Gaming Performance

As usual, gaming performance was tested with a variety of current games. We ran benchmarks at a 1024x768 resolution. Any more than this resulted in completely unplayable game conditions, although we did find several older non-FPS games such as the Civilization series, Railroad Tycoon 3, Rollercoaster Tycoon series, and others played acceptability at 1280x1024 with the quality settings at normal. We concentrated on Direct X games as OpenGL support under Vista is bad at this time.

Battlefield 2

This benchmark is performed using DICE's built-in demo playback functionality with additional capture capabilities designed in house. During the benchmark, the camera switches between players and vehicles in order to capture the most action possible. There is a significant amount of smoke, explosions, and vehicle usage as this a very GPU intensive Battlefield 2 benchmark. We run Battlefield 2 using medium quality graphics settings available in the video settings. The game itself is best experienced with average in-game frame rates of 35 and up.

Gaming Performance - Battlefield 2


Half-Life 2: Lost Coast

We use the built-in timedemo feature to benchmark the game. Our timedemo consists of starting at the bottom of the hill near the lake and ending in the old church. The Source engine timedemo feature is similar to the nettimedemo of Id's Doom 3 engine, in that it plays back more than just the graphics. The visual quality settings were set to high or medium where possible with HDR off. While the Source engine is notorious for giving great frame rates for almost any hardware setup, we find the game isn't as enjoyable if it isn't running at 35fps or above.

Gaming Performance - Half Life 2


Company of Heroes

Company of Heroes was recently released and is proving to be a very addictive RTS game around the office. This game is very GPU intensive and also requires a hefty CPU at times. The game contains a built-in performance test that utilizes the game engine to generate several different action scenes along with a coffee argument as a sideline distraction before the war starts. We found the performance test gives a good indication of how well your system will perform throughout the game on average. Some of the in-game action sequences are more demanding than the performance test, but we generally found the game to be enjoyable with an average performance test frame rate above 30fps.

Gaming Performance - Company of Heroes


Sims 2

Sims 2 was released over two years ago and is constantly being updated with best selling expansion packs. In testing with the various expansion packs we did not notice any measurable differences in performance so our benchmark will be reflective of game play using the base game title. This particular game requires a decent CPU and very good GPU when utilizing the antialiasing, shadow, or high quality texture options.

We utilize FRAPS to capture the results from our replay file. Our benchmark consists of a three character scenario that takes approximately twenty minutes to set up and cycle through a series of daily events. The camera movements are varied as is the movement so we feel like this benchmark represents the typical game. We set most video options to high but disable shadows. We generally found the game to be enjoyable with an average frame rate above 30fps.

Gaming Performance - Sims2


Gaming Summary

What else can you really say after reviewing the results? They are generally pathetic from a gaming perspective but the 690G obviously has some potential left in it at the lower resolutions. The 6150 performs okay considering the age of its core and we will see the new 6150SE and older 6100 chipset performing a few percent better overall but not enough to catch the 690G.

Considering the G965 was launched last fall and promised to bring about a difference in on-board video performance, we are still not seeing the results live up to the hype. The G965 was incapable of running Battlefield 2 at all and Half-Life 2 was an interesting slide show that allowed you to see every detail of the benchmark session in an excruciatingly slow way that would make a visit to the dentist for a root canal seem pleasant. However, G965 was able to generate decent results (for this grouping) in Company of Heroes and Sims 2, though the minimum frame rates in Sims 2 would bring the game to a slow crawl at times. Image quality generally favored the 690G in the majority of games we tried but the NVIDIA 6150 was close in most titles. The G965 had acceptable image quality but we could tell certain details were not as sharp or even evident when compared to the competing AM2 solutions.

Media Performance Disk Controller Performance
POST A COMMENT

70 Comments

View All Comments

  • 3 CUBED - Friday, March 09, 2007 - link

    I have to mention power also. Considering that a HTPC is properly going to be on quiet a bit, I would like to se some info on the power draw, from these mobo's. The same goes in the roundup!! Also considering that the energy prices is headed only UP, even a little lower performance might be worth that in the long run!!

    Thanks Kasper.
    Reply
  • MrNeutrino - Thursday, March 08, 2007 - link

    Guys,

    First, the feedback:

    Frankly I'm quite frustrated from waiting for a site like AT for the past half a year or more to come out with more mATX reviews (until this review, which is a start).

    I realize there are a lot of gamers OCers out there - very many AT readers. However, there are many (just as many?) non-gamer enthusiasts hoping to run stock-speed,SILENT, SFF systems out there - myself for one.

    While lesser known sites have reviewed many of these products, I (and others like me I know of) have been waiting for AT to publish SOMETHING in the mATX / C2D (current and long-standing performance champ depending on the system config.) category for months on end! I realize you have dedicated folks working for each review category. However, AT - a site as a whole - still seems to have enough bandwidth to publish back-to-back LCD and heatsink reviews in a matter of day or two each. Yet you seem to have held off on prioritizing mATX system reviews for some inexplicable milestone until yesterday. I recall reading a vague comment in one of your reviews around the end of the year regarding an 'upcoming' mATX review, if I remember correctly. In my opinion it was already too delayed a review. Little did I know I'd be waiting another two months for such a review.

    Geez! Publish the review in parts if you must, but don't make your readers hold off for this long and think all is well! What's the point of releasing this type of review, months after products became widely available and just a few months before the next round of technology updates?!

    -----------------------

    Second is a set of requests for the (personally) much anticipated upcoming mATX review next week 'as well as' for future reviews:

    Requests for the upcoming mATX review:

    * Please try to include Asus P5B-VM. One of the currently best featured G965 MBs.

    * Please include at least one C2D ATX MB for comparison! My vote is for Asus P5B-E. I can't stress this enough! I have yet to receive any 'quantitative' (read: benchmark backed) response in forums http://forums.anandtech.com/messageview.aspx?catid...">here) and http://forums.anandtech.com/messageview.aspx?catid...">here, on the following topics (quoting from my earlier posts):

    - how do mATX boards compare to ATX boards "for non-gaming tasks such as video / audio editing, general productivity, multi-tasking etc.?"

    - "How much of a performance hit does a G965 type mATX motherboard with integrated graphics incur as a result of sharing memory bus bandwidth with the CPU, for NON-GAMING benchmarks, compared to regular C2D ATX boards?" (Assuming of course, the user chooses to use integrated graphics vs. discrete solution and has that enabled in BIOS.)

    Please BE SURE to adderss these and other such real-world topics and help make the review more meaningful for folks like me.


    Requests for future reviews:

    * Consider investing more time and effort in SFF / mATX / silent PC config based reviews! Yes, there is an audience out there...

    * For a site this major and popular - both with readers and vendors - you need to seriously evaluate your time-to-publishing lags for some of these reviews - C2D mATX roundup review for one. I realize there are a million things you can review and only 24 hours in a day. Delayed reviews (compared to when the products came out) don't help your readers as much - think luxury car depreciation over time... :)

    Thanks.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, March 08, 2007 - link

    Hi,

    Your suggestions and comments are appreciated. I did reply in the forums this morning.

    :)
    Reply
  • MrNeutrino - Friday, March 09, 2007 - link

    Thanks Gary.

    I appreciate you reviewing the feedback and requests in detail. Hopefully we'll see some follow-up action based on this as and where appropriate.

    Also, thanks for replying to some of the key questions I've had around mATX vs. ATX boards. Lack of major performance delta is very good to hear about, at least for pre-Vista Windows OSes. Interesting.

    Based on your comments in the forum posting re: Vista + IGP + memory latency, I am intrigued. If you are going to cover this in the upcoming review, feel free to say so and defer this question. Else I am curious what performance difference we are talking about between XP vs. Vista using IGP solutions? Any pointers to help with this comparison would be helpful in helping decide whether or not a Vista purchase is worthwhile from a performance standpoint in such categories / applications.

    Also, have you transitioned to exclusively testing using Vista?
    Reply
  • blawck - Wednesday, March 07, 2007 - link

    I'm buying a small-form-factor PC with an Intel 965G motherboard (it was the only option), and I'm plugging in an NVIDIA 8800GTX video card. So, I was wondering how these IGP motherboards (specifically this Intel one) perform in general with a vidcard plugged in. Is performance on par with (or at least somewhere close to) that of full-size motherboards? Or am I getting screwed? Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, March 07, 2007 - link

    It depends on the board that you buy. The Gigabyte GA-965G-DS3 allows for a decent level of overclocking (330FSB) and memory options (CAS 3 operation), the overall performance difference will not be noticeable in day to day activities when compared to a more enthusiast level board. A base G965 board will not offer the same overclocking options and a couple of the boards only allow CAS 5 operation at DDR2-800, but once again, the performance delta overall will be less than 5% in most cases, nothing to be concerned about especially given your choice of video cards. Reply
  • blawck - Wednesday, March 07, 2007 - link

    Great, thanks for the quick reply! This is a high-quality site =). The manufacturer is Maingear, and the board they're using for my system is simply identified generically as "Intel 965G Express," but based on your response, I have faith that I am, indeed, not getting screwed =). I've built all my previous machines, but I'm getting old and fat and lazy, so I figured I'd spend a few hundred extra and have someone do it for me. Not too worried about SLI or overclocking at this point...I'll accept whatever resolution I can run Oblivion in, as long as I can run it. Thanx again. Reply
  • chucky2 - Wednesday, March 07, 2007 - link

    For the mATX review, you should include results for the Abit Fatal1ty F-I90HD.

    It's basically the 690G version for Intel CPU's...and that'd allow a direct comparison between Conroe and AM2 CPU's as the chipset would be the same.

    Just a thought...

    Chuck

    P.S. Plus, I'm sure there's a good amount of people that'd like to run Conroe on a cheap but good mATX, and the Abit Fatal1ty F-I90HD looks to be about the best option out right now for that (albiet in limited quantities so far...), just too bad it doesn't have onboard Firewire (at least I don't think it does, didn't list it on the spec page), because then it'd have like everything one could want...
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, March 07, 2007 - link

    We should receive that board next week. I will do my best to include in it the roundup. Reply
  • chucky2 - Wednesday, March 07, 2007 - link

    Awesome if you can Gary, Cool if you can't...

    ...March looks like the month of motherboard reviews... :)

    Chuck
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now