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

    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.
  • 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


    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!

  • 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.

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