)

HaloFreeman
HaloFreeman

Will it run on an Nvidia GeForce 6200?? even if in low quality settings plz tell

aquaphx
aquaphx

thanks, it really helps rather than trying one by one option. this help much.

a_mop265
a_mop265

patriotsrule47 if you open up your case look at the power supply and there should be a sticker on it that should have all the info you could ever want about your power supply

burnteyeball
burnteyeball

Got 32fps on my hd3650512, 1gram, athlon643500+ Max settings.

tabovilla
tabovilla

I have a matrox parhelia and a PIII, will it run?

NnethKe
NnethKe

Run great on mine: 2.4GHz Core2Duo, 2GB RAM, nVidia 8600GT 1GB, Vista Ultimate, Samsung 22" widescreen flat panel.

patsy-cline
patsy-cline

Yeh it will run but not very fast, depends what you have with the card, what processor do you have?

Mingomya
Mingomya

I want to upgrade my video card and was wondering about this card" EVGA GeForce 8500 GT Video Card - 1GB GDDR2, PCI Express, SLI Ready, (Dual Link) DVI, VGA, HDTV Anyone run COD4 with it? Or even just your opinion would be appreciated.

hash94
hash94

i have intel core 2 duo e 4400 , 1 gb ram and nvidia geforce 8500GT (512mb) with 1024x768 display. will it run?

pium
pium

i have a window 95 and no graphic card... will it run?? no, i´m just kidding. XD

s4ms4m
s4ms4m

I have P4 2.8 ghz,Fx5200 & 512 MB ram...Will it run?

gokazz
gokazz

i have a AMD semprom 2600+ 1.83 ghz single core 1.25gb ram nvidia geforce 7600gt256ram and runs for me at 45-75 fps on high textures and on 1280x1024.im not joking @happygilomre14 you will be able to max evrything @ramziaj read about gilmore

ramziaj
ramziaj

My Pc is : -Win Xp -AMD Athlon 64 Processor 3000 + -1gb Of RAM -Radeon X1650 XT 256MB able to run it ? thx

vishawn
vishawn

How would a Radeon HD 4850 on a regular PCI Express slot run this game?

sahanbull
sahanbull

well what about the directX spec in win XP test....... 10 most probably,,

patriotsrule47
patriotsrule47

How do you check how many watts your computer power supply has.

happygilmore14
happygilmore14

Processor: Intel(R) Pentium(R) D CPU 3.00GHz (2 CPUs) Memory: 2046MB RAM Card name: NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500 tis is wat i have runnig but the game is pretty dark any help?

happygilmore14
happygilmore14

im looking for help.im wondering is a NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500 any good in what way does it compare to the above cards?

OMGitsZAL
OMGitsZAL

I expected commands that take away FPS but are not necessary to be turned on. This was a let down. :/ Seriously though, all they have told us is better cards and lower settings make the FPS faster! Which any PC Gamer should know...

nltacderas
nltacderas

i have a windows 95..can it run on mine?

gargarensi
gargarensi

I'm pretty confident that my rig can run this smoothly - Corsair 4 GB DDR2 RAM - XFX Geforce 8600 GT 256 MB XXX - Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600@2.4 ghz - 320 GB SATA HD

anamnawshad
anamnawshad

My PC is P4 3.0Ghz HT XFX GeForce 8600GT 512MB 1GB DDR1 RAM CoD-4 runs smooth with some minor slowdown when large battles take place. I'll disable 'Soften Smoke edges' and 'Shadows' to see if it runs better....

division_9
division_9

Thank you gamespot for once again telling us lowering graphical settings improves ingame performance and because of that I'm going to read a gamespot performance guide everytime I buy a new game. Isn't that great!.

snake15545
snake15545

@ thenephariouson , umm this is a guide for the computer dip_sh1t

el_carl
el_carl

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Jose_yero
Jose_yero

thanks gamespot like ur help :D ceep it up

Armandm3
Armandm3

I need to change my Graphic card to play the game that very annoying... I have an onboard one and is **** a lot. Need an Geforce 8 series but cost a lot in my Country...

