AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 And X2 5000+ Socket AM2, nForce 590 SLI & ATI RD580

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High-Res Gaming: F.E.A.R, Splinter Cell, Q4

To see how AMD's new AM2 based processors would fare in a typical high-end gaming scenario, we also tested the CPUs with some popular games at high-resolution settings that taxed the graphics sub-system of each of the platforms.

Performance Comparisons with F.E.A.R
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One of the most highly anticipated titles of 2005 was Monolith's paranormal thriller F.E.A.R. Taking a look at the minimum system requirements, we see that you will need at least a 1.7GHz Pentium 4 with 512MB of system memory and a 64MB graphics card, that is a Radeon 9000 or GeForce4 Ti-class or better, to adequately run the game. Using the full retail release of the game patched to v1.03, we put the graphics cards in this review through their paces to see how they fared with a popular title. Here, all graphics settings within the game were set to the maximum values, but with soft shadows disabled (Soft shadows and anti-aliasing do not work together currently). Benchmark runs were then completed at a resolution 1600x1200 with anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering enabled.


Our high-resolution F.E.A.R. benchmark proves that SLI is king with this game.  The nForce 590 SLI / dual-GeForce 7900 GTX configurations were the best performers by far.  With the same CPU installed, the nForce 590 SLI rig outpaced the RD580 CrossFire system by 21 frames per second, and the Intel rig lagged behind by 31 FPS.

Performance Comparisons with Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

SC: Chaos Theory

Based on a heavily modified version of the Unreal Engine, enhanced with a slew of DX9 shaders, lighting and mapping effects, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory is gorgeous with its very immersive, albeit dark, environment. The game engine has a shader model 3.0 code path that allows the GeForce 6 & 7 Series of cards and the X1000 family of cards to really shine, and a recent patch has implemented a shader model 2.0 path for ATI's X8x0 generation of graphics hardware. For these tests we enabled the SM 3.0 path on all of the cards we tested. However, High Dynamic Range rendering was disabled so that we could test the game with anti-aliasing enabled (a future patch should enable AA with HDR on the X1K family). We benchmarked the game a resolution 1600 x 1,200 with anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering.


All of the test systems were evenly matched in the Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory benchmark. This game, however, had the CrossFire powered systems finishing in the lead, with the nForce 590 SLI and nForce 4 SLIX16 based rigs trailing closely behind.  The differences in performance here are no more than 6 frames per second though, which equates to roughly a 5% difference.

Performance Comparisons with Quake 4

Quake 4
id Software, in conjunction with developer Raven, recently released the latest addition to the wildly popular Quake franchise, Quake 4. Quake 4 is based upon an updated and slightly modified version of the Doom 3 engine, and as such performance characteristics between the two titles are very similar.  Like Doom 3, Quake 4 is also an OpenGL game that uses extremely high-detailed textures and a ton of dynamic lighting and shadows, but unlike Doom3, Quake 4 features some outdoor environments as well. We ran this these Quake 4 benchmarks using a custom demo with the game set to its "High-Quality" mode, at a resolution of 1,600 x 1,200 with 4X AA and 8X aniso enabled simultaneously.

Our custom Quake 4 benchmark mirrors what we saw with F.E.A.R.  Here, the SLI enabled platforms clearly offered the best performance, especially when powered by a fast CPU like the Athlon 64 FX-62.  The RD580 and Intel powered rigs performed well, but couldn't come close to NVIDIA's platform.

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