Gaming Performance using Quake 4, Battlefield 2 & Half-Life 2 Episode 1

Our gaming performance analysis starts out with Quake 4 running at 1600 x 1200 with High Quality visual settings. We used version 1.2 of Quake 4 and SMP was enabled:

Gaming Performance - Quake 4

Once we shift over to gaming performance, the differences between all of the tested systems are greatly diminished. Enabling 4xAA would further reduce the difference, to the point where most of the systems would be about equal. This does not change the fact that the Core 2 Duo chips are able to outperform their AMD counterparts in terms of raw performance, so once faster graphics cards become available we should see the processors begin to differentiate themselves more. Of course, by then we might also have games that are more demanding of the GPU.

Looking specifically at Quake 4 performance -- and remember that this is one of the few games that can truly take advantage of multiple processor cores -- the Core 2 processors continue to outperform their AMD counterparts, but only by a small margin. The overall spread between the X6800 and the X2 3800+ is 35%, which is certainly noticeable, but with frame rates that are all averaging over ~120 FPS Quake 4 is clearly going to run well on all of the tested systems. We had hoped to include Prey performance as well, so that we could see how an updated Quake 4/Doom 3 engine game performs, but we ran into benchmarking issues that we are currently investigating.

Next up we've got the recently released Half Life 2: Episode 1, running at default quality settings (auto detected with a pair of X1900 XTs installed) with the exception of AA and aniso being disabled. As with all of our gaming tests in this article we tested at 1600 x 1200:

Gaming Performance - Half-Life 2: Episode One

In Half-Life 2: Episode One, the Performance spread is 41%. At the top end of the spectrum, we're beginning to become GPU limited even without antialiasing enabled. Valve's Source engine clearly likes the Core 2 architecture, as even without overclocking the E6300 and E6400 clearly perform better than their similarly priced AMD counterparts.

Gaming Performance - Battlefield 2

Battlefield 2 is a game that has consistently demonstrated it is more CPU limited than GPU limited, especially with high-end graphics solutions. Here the spread between the processors is 58%, and the E6300/E6400 without overclocking are faster than everything from AMD except for the FX-62. At the top end of the spectrum, we finally begin to reach the limitations of our GPUs, with the top four systems all performing within 3% of each other.

Encoding Performance using DivX 6.1, WME9, Quicktime (H.264) & iTunes Gaming Performance using F.E.A.R. & Rise of Legends
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  • Igi - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    After reading this and previous Core2 review there are still some questions I would like to be answered. In both reviews many games and standard apps were tested, but I was really hoping to see a review where some software development applications would be tested (MS Visual Studio 6 and 2005, Borland Delphi 7, 2006) on new platform.

    Currently I’m working on project with several million lines of C++ code and it takes quite some time to build the whole application regardless of distributed compiling. During the development I have to test new code, therefore I have to build my own intermediate version on my workstation. While the compiling process can be distributed the linking process can’t. Therefore single treaded performance is still the most important.

    I remember reading somewhere that more than 5 million copies of MS Visual Studio 2005 Express were downloaded in a few weeks after the release. This means the SW development community is quite large and you shouldn’t just ignore it. You can find several free large C++, and Delphi Pascal projects on SourceForge.

    I also haven’t found a decent review on the net where Solid Modeling CAD/CAM applications (Solidworks 2006, ProEngineer Wildfire 3.0) were tested either on Woodcrest or Core2 platform. I know it’s difficult to test applications you don’t know anything about them, but a few basic tests like: model rebuild times, feature build times would be enough.

    Several years ago when Johan was still publishing reviews on aceshardware web-site some of the reviews included EDA software. Millions of users around the world are using EDA software to develop hardware. Basically I’m also very interested in a review where apps like Xilinx ISE, Modelsim, Synplicity Synplify, PCAD, Specctra Autorouter, Hyperlynx and many others would be tested on new Core2 CPUs. I remember the days I bought P4 with RDRAM just because Modelsim run so much faster on a computer with high bandwidth memory interface. Several years later I bought A64 3000 computer because it was able to run Xilinx ISE (place and route of a large FPGA project) 200-250% faster than P4 3.2GHz.

    Probably Core2 CPUs will excel in all apps, but I would really like to see the numbers. I don’t care who wins, Intel or AMD. Developers in a company where I work get the machines I recommend them based on the past experience, the knowledge I gather on review sites like AT, forums and newsgroups.

    Anand, don’t let this site to become just another average “shoot-em-up games” test site. Once in a while, put together a review of apps mentioned above or similar running on new CPUs and professional users will be grateful.

    One last thing, I remember more than a year ago in one of the reviews it was said that we will soon see a review of professional graphic cards (Quadro, FireGL). Are we going to see this review anytime soon?
  • Gary Key - Saturday, July 29, 2006 - link


    Probably Core2 CPUs will excel in all apps, but I would really like to see the numbers. I don’t care who wins, Intel or AMD. Developers in a company where I work get the machines I recommend them based on the past experience, the knowledge I gather on review sites like AT, forums and newsgroups.

    Please email me. :)
  • AtaStrumf - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    Damn you Anand! You're making me regret my recent, admittedly cheap, X2 3800+ purchase. These cheap Core 2s really seem worth the extra wait for cheaper mobos, and the mobo instalation hassle, which was a major reason I decided to go with the X2 (getting lazy lately). The swap took like 5 mins.

    But no, I'm fine thank you. This will be fine once I fugure out why I'm getting random reboots and overclock the hell out of it,... right?

    Great review BTW. Too bad some thick skulls can't comprehend it.
  • duploxxx - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    well i must say the whole article is full of crap and idiot comparing benches oc'ed versus non oc'ed.

    but finally you are getting the idea hot to start a review and how to formalize the final words... altough the the low end core e6300-e6400 might be slight better performers the do cost more if you want a decent mobo/proc combo...

    but these oc against stock is stupid, at least you should add oc'ed 3800 and 4600 to the list before you post this whole article and guess what a 149$ chip clocks eassily
    from 2000 to 2650 with minor changes. same as an e6300 and others would do.

    one more thing ever tought of just not running 1 on 1 benches but actually stress the system in some fine multitasking... then again put a chart up for compare... will be interesting to see except for the intel marketing bulldozer......

    i'll give you a hint how it looks like... bashed core 3.0 versus k8 2.6">
  • Guuts - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    I'm sorry, but did you even read the whole article? Or any of the previous comments where the writers explained why there were no overclocked X2s?

    I'm not going to generalize and say that ANYone that reads this and similar sites already knows the overclocking capabilities of, for example, the 3800+ X2, (which can fairly easily reach 2.6GHz on air)...but I know I sure knew that fact quite well by now, and when I was reading the article, I just substituted the 5000+ X2 results as the "overclocked" 3800+ because that is the results they would have come up with.

    So yes, the 3800+ will clock up to 2.6GHz (5000+ speeds), as will the e6300/e6400, and you can compare this very well in the graphs even without truely overclocking an actual 3800+ CPU.

    No need to say the article is full of crap and idiotic when you didn't bother to read it carefully, or because it came to conclusions that you didn't like.
  • Vinnybcfc - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    I suggest you read the article 1st a 3800+ can only obtain about 2.8 max if your lucky; guess what they had a AMD 2.8ghz processor in there list
  • atenza - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    I have just one question: How is it possible, that a 39% overclock of the E6300 results in a 53% performance increase in the Rise of Legends benchmarks?

    Anyone got an idea? Please, share it with me ;-)
  • OcHungry - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    It's final. There’s no ATI for conroe-no crossfire, no chipset, nothing, nada.
    Nvedia's SLI is up in the air, and most probably will not happen.
    As I said before, You can buy an AM2 mobo+cpu+2 cheap SLI vid card, for less than $450 and no Intel set up can beat your gaming machine considering. High end? wlet it be 4x4.
    E6300 are gouged to $295 ( and a $250 mobo to be able to overclock the way AT is suggesting.
    This is my formal request to AT Management to revise this review to reflect what is available for conroe and please this time show us the AM2 cpu's overclocked, instead of hypothesizing everything (including availabilities of mobo and chipset), and what's the cheapest gamer's (so called enthusiast)setup.
  • Gary Key - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link


    Nvedia's SLI is up in the air, and most probably will not happen.

    You probably should check the news section before making this kind of statement. ;-)

    "SANTA CLARA, CA—JULY 27, 2006—NVIDIA Corporation (Nasdaq: NVDA), the worldwide leader in programmable graphics processor technologies, today announced that many of the world’s leading system builders have elected to launch new enthusiast gaming Intel Core 2 Duo-based systems exclusively with NVIDIA SLI technology. The Intel Core 2 Duo processor combined with an NVIDIA nForce4 SLI X16 or NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI or 570 SLI-based motherboard and one, two, or even four GeForce® graphics processing units (GPUs), has already proven to be an unbeatable combination in terms of system level and gaming performance. This combination is earning early accolades from leading publications, such as Maximum PC magazine, which selected an Intel Core 2 Duo processor-compatible motherboard based on NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI technology and dual GeForce 7900 GTX GPUs for their 2006 Dream Machine cover story. ™"
  • OcHungry - Friday, July 28, 2006 - link

    Well, there was no news on Nvedia’s SLI when I posted my reply. I am glad Nvedia has come to Intel’s rescue.
    But I am not too optimistic about this announcement. It’s kind of late in the game, and by the time those boards are shipped, AMD Is showing off the K8L. Even if K8L is not due till 1Q 07, enthusiasts will have to think twice pouring out $300 on a conroe SLI ready mobo.
    Soon AMD will release the 4x4's that will cost less than $1k (according to AMD) which is faster than any conroe system. But speculation aside, let’s look at what is available today and how much will cost: A good overclocking conroe board costs $270 compared to $120 AM2 boards.
    An E6300 + mobo will cost around $500 (to be able to OC FSB to 400mhz). With that much money you can buy">A64 4200+">motherboard+">1gig of ram+">Vid Card.

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