Athlon 64 X2 Energy Efficient Processors
3DMark06 And Quake 4
3DMark06's built-in CPU test is a multi-threaded "gaming related" DirectX metric that's useful for comparing relative performance between similarly equipped systems.
This test consists of two different 3D scenes that are generated with a software renderer which is dependent on the host CPU's performance. This means that the calculations normally reserved for your 3D accelerator are instead sent to the central processor. The number of frames generated per second in each test are used to determine the final score.
3DMark06 lines things up according to rank and serial number here. There's no real insight to gain except the scale of where this benchmark scores each processor. For our money here the sweet spot is probably the $300ish A64 5000+ or the Core 2 Duo but you'll pay nearly double for that currently and they're on back order as of this publication date.
For our next game test, we benchmarked all of the test systems using a custom single-player Quake 4 timedemo. Here, we installed the game's official v1.2 patch which is SMP capable, tuned the resolution down to 640x480, and configured the game to run at its "Low-Quality" graphics setting. Although Quake 4 typically taxes today's high-end GPUs, when it's configured at these minimal settings, it too is more CPU and memory-bound than anything else.
Quake 4 heavily favors the memory bandwidth and throughput of the Core 2 Duo architecture in this test, but beyond that, it's a real horse race. After the Core 2 Duo, our money is on the 4600+ Energy Efficient CPU with a $240 MSRP for full retail PIB (