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
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  • ianwhthse - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Hmm... some more investigating.

    Firefox leaves space for the images, so I right-clicked and sure enough, I've got a link. "View Image" to look at a single .png, and I get a white blank screen (properties of this particular image says 446px by 654px, 0.04kb in size).
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    I'm using Firefox without trouble. Possibly some firewall setting is getting in the way? We had a few brief issues earlier tonight, but that only lasted a few minutes (and we're not sure what happened). If IE and FF both lack images, it sounds like something outside of browser. One note is that I think our image server (images.anandtech.com) blocks access to images if you don't allow the referring URL to be passed along. Meaning, if you were to get the URL of an image and paste that directly into a browser, the image would show up as a 1x1 blank file. Not sure if that affects the graphs as well or not. Reply
  • ianwhthse - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    It was the referer info being blocked that was doing it, kinda annoying. Thanks a million. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Norton is the devil, I swear. They were great when Peter Norton was actually involved, but now it's just a name, and every release gets worse IMO. Norton Internet Security 2002 (2001?) was good; 2003 became a bit worse. 2005 was garbage and I never tried it again. I don't even run software firewall/anti-virus anymore. I've got a hardware firewall, surf with Firefox, password protect my PCs, and don't open stupid email messages. That only works because I'm the only one on the network/PCs, of course. :) Reply
  • ianwhthse - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Yeah, I run an old corporate edition from maybe 2001-2002 because I can't stand the fat of the newer releases. And it's just worked well for me otherwise, I've got a newer edition sitting around in some pile of disks in some closet, but I tried it, hated it, went back.

    I've got a hardware firewall, software firewall, AV, surf w/Firefox, anti-Spyware, AND try not to do anything stupid -- I got'cha beat =P
    Reply
  • ianwhthse - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Hmm...

    I see all the ads on the page (newegg, zipzoomfly, thermaltake, crucial, etc.) that seem to be flash. I also see the images for the header of the page (the Anandtech logo at the top of the page), but it's just the images in the review that are invisible.

    Hmm... I told the firewall (Norton) to lower my protection, and nothing [either browser]. I'll give it a stab disabled.

    *sign* Okay, charts worked w/o Norton running... (even on minimum protection, they wouldn't come up). I guess I'm off to delve into what setting is going to be doing that.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    If you are using Opera 9 or 8, did you turn on "refferer" logging under tools - quick preferences or the advanced - network option?
    Reply
  • xFlankerx - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Excellent article, by far the most detailed released yet. Yea, the E6400 was a rather important part since it's supposed to be equal to AMD's flagship FX-62, but its easy enough to figure out how it would perform from the other processors' performance.

    As for Conroe availability; 25% of Intel's total output should be more than enough. 20% of Intel's manufacturing capacity equals 100% of AMD's. If there is no shortage of AMD processors, 25% of Intel's total output should be more than enough to supply the market with enough processors?

    DigiTimes also reported that Intel will be charging everyone roughly the same price for the processors. Dell might not get the processors for half-off after all.

    That said, these processors are amazing. By far the greatest thing since the Athlon 64 almost 5 years ago. Fun stuff.
    Reply
  • mikaela - Tuesday, March 16, 2010 - link

    yes, well-written. i also love the images provided here. thanks i can use the info here to write my essay college essay requirements Reply
  • Suraj - Friday, October 20, 2006 - link

    Great article. How did they overclock the e6600? Did they use the same parts listed in "The test" ? Reply

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