91987
91987

to mihailov1 yeah and to say the truth thats pretty much my laptop right there except mine has 2gb ram instead of 3 i also got vista which solws most hings down.... alot i can run it idk how high though bc im more of a frame enthusiast on my laptop..... and usually im also runna virus scan or 2..... stupid trojans

mihailov1
mihailov1

any chance a pc with AMD athlon 64x2 Dual core 5600+, 3072mb of memory, and nvidia geforce 6150 se be able to run COD 4?

91987
91987

man im building a computer right now and im glad to know that i can play COD4 on high or even max if i want... whew thats a relief well heres whats in this rig Mother board Intel DX38BT Processor Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700 Processor 2.66ghz Processor cooler Masscool Socket 775 CPU Cooling Fan RAM memory Ultra 2048MB Dual Channel PC6400 DDR2 800MHz Memory (2 x 1024MB) 4 GB Total Graphics card x2 Two (2) ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro PCIe 2 x 256MB Hard drive x2 Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 320GB Hard drive cooler x2 Thermaltake A2476 TMG HD1 3.5" hard drive cooler Sound card Creative Labs Sound Blaster Audigy SE Case Apevia Black/Black X-Plorer ATX Mid-Tower Case Power supply PowerUp GEN-6803 800-Watt Power Supply and yeah this is lookin really good as of now but i know that it wont be all that great in around 6 months- but im happy right now!!

stinger2404
stinger2404

i got a dell inspiron 9300 with A centrino 1.73ghz ,1gb ddr2 and a 64mb ati mobility x300 and i can run COD4 on 640x480 at 29fps

pukmok
pukmok

PC specs 2.4 dual core X1950Pro 256MB 2GB RAM 550 Watt PSU Max settings 1280x1024 2AA

kuwakcai
kuwakcai

My PC Specs: Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition 32bit Intel Core 2 Due E8400 3.00ghz 4GB Corsair XMS2 800 (XP Home 32bit only Supports 3.50gb Ram) Asus Nvidia GeForce 8800GT 512MB 500GB HD Cooler Master 550 Watt PowerSupply High Settings Perfect, no Problem at all and very satisfied

nickkcin10
nickkcin10

i play in full 1080p HD *cough* on the ps3 *cough* *cough*

Freddiegree0
Freddiegree0

My current specs: WinXP Pentium 4 3.00GHZ with HT 1GB DDR2 8600GT 256MB DDR3 Heck, if Bioshock managed to run at 15+ FPS on my previous 6200SE card, then I dont see why COD4 shouldnt run on atleast medium settings :P EDIT: I would be able to run the game on medium..........right? :confused:

alnamesareinuse
alnamesareinuse

i got a old system a 3.0ghz cpu 256mb 9600 radeon atlantis card and only 512mb but i play 1280-1024 multiplayer and i dont have any lag but SP i run it 1024-786 with a little lag spike now and then

halo1lover
halo1lover

my friend has cod4 i wish i could get it. it is a awesome game.

shannon87
shannon87

i play at 1024*768, 2*aa,shadows disabled 512mb 8600gt, 2gb ram, xp i get an awesome framerate and even at these settings the game looks fantastic bravo

Mister__
Mister__

I simply crashed my computer when I tried to play that game in the maximum quality

STERE_Mihai
STERE_Mihai

I played this game after playing Crysis and I think it looks awful

Duston15
Duston15

I am running and older system. (2.8 ghz p4 w/ HT , 768 mb RAM (PC 2700), AGP 4x running 256 mb ATI 9600 pro, XP pro SP2, 20 gb WD 7200 rpm & 300 gb WD harddrives.) and i can run the demo 600 x 480 with settings low or off and get solid 20-30 fps

budiy33
budiy33

I run perfectly on my hd 2600pro but I have a plan to change it with Ge force 9600 gt or Hd 3870 Any suggestion