Windows 7 Gaming Performance

Our Bench suite is getting a little long in the tooth, so I added a few more gaming tests under Windows 7 with a new group of processors. We'll be adding some of these tests to Bench in the future but the number of datapoints is obviously going to be small as we build up the results.

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Batman is an Unreal Engine 3 game and a fairly well received one at that. Performance is measured using the built in benchmark at the highest image quality settings without AA enabled.

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Pretty much everything performs well here. Technically this is one of those exceptions where the i5 661 actually performs like it's priced. The i3s continue to be competitive with similarly priced AMD options.

Dragon Age Origins is another very well received game. The 3rd person RPG gives our CPUs a different sort of workload to enjoy:

Dragon Age Origins

Many games these days can actually use more than two cores, and thus we see the Lynnfield/Bloomfield chips scale ridiculously well here. As such, the i5 661 loses its appeal since it's priced like a Lynnfield.

The i3s however do very well. They outperform the similarly priced AMD CPUs and are just behind the Phenom II X4 925. They're definitely a lot faster than the old Core 2 Duo E8600 despite the clock speed deficiency.

Dawn of War II is a beautiful RTS that we've used in our GPU reviews for some time now. It scales will core count reasonably well but also shows the strengths of the new Clarkdales:

Dawn of War II

Again, the i5 661 isn't fast enough for its price but the i3s are great.

World of Warcraft needs no introduction. An absurd number of people play it, so we're here to benchmark it. Our test favors repeatability over real world frame rates, so our results here will be higher than in the real world with lots of server load. But what our results will tell you is what the best CPU is to get for playing WoW:

World of Warcraft

It's surprising how little difference there is between the i5 661 and the i3 540. It's almost as if Intel knew that the nomenclature had to exaggerate whatever little difference there was.

The i5 661 does well here, but the most bang for your buck comes from the i3s which even outperform the Phenom II X4 965. If you want an affordable gaming CPU, the Core i3 is where it's at.

Gaming Performance Ridiculously Fun to Overclock
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  • SydneyBlue120d - Tuesday, February 09, 2010 - link

    The Intel G9650 doesn't exist, what You're referring is Intel G6950
    http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=43230">http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=43230
    Reply
  • puterfx - Wednesday, February 03, 2010 - link

    I've been building systems since the late 90's, mostly for others, and I'm always the last to get a decent system so I decided it was about time for me. I'm running an e6600 on a 3 yr old Intel board w/ 2g of DDR2 RAM and was wondering about the differences between C 2 quad, i3-540, i5-750 or i7-820. I priced out 3 different setups with Gigabyte boards (EP45, H57 & P55 - USB3 ver.) combined with Q8400/9300/9400 on EP45, i3-540,i5-750 and i7-820 on the H57 & P55 and 4 Gb DDR3 RAM (Crucial, Geil, Kingston)so , basically, I had 9 combinations. Excluding the i7, the price range for these builds was about $429 - $487, and I could probably do better if I tried but I was amazed that they were that close (the i7 adds another $100 but not that much improvement in performance that I can see).

    Looking at your charts, I think I can justify going with the i5-750. I have a decent video card for the occassional gaming that works pretty good for me now (I'll apply the $100 from above to a better card later) but I do a lot of spreadsheets and some photoshop and autocad so I think I'll see a better improvement there.

    Thanks again for all your articles. Very well written, understandable and thorough.
    Reply
  • KingAlexander - Saturday, January 30, 2010 - link

    I too am puzzled by the i7 870 scoring so low on the World of Warcraft chart -- it stood out to me immediately when I first read the article. I was a little surprised to not see it mentioned.

    It was suggested in another comment that this was due to the game having an issue with hyperthreading, but if that was the case shouldn't the i7 920 also have scored significantly lower than it did?
    Reply
  • Bloodx - Monday, January 25, 2010 - link

    It should be noted that this new intel system does not work
    at 1080p/24 correct. The nvidia 9400 chipset works at 1080p/24.
    So i've traded audio for skipping.
    HTPC is no better off. Sad.
    Reply
  • geok1ng - Sunday, January 10, 2010 - link

    Previous Intel IGPs managed achieve less terrible numbers in game by cheating- they didn't render all the polygons and textures. So for good measure i require side by side screenshots of the "new, better, faster and cheaper" Intel IGP.

    The idea of an Intel IGP that simply isn't horrible is SOO strange that a true review would have to go the race: benchmarks, screenshots, minimum playable settings for various games and screenshots. Something the articles on HardOCP.
    Reply
  • snakyjake - Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - link

    Why isn't the i7-860 tested in the section "Windows 7 Application Performance"?

    Without the i7-860 in the Windows 7 test section, this review is pointless.
    Reply
  • NeBlackCat - Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - link

    I was hoping to build a new always-on home server around one of these. Power miserly IGP and idle operation (for when it's only firewalling and routing) but plenty of grunt in reserve for occasional video encoding, compiling and running virtual machines.

    Looks like they missed the mark for this application, and I couldn't even adopt now and wait for the real deal CPU later, as the socket is a dead end.

    IMHO only the HTPC crowd have a reason to be excited here, but there are lots of other (cheaper) ways to get low power 1080p too.
    Reply
  • ruetheday - Friday, January 08, 2010 - link

    Let's wait and see - There are products coming which will do gpu assisted transcoding that might shift things in Clarkdale's favor. Reply
  • bongbong - Tuesday, January 05, 2010 - link

    I know for a fact that the athlon II x3s and x4s have to overclock like crazy in games to reach the same performance delta as their phenom II x3 and x4 brethren
    (coz of the 6mb cache and many games are dependent on cache)
    Ive seen gaming benchmarks on anandtech where the x3 720 matched the x4 965 when they are both overclocked to 3.8ghz.
    I was able to buy an x3 720 for only a 110 usd recently.
    So why isnt it in the benchmark comparisons?


    Reply
  • JohnMD1022 - Tuesday, January 05, 2010 - link

    $150 from microcenter. Reply

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