Half Life 2 CPU Performance

by Anand Lal Shimpi on 1/26/2005 7:57 AM EST
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  • dderidex - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    Quick question...

    On the 'cache comparison' on page 5, where they compare an A64 with 1mb cache to an A64 with 512k cache...

    What CPUs are they comparing?

    512k Socket 754 (single channel)
    vs
    1mb Socket 754 (single channel

    or

    512k Socket 939 (dual channel)
    vs
    1mb Socket 939 (dual channel)

    or

    512k Socket 754 (single channel)
    vs
    1mb Socket 939 (dual channel)

    etc.

    No info is provided, so it's hard to really say what the numbers are showing.
    Reply
  • doughtree - Tuesday, September 06, 2005 - link

    great article, next game you should do is battlefield 2! Reply
  • dsorrent - Monday, January 31, 2005 - link

    How come in all of the CPU comparisons, the AMD FX-53 is left out of the comparisons? Reply
  • PsharkJF - Monday, January 31, 2005 - link

    That has no bearing to half-life. Nice job, fanboy. Reply
  • levicki - Saturday, January 29, 2005 - link

    Btw, I have Pentium 4 520 and 6600 GT card and I prefer that combo over AMD+ATI anytime. I had a chance to work on AMD and I didn't like it -- no hyperthreading = bad feeling when working with few things at once. With my P4 I can compress DVD to DivX and play Need For Speed Underground 2 without a hitch. I had ATI (Sapphire 9600 Pro) and didn't like that crap too especially when OpenGL and drivers are concerned = too much crashing.
    Intel .vs. AMD -- people can argue for ages about that but my 2 cents are that musicians using Pentium 4 with HT get 0.67 ms latency with latest beta kX drivers for Creative cards and AMD owners get close to 5.8 ms. From a developer point of view Intel is much better choice too due to great support, compiler and documentation. So my next CPU will be LGA775 with EM64T (I already have a compatible mainboard) and not AMD which by the way has troubles with Winchester cores failing Prime 95 at stock speed.
    Reply
  • Carfax - Saturday, January 29, 2005 - link

    Yeah, developers are so lazy that they will still use x87 for FP rather than SSE2, knowing that the latter will give better performance.

    Thats why the new 64-bit OS from MSoft will be a good thing. It will force developers to use SSE2/SSE3, because they have access to twice as many registers and the OS itself won't recognize x87 for 64-bit operations.
    Reply
  • Barneyk - Saturday, January 29, 2005 - link

    I would've liked to se some benchmarks on older CPUs to, kinda dissapointed... Reply
  • levicki - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    I just wonder how would this test look like if it was made with 6800 Ultra instead with ATI X850 XT.

    Disabling SSE/SSE2 on Athlon and getting the same results as if they were enabled means that game is NOT OPTIMIZED. Using FPU math instead of SSE/SSE2 today is a sin. It could have been 3-4 times faster if they cared about optimizing the code.
    Reply
  • Phantronius - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    #53

    Its because the Prescotts wern't better then the Northwoods to begin with, hence why don't see squat performance differences between them.
    Reply
  • maestroH - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    Thx for your reply #56. Apologies for false '@9700pro' statement. Meant to say 'soft-modded with Omega driver to 9700pro'. Cheers. Reply
  • zhangping0233 - Thursday, January 05, 2012 - link

    Nice job, If you need any flashlight, pls contact Xecconlight.com feel free. Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    by the way, you can't mod a 9500Pro to a 9700Pro, the 9500Pro circuit-board only has a 128-bit memory-bus and there's no way you can change it to 256-bit. Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    #55- the cut-off point where you can't really tell the difference of a higher framerate, is when the framerate exceeds the monitor refresh rate.

    If your monitor is updating the display 85 times per second (a common setting for cheaper CRT displays), then a *minimum* framerate of higher than 85fps makes no difference. With flat-panels, refresh-rates of 60-75hz are more common so you don't even need to maintain 85fps. A faster graphics-card is still worthwhile though as it allows you to crank up AA and Aniso settings (8x anti-aliasing is lovely).
    Reply
  • maestroH - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    Coming from the recent dark age of a P4 1.7/9500Pro(@9700Pro) combi, this is great article to decide on my new machine. Although HL2 is playing quite nicely, I am lucky to have a one-off opportunity to buy myself a FX-55/X800XT combi.
    Never having experienced even any fps close to what's on these charts, something in the back of my mind keeps saying that a 10-20 fps more when you are already over 100 fps, will make no difference to the experience except a bigger hole in my wallet. Can anyone tell me where the 'cut-off' point is where even the most discerning of gamers cannot see/feel the difference? Knowing that dual core is coming up (even though games for them still need to be made), would buying a 3500+ be smarter or should I go for the FX-55 simply because I can (only this once)? Thx Anand for the article.
    Reply
  • essjae - Thursday, January 27, 2005 - link

    Those graphs look nice, but they don't really mean much. Based on similar graphs and results I just bought a a64-4000+ and MSI Neo2 Platinum to replace my P4-3.2GHz and Asus P4c-800E.

    With the same ATI X800XT Platinum, memory, and hard drives, I can't see any difference between then, in fact, the P4 seemed to play smoother.

    Do I have any proof, no, other than playing half-life 2 on my p4 was more enjoyable.
    Reply
  • Spacecomber - Thursday, January 27, 2005 - link

    Can anyone offer some insight into why the extreme edition northwoods did as poorly as they did? The 3.2GHz EE could barely keep up with the 3.0GHz Prescott; so, it's more than the raw clock speed of the high end Prescotts.

    Could it be related to running the Northwood on a platform really intended for Prescotts?

    Space
    Reply
  • mixpix - Thursday, January 27, 2005 - link

    Awesome article. It was exactly what I've been looking for. My 2600+ is not cutting it with my 6600GT AGP and I was thinking it was the CPU that was limiting preformance. Reply
  • TheCanuck - Thursday, January 27, 2005 - link

    Firing Squad did a review on the Athlon XP performance with HL2 a while ago:

    http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/half-life_2_at...

    The 3200+ XP got about 95fps in the Canals_09 demo at 1280x1024 with an X800 XT PE. Not sure how well it compares to the Canals_08 that Anandtech uses, but I doubt the difference would be that great.
    Reply
  • Guspaz - Thursday, January 27, 2005 - link

    I'm very dissapointed with this article. I have been eagerly awaiting it for ages, expecting to see how Half-Life 2 scales down to lower speed processors; I've long maintained that low end processors like an AthlonXP 1900+, run the game quite poorly.

    The big deal with HL2 is that it was supposed to run on much older computers. But nobody seems to have benchmarked it on anything but pretty new hardware. I expected that a CPU scaling article would cover that, in fact I thought that was the entire point.
    Reply
  • Visual - Thursday, January 27, 2005 - link

    i'd be curious to see normal 6600, as well as maybe some lower-end ati card in the comparison :)
    ok ok, i know this isn't a GPU shootout, but still...
    Reply
  • drinkmorejava - Thursday, January 27, 2005 - link

    When they test the Athlon 64 3400+, is it the 1meg clawhammer or the 512k newcastle. In comparisons with my friend who has a lousy newcastle with dual channel, he is always thoroughly beaten by my clawhammer. Reply
  • drinkmorejava - Thursday, January 27, 2005 - link

    Reply
  • Zebo - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    I wish y'all would do an expo of A64's incredible "feels faster" syndrome to to it's 1/3rd mem latency of all other platforms.
    Reply
  • bob661 - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    #44
    Where can you buy it? Especially when MSI's website makes no mention of this.
    Reply
  • Dranzerk - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    #43

    Yes that is feature feature. MSI offers it, never saw it reviewed though.
    Reply
  • miketheidiot - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    #40, 42, their was talk a while back about a PCIe to agp adaptor. Not sure what happened with it though. Reply
  • bob661 - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    #39
    The MSI board has no such feature. It would require a different MCP to get AGP to work or using one of the PCI slots to do it (which wouldn't be AGP).
    Reply
  • bob661 - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    #20
    I have some OCZ CAS3 DDR400 ram in my system. 7 months ago it was considered premium ram (it's EB3500).
    Reply
  • Aquila76 - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    #39 - WTF are you talking about? nForce 4 is only PCIe. What page are you looking at? I went through MSI's site and nothing on the Neo4 page says anything about AGP. There is no AGP slot on the mobo either. If you clcik on 'Special Features' that is for the special features of all of MSI's products. Reply
  • Dranzerk - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    18 - Posted on Jan 26, 2005 at 12:35 PM by Phantronius said:
    "NF4 will not be supporting AGP bud, sorry, its PCI-E from here on out."

    It does with a addon card..
    http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Pr...

    MSI K8N neo4 Platnium NF4
    GO to manufactor website listed on speical features:
    Special Features:
    ATX Form Factor
    Supports Accelerated Graphic Port (AGP) Add-On Card

    AGP on a NF4 tata!

    :D
    Reply
  • Phantronius - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    If your gaming on a laptop, you need help. Reply
  • RockHydra11 - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    Was anyone surprised by the results, or didn't know what the answer would be already? I could make a very educated guess before I even clicked on the link. Reply
  • T8000 - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    This kind of CPU reviewing really makes me wonder if anyone plays with a $700 R850 XT-PE without anti-aliasing, anistrophic filtering and does so at 1280x1024.

    I mean, if that's all you want, why not save a cool $500 and buy a GF6600GT instead.

    It would be nice if someone reviewed CPU scaling at real gaming settings, because the 20% differences created here, may translate in only 5% with real settings, making it unnoticable during gameplay.
    Reply
  • Whiskyboy - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    I thought the artilce was a nice return to the feature for feature comparison that a shopper like myself really finds useful. I'm slighlty curious about upcoming technologies but I'm really disintereted in seeing how the brand new toy from AMD or Nvidia performs because I'm not going to suggest paying the ridiculous premiums they charge for the new junk. Seeing the effect that things like memory timings, bandwidth, cpu clock have on performance in a consistent platform make it easier for me to make recommendations to my customers for their systems. I like the Buyer's Guide articles, but in all honesty I want the charts that this article has. If you are suggesting that there should be more articles like this, I agree, but I'm not about to complain about the first article in months that actually made a useful shopper's comparison. Thanks Anand Reply
  • Marlowe - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    I would like to see the cpu scaling done with Intel cpu's too! :) Reply
  • Cybercat - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    The X850XT PE being a PCIe part, how did you use it on Socket 754 CPUs? I've not seen any Socket 754 NF4 boards yet. Reply
  • Aquila76 - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    #32 - Gamers buy PC's in orders of magnitude greater numbers than laptops. Maybe you can run Half-life 2 on your Intel Extreme Graphics, but that's nothing compared to gaming on an A64 with a decent video card and sound. Reply
  • jherber - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    where is the pentium m? MOST OF US BUY LAPTOPS THESE DAYS. Reply
  • REMF - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    roflmao:
    http://images.anandtech.com/graphs/half%20life%202...

    an Athlon64 3200+ @ 2.0GHz gets 112fps
    an Athlon64 3000+ @ 1.8GHz gets 104fps
    .'. an A64 3100+ @ 1.9GHz would get 108fps

    ...... the same as a P4 570 running at 3.8GHz, twice the speed!

    LOL
    Reply
  • bupkus - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    I'm glad to finally see this article. I've been waiting for weeks and beginning to think this article was just "vaporware". ;)

    As to the following quote:
    "If you are stuck with one of those older but still well-performing GPUs, don't bother upgrading your CPU unless it's something slower than a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 - you'd be much better served by waiting and upgrading to dual core later on."
    As this was just a tantalizing morsel of things to come, I'm looking forward to the coming weeks.
    Reply
  • Roooooooooooooooooot - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link


    Ommmmm ... yes, a very nice article :)

    More than any article I've seen, this one made the point about the power of AMD processors for 3D gaming.

    "Megahertz Shmegahertz" could have been the title. The 3.8 Pentium running neck and neck with a 2 GHz AMD CPU. Now I understand !!

    One place I worked had hundreds of Dell Workstations. They gave us dual xeon ultra-SCSI jobbies. It may not sound like much, but 2 1 GHz Xeon's with an 18 Gig U160 or was it 320 SCSI HDD and an ATI FireGL graphics card was what I had.

    I would love to see an article about corporate CAD machines, AMD vs. Intel with various scales of video cards.
    Reply
  • bamacre - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    1,000,001 demands for A XP benchies, how about one for high-end Northwood P4's ?? Please? Reply
  • AkumaX - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    I one MEELIONTH the motion, i wish there were a XP barton benchmark somewhere in there, not just w/ the XP3200 (2.2ghz) but also w/ 2.3ghz and 2.4ghz (since most of us appear to also be running o/ced mobiles :P) Reply
  • michael2k - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    What did you expect? People were demanding the HL2 CPU article in the Mac threads... and lo and behold, the next day, Anand has posted the HL2 CPU article.

    You can either get something now, or you can get something finished... very rarely can you get both :)
    Reply
  • Crassus - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    I was also quite surprised that the article still appeared. I'm glad it did, but I think it falls short of Anandtechs high standard:

    1. For comparison, at least two AXP (two to see how it scales) should be in the test field
    2. As previously mentioned, Processor/speed/cache/socket. There is more that just one Athlon 64 3000+
    3. Including CAS 2,5 would have been nice as this seems to be the default for people using mainstream DDR3200 RAM
    4. What's the deal with the Athlon 3500+ in diagramm 3 on page 2?

    Something else bothered me:
    Quote: "If you are stuck with one of those older but still well-performing GPUs, don't bother upgrading your CPU unless it's something slower than a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 - you'd be much better served by waiting and upgrading to dual core later on."
    Common wisdom seemed to be that especially games don't take advantage of multi-threading. Do you have any new information that upcoming games are geared more towards multiple CPUs/cores/HT?
    Reply
  • quanta - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    The test didn't show the impact of using partial precision vs full precision on NVIDIA cards. As some people have mentioned[1], Half-Life 2 doesn't need full 32-bit precision to run smoothly. In effect, NVIDIA card is running in speed crippled by the game's designers.

    [1] http://3dgpu.com/archives/2004/12/01/boost-perform...
    Reply
  • DavidHull - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    I second the need for SLI configurations to be included, as many reviewers have found them to be extremely limited by the CPU. Reply
  • AtaStrumf - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    Interactive 3D charts in flash. Khm,... can it be done? Reply
  • AtaStrumf - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    I was starting to think this article has been bined, but fortunately it wasn't.

    First of all I agree with the need for an AXP 3200+ in the charts. It's still a very, very common PCU!

    Secondly this is only an OK article by Anand's standards. The first thing that really bothered me was how the CPU's are marked by some very long but also very useless names, like

    AMD Athlon 64 3400+ (2.4 GHz)
    Intel Pentium 4 570 (3.8 GHz)

    This takes a lot of room on the carts but still tells me nothing about Cache size or Socket type. I suggest names like:

    A64 3400+/S754/512kB/2.4GHz (its shorter and says a lot more)
    Same thing for Intel: P4 570/Socket/Cache...


    And how in the hell did you come up with CAS3? Most DDR 400 RAM (excluding OEMs) is CAS 2,5 and not 3 or 2. I appreciate the memory tests very much though, I just regret the very basic mistake in the underlaying assumptions.

    I understand it was a low priority, seriously delayed article, but I just can't shake the feeling it could have been so much more.

    One of these days I'm gonna have to take some time and put together a demo of how data is properly presented.
    Reply
  • Questar - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    "Next let’s take a look at at_coast_05, another very GPU limited test that has a good deal of NPC interaction as well as GPU limiting elements:
    "

    How the hell could this be GPU limited if the difference from top to bottom of the graph is > 50%?
    Reply
  • 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
  • Avalon - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    Yep, I felt there should have been an Athlon XP in there, since many users are still running XPs, and many enthusiasts are running overclocked mobile bartons. I just assumed that an XP 3200+ would be equivalent to the 2.8ghz P4 they benched, and went from there. Reply
  • arfan - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    I think Half Life 2 is more friendly than DOOM3. We can play HL2 with old video card (entry level video card). But to play DOO3 we need mid range video card :( Reply
  • blckgrffn - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    Agreed, there are a lot of us that are still running our XPs. Hard to beat the bang for the buck on that platform, but just how much are we missing out? Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    Awesome article. Only thing I would have liked to see is an Athlon XP3200 (as outdated as it is) in the mix as well just to see where it would fall on the charts. Reply
  • acejj26 - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    Good to see Anand writing articles again. I get tired of seeing grammatical and spelling errors in articles written by some of the other guys here. Anand's articles are always well thought and just seem more professional. Good job. I also appreciated the Mac Mini article yesterday. Keep it up. Reply
  • Dranzerk - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    Good article, came out in the right time I was considering upgrading my ATI 9700 Pro/2.4ghz P4 to a athlon 64 or a 6600GT. Guess its the Nvidia 6600GT :D

    The only thing holding me back (others to) is the AGP vs PCIx deal, but with NF4 chipset with AGP it should be a no brainer now to just stick with old AGP card and have lot of life in it for time to come.
    Reply
  • George Powell - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    Awesome article. Made for a really good morning read.
    Reply
  • morcegovermelho - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link


    There is an error on page 2. The value for athlon 3500+ at_coast_12 is 11.58.

    Great article
    Reply

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