CPU Bound Gaming Performance

While we always try to run our gaming benchmarks in CPU reviews as a balance between being CPU and GPU bound, there is some merit to using CPU bound gaming scenarios as a true measure of the gaming power of a CPU. 

The previous pages of gaming benchmarks were run at 1600 x 1200, which struck a good balance between being CPU and GPU bound on our CrossFire setup but here we’re looking at exactly how good of a gaming CPU the Core 2 Duo is.  By running these tests at 640 x 480 with the same CrossFire setup as before we’re ensuring that the performance bottlenecks in these titles shift as far as possible from the GPU and onto the CPU. 

These tests aren’t designed to tell you how fast these CPUs are at running these games, but rather how quickly they can run through the physics and AI code when not waiting on the graphics card at all. 

We chose to look at two CPUs: the Core 2 Extreme X6800 and the Athlon 64 FX-62, to get an idea of how strong each architecture was at pure physics/AI processing in games.  We also omitted any games whose performance didn’t change by dropping the resolution from 1600 x 1200 to 640 x 480 (meaning that those games were already predominantly CPU limited in our previous tests). 

 CPU Quake 4 HL2 Ep 1 F.E.A.R.  BF2
AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 156.7 170.0 164.0 108.7
Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 192.5 263.5 236.0 142.3
Advantage (Intel) 22.8% 55.0% 43.9% 30.9%


In terms of sheer ability to process physics and AI as well as feed a hungry graphics subsystem, Intel's Core 2 Extreme X6800 is anywhere between 22 and 55% faster than AMD's Athlon 64 FX-62. 

While this doesn't mean much for real world gaming, it does cement the fact that Intel's Core 2 processor is significantly faster at the type of code current 3D games will throw at it.  The very same benchmarks that Intel used to complain about favoring AMD, now favor Intel just as much; oh how times have changed.

Gaming Performance using Oblivion Overclocking


View All Comments

  • defter - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Xbitlabs has a great E6300 review:

    Overclocking was limited by a motherboard, but they still managed to achieve 2.94GHz with 420MHz FSB, not bad from a <$200 chip. E6300@2.94GHz was way faster than Athlon64X2@3GHz.
  • Frackal - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    4ghz Conroe, holy shiat Reply
  • AndrewChang - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Loved the title, and loved the article. Can't wait till the Return of the Jedi... Reply
  • JackPack - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Jedi is considered to be weakest film of the three.... Reply
  • formulav8 - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Yeah, but the Emperor WAS overthrown. :)

    Anyways, good job on the review. Intel is definitely trying to almost GIVE those PD cpu's away it seems. $93? Not that I don't blame them. They would almost HAVE to give them away to get rid of them.

  • haugland - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Page 18:

    The 2.4GHz E6600, which outperformed the FX-62 in most benchmarks at stock speed costs $223, and overclocked to 4Ghz with excellent air cooling

    According to the prices on page 2, the price for the 2.4GHz E6600 is $316, while the 2.13Ghz E6400 costs $224.
  • mobutu - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    I quote:

    "The 2.4GHz E6600, which outperformed the FX-62 in most benchmarks at stock speed costs $223, and overclocked to 4Ghz with excellent air cooling"

    It costs $316 according to Intel charts. Please fix it.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Fixed (also for post below). Reply
  • mi1stormilst - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    I was like skimming throught the article and thinking to myself wow. Then I went back and looked at the benchmarks and realized that until I see benchmarks with a wider range of video card and cpus I will reserve my excitement. At the moment my $120.00 used 3200 venice running at 2600MHZ with an X1800XL gives me some very good performance. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    I http://www.anandtech.com/guides/showdoc.aspx?i=279...">looked at performance with several CPUs using a 7600 GT (slower than X1800XL, but not by a huge amount). Basically, on lower end GPUs you will be GPU limited and just about any fast CPU. Maybe not always with NetBurst, but K8 and Core2 will be more than sufficient for all but multi-GPU setups (until next gen GPUs arrive). Reply

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