Race Driver: GRID

The more serious racing fans on the staff tend to end up at iRacing.com or playing a modified version of Grand Prix Legends for our racing simulation fix. However, there comes a time to throw out physics and just have some fun. In that case, GRID is the game we play. We turn up all the options, set AA to 2x, and let the rubber burn in a Race Day event. Our results are captured via FRAPS and we average three test runs for our final score.

Race Driver: GRID - Race Day Event

At 1680x1050 in single card mode, we have a surprise winner here with the 720BE placing first. Of course, all four platforms have very close scores, but the Phenom II X3 720BE get the trophy. The 720BE leads the X4 940 by less than a percent in our tests. We raised the Northbridge speed on the X4 940 from 1.8GHz to 2.0GHz and noticed almost identical results with the X3 720BE scores listed.  Adding a second card for CrossFire operation improves average frame rates by 6% and minimum frame rates by 9% for the 720BE. Overclocking this little gem resulted in an 23% average improvement in average frame rates and 22% in minimum frame rates. Of course, the i7 platform offers excellent performance in CrossFire operation as indicated by the numbers. The Q9550 needs a 12% overclock advantage to surpass the Phenom II systems.

Race Driver: GRID - Race Day Event

Turning the resolution up to 1920x1200 results in a similar pattern across platforms at 1680x1050. Our Phenom II systems trade places at this resolution in the single card and CrossFire results, although the scores are within our .05% margin of error. Spending an additional $199 for that second card will improve average frame rates by 20% and minimum frame rates by 14% for the 720BE. Spending $50 for a good air cooler and overclocking the 720BE resulted in a 23% improvement in average frame rates and 20% in minimum frame rates.

Once again, our game play experience indicates there is no difference between the four platforms at our particular settings. Although frame rates were higher with the i7 in CrossFire mode, there was no appreciable difference in game play quality. The X3 720BE is every bit the match of the its more expensive cousin, the X4 940, in this game.

Left 4 Dead Company of Heroes: Opposing Forces


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  • yyrkoon - Saturday, March 28, 2009 - link

    You know I have been thinking it would be really cool if you guys did a story on *why* a specific game title performs better on various hardware. Does ID soft optimize for Intel ? AMD ? nVidia? AMD/ATI ? What about other game developers ? Could it be Microsofts "fault" ?

    You know, all that sort of "jazz" :)
  • MadMan007 - Saturday, March 28, 2009 - link

    I would have liked to see idle and load power consumption numbers. I know that my PC does not run at loast at least half the time if not more so idle power consumption is important to me and matters for TCO.

    That's the only thing missing from this article, otherwise nice succinct writeup.
  • gnesterenko - Saturday, March 28, 2009 - link

    Well, if I was buying a system today, I'd have to go for i7 920 by these numbers, BUT. THeres a few very interesting options coming soon. First is the new C2D from intel - the E8700 clocked at 3.5GHz. Although only a dual core, thats really really fast clocks per core and I'm sure it would OC to 4.5GHz on air like a champ considering how well the other C2Ds OC. THe other is the Phenom II 955 clocked at 3.2GHz. THis is the first quad AM3 CPU from AMD to break 3GHz barrier and should be an interesting option as well. In any case, I'd like to see another one of these articles including these two above once they come.

    Although either way, won't be picking a platform until I see performance numbers of the RD890 and SB800 platform from AMD. THis is going to be a merry X-mas!
  • TMike7 - Saturday, March 28, 2009 - link

    The quality of your articles is really outstanding, i love reading them.
    Some time ago I read an article about memory and the conclusion was that more memory is better for improving the overall performance of a given computer system than more expensive memory.
    Could You please include in your testing on DDR2 versus DDR3 one or several tests with 8Gb of DDR2-memory (2 kits of 2x2Gb). It would really be nice to see how the PhenomX3 720BE can cope with all four memory slots populated and how far it still can overclock.

  • martenlarsson - Saturday, March 28, 2009 - link

    He paid $400 for the entire setup excluding GPU, that's just a tad more than you pay for the cheapest i7, CPU only...

    Really nice article and shows you don't need a monster CPU to game. The X3 720 is looking more and more like the chip to buy.
  • erik006 - Saturday, March 28, 2009 - link

    In the article index "opposing forces" in displayed. That should be "opposing fronts." Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, March 28, 2009 - link

    Gary's been playing the new cross-genre game that combined HL2 with RTS gameplay, I suppose. We could tell you more about it, but then we'd have to kill you.... ;-) Reply
  • jaggerwild - Saturday, March 28, 2009 - link

    You spent four hundred on a MATX when for a few hundred more you could have bleeding edge I7 that will clock out higher? You must be a FAN BOY with yer very miture remarks!
    Oh yeah my momma says hello :)
  • abzillah - Sunday, March 29, 2009 - link

    This is why I bought my phenom 720. On January 18th I got laid off work from a biotech company. I haven't had any luck finding a job. Two weeks ago I sold my 2 year old PC for $350 to a friend who's kid needed a new PC but didn't want to spend much. So now I had $350, and I got $100 for painting some stuff around his house. So, please tell me how I could get myself a core i7 for $450, unless you will give me the rest of the money for free.
    Yesterday I got hired part time at a hardware store and after I pay some of my credit cards, I will buy myself a 4890. You can call me a fan boy all you want, but I see it as smart economics.
    I use mATX boards because I don't add anything on the board besides a video card, so the extra pci lots are not needed by me. I use my pc to surf the net, watch movies, play video games and use Microsoft Office.
  • iamezza - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    he was being sarcastic ;) Reply

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