AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 - Finally, An Enthusiast's Dual Core
Half Life 2 and Quake 4 - Low Res Gaming
To start our in-game testing, we did some low-resolution benchmark loops with the latest version of Half Life 2. Like some of the other in-game tests in this performance showcase, we used low-quality graphical settings and a low screen resolution to isolate CPU and memory performance and take as much of the load off the graphics pipeline as possible.
Clearly, Half Life 2 runs faster on AMD's Athlons, as is evident by the 30-40+ frame per second advantages for the FX-57 and X2 4800+. The new Pentium Extreme Edition 955 did manage to jump ahead of the other Intel processors in this test though, besting the higher-clocked, single-core 3.73GHz Extreme Edition by about 7 FPS, and the 840XE by about 25 FPS. The Athlon 64 FX-60 falls right in between the single core FX-57 and the 2.4GHz dual core X2 4800+, an easy performance trade-off, if you ask us, in return for exponentially smoother multi-tasking and multi-threaded performance that will undoubtedly become more prevalent in future game titles.
We then benchmarked all of the test systems again using our custom single-player Quake 4 timedemo file. Here, we installed the new v1.05 patch which is SMP capable, cranked the resolution down to 640 x 480, and configured the game to run at its "Low-Quality" graphics setting. Although Quake 4 bears a fairly heavy burden today's high-end GPUs, when it's configured at low detail and resolutions settings such as these, it too is much more CPU and memory-bound.
Quake 4 clearly now benefits from dual-core CPUs and multi-threading with this new patch. In fact the Pentium EE 955 is able to outscore its brethren single core 3.73GHz P4, even though it runs at nearly a 300MHz slower clock speed. However, none of the Intel-based scores were even in the same league as the Athlon 64 brigade. The Athlon 64 FX-60 took the top post with a 29% advantage over the fastest Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 955 frame rate.