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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  • 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.
  • George Powell - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    Awesome article. Made for a really good morning read.
  • 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

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