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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  • Gary Key - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link


    ...that indeed you all get weekly checks from Intel for the favorable press.

    Damn, Intel must have lost my address. ;-)
  • coldpower27 - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link

    This is just so sad, how far AMD fanboys will go. I really wish there was moderation allowed, here the user point system is hardly effective enough.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link

    I'm pretty sure that was sarcasm, Coldpower. LOL :)
  • coldpower27 - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link

    Well, I guess my bad, though without a /sarcasm tag it's hard to tell. This is n't real life where you can here the tone of people's voices. :P
  • Sunrise089 - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link

    You were unable to tell "the Magic Money Fairy" was sarcasm?

    Why not just come clean and admit that you didn't read carefully.
  • coldpower27 - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link

    I read plenty carefully, thanks.
  • Sunrise089 - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link


    You were seriously unable to tell the following was sarcasm:

    " all get weekly checks from Intel"
    "...most Intel processors really don't even work at all"
    "...Intel pays off the companies to say they're Intel Inside"
    and of course
    "the Magic Money Fairy."?

    Dude, it's understandable that you were reading fast and thought the post was fanboy-ism, which there is indeed a lot of. Refusing to admit that and stating instead that the original (actually quite funny) post wasn't clear is insulting to that poster and frankly somewhat alarming.
  • coldpower27 - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    Your taking this way to seriously, if I can't recognize without smiley faces or a tag that it is sarcasm, it's acceptable considering this is written language. I rely on the tone of the conversation, which is absent here.

    There is nothing to admit. There continues to be alot of AMD fanboyism at this site, even reading carefully, it sometimes isn't a simple task to deduce what is sarcasm from the rest of the fanboy drivel.

    I am not refusing to admit anything, the poster should have considered this before he made the post, that not everyone will be able to catch the sarcasm, I assume the poster would have thought about this, and I already said my bad in the above post. You may think the establish indicators are sufficient for you, for me they are not.

    Not everyone can percieve exactly the same things you can allright, and assuming otherwise is ridiculous in itself.
  • lewisc - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    lol - was a bit of a knee-jerk response, I thought the same thing until I read all the replies before, and then realised that it was indeed (hopefully!) sarcasm. You can't blame coldpower with the amount of rubbish being spouted by some users with how 'biased' this site is.
  • VooDooAddict - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link

    Nice to see you get your own article again from time to time, reminds me of when I started visiting AT.

    The following deals with the gaming performance question most people are asking. I understand that the true focus of the article is 2m Cache vs. 4m Cache and the Overclocking impact. E6600 is still at the top of my list for a powerful new SFF thanks to the article. Regardless the article has prompted the following:

    (Maybe the following can be highlighted in a Budget/Midrange Gaming system buying guide...)

    I think it's undeniably clear that the Core 2 Duo Chips offer the most headroom for future GPUs and should therefore be at the top of most gamers’ lists if they can afford it.

    What I think some people may still find important is that with any of these amazing CPUs ... gaming is still GPU limited. It begs for the comparison of the E6300/E6400, the 3800/4200 X2, and 3500/3800 Single Cores. With a quality lower cost boards and single video cards like the 7950GX2 and 1900 XT. Do the lower end CPUs really limit gaming with a single card solution? I think the 7950 would also give a good showing as to if the new higher end and Dual Cores really needed for SLI, or if new new "low end" which used to be the high end are enough to keep that 7950 going. Most gamers I find at LANs still only run 1280x1024 without massive AA/AF simply due to the popularity of the cheep 17" and 19" sub 12ms LCDs. I also find a large number of gamers (who enjoy gaming but don't really spend much time enthusiastic about the hardware) don't ever turn on AA/AF.

    I'm not saying you didn't state that most games are still GPU bound. You clearly tell gamers clearly in the article that it's probably best to buy the E6300 with a high-end video card then a E6600 and a mid range video card. I just think that it needs to be shown.

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