It's now been two months since Half Life 2's release and much to everyone's surprise, the game was far from a GPU hog. The more powerful your graphics card, the better everything looked and the smoother everything ran, but even people with GeForce4 MXs are able to enjoy Valve's long awaited masterpiece.

Immediately upon its release we looked closely at the impacts of GPUs on Half Life 2 performance in Parts I and II of our Half Life 2 coverage. Part I focused on the performance of High End DirectX 9 class GPUs, while Part II focused on mid-range GPUs as well as the previous generation of DirectX 8 class GPUs.

The one area we had not covered up to this point was the impact of CPUs on Half Life 2 performance. In a 3D game, the CPU is responsible mainly for the physics of the environment as well as the artificial intelligence of the NPC elements of the game. There is also a good deal of graphics driver overhead that taxes the CPU, and thus with more complicated games we get higher dependencies on fast CPUs.

Half Life 2 was an intriguing case in itself simply because the game boasted the most sophisticated physics engines that had been seen in a game to date. Elements of the game such as the gravity gun would prove to be extremely taxing on your CPU. In fact, we found that even the fastest $500+ video cards can still be CPU bound in Half Life 2 at normally GPU limited resolutions.

Although much delayed, today we are able to bring you the third and final part of our Half Life 2 coverage focusing entirely on CPU performance as it relates to graphics performance in Half Life 2. After all, a $500 graphics card is worthless if it is bound by a slow CPU.

All of the tests in this article use the same test beds and testing methodology as our first two Half Life 2 articles. You can download all of the demos used in this article here.

We apologize for the delay in the publication of this article, but as often the case, we get busy and things such as this article get postponed and postponed. Rather than shelve it, we decided to publish it - better late than never. Now on to the benchmarks...

AMD vs. Intel Performance
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  • Phantronius - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    #3

    NF4 will not be supporting AGP bud, sorry, its PCI-E from here on out.
    Reply
  • Ozz1113 - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    Ill backup the thought of putting some T-bred cores in there. My OC'd XP2600 333 w\ modded 9500 radeon system ran HL2 very well. I would have liked it to have been better, but it is not worth upgrading yet. Reply
  • Araemo - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    Hehehe.. I'll fifteenth the "Please include an AXP3200+" sentiment. Personally, I'd rather see one or two AXPs included than a complete list of athlon64s.. You can generally extrapolate the performance of a given CPU if you are given two other CPUs with the same cache/FSB/core. I know that my Mobile barton handled the game fine, but I'd like to know how far behind a cheap A64 it really is. Reply
  • miketheidiot - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    "Our standard 2-2-2-10 memory does actually offer reasonable performance benefits in Half Life 2 compared to DDR400 with higher timings such as 3-3-3-10 or the unrealistically high 3-6-6-10."

    Reasonable performance benefits? decent 2.5-3-3-10 ram can be found cheap nowdays (http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?desc... and compared to the oczrev2 and other $200+ modules is at least $60 cheaper, in some case as much as $100 cheaper. The 2-2-2 is only 2% faster than the 3-3-3, so does that extra $60+ really offer "reasonable performance benefits"?
    Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    #13... I wouldn't call that an error, I'd call that a difference in opinion. :) Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    There seems to be an error on page 4- "Almost all DDR400 these days is CAS 2 memory, but older memory may have a higher CAS latency..."

    Shouldn't it say "Almost all DDR400 tested by AnandTech is premium CAS 2 memory, but CAS 2.5 and CAS 3 are more common..."
    Reply
  • Aquila76 - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    What about SLI configs? I think people looking SLI for an option may want a better idea how their CPU choice affects the dual GPU choice. Can you add SLI'd 6600GT, 6800GT, 6800 Ultra benches to the tables at the end of your article? Reply
  • Tiamat - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    Yeah, although probably unrealistic, tossing AXP's into a "low end range" comparison along side would help some people. Overall, great article! Reply
  • Regs - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    I liked the Ram latency and 64-bit/128-bit test. But I'm wondering how would 2.5 Cas would perform? Makes sense to list it since a lot of value named brand ram modules come with 2.5 CAS. I would think it would perform in-between the two, but I'm having the slightest inkling that 2.5 CAS and 2.0 CAS will perform the same.


    Can't wait to hear about multithreaded games for dual core CPUs.
    Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    Well we can look at the other HL2 articles cause there's an XP3200 in those... but... this being a CPU oriented article I thought it would be nice to have that CPU included. Possibly even an XP3000 so we can get an idea for how it scales so I can estimate how my 2.48 GHz Mobile AXP compares. Reply

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