AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 - Finally, An Enthusiast's Dual Core
Half Life 2 And Quake 4 - High Res Gaming
We took a different approach for this next batch of in-game benchmarks. In a recent poll of our readers, we found that 1280x1024 is the most popular resolution that folks use to play their games. So, for this next set of tests we configured Half Life 2 and Quake 4 to run at that resolution with anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering enabled, and re-ran the same benchmark demos as we ran in our low-res "CPU bound" tests on the previous page.
Although the framerates are lower, this Half Life 2 benchmark tells basically the same story as the one on the previous page. The Athlon 64 FX-57 was clearly the fastest stock speed CPU we tested, followed by the Athlon 64 FX-60, and then the Athlon 64 X2 4800+. At an overclocked 3GHz, the Athlon 64 FX-60 dropped in another 13% better frame rate number versus its stock 2.6GHz speed and it was about 8% faster than the single core, 2.8GHz FX-57. Apples to apples however, AMD's fastest dual-core CPU took out Intel's fastest by a solid 16+ percent.
When we re-ran our custom Quake 4 benchmark at a higher resolution with anti-aliasing enabled, the test systems were much more severely limited by the 256MB GeForce 7800 GTX graphics card we used. The Intel powered systems all posted the same framerate, as did the AMD powered systems. What may be surprising is that this time around, however, the Intel based systems were technically the "fastest", although less than a frame per second separated them from the AMD based systems. In GPU-bound circumstances, the type of CPU used in the system has a minimal impact on performance in most circumstances.
However, what we may be witnessed to here is a specific case where AMD's obvious architectural advantage in the CPU core, is negated significantly by some of the inherent system level challenges, for example taking a native HyperTransport serial domain to PCI Express in the MCP (or Southbridge) of the nForce 4 chipset within the system. Here a translation of HT calls to the CPU coming in from the PCI Express links in the graphics subsystem could in fact be causing a slight performance degradation not linear with the same degradation that the Intel based system sees at higher graphics workloads. Intel's architecture is largely PCI Express-based and is on chip in the Northbridge, where the memory controller also resides. There could be any one of a myriad of system level performance reasons for the scores we see here however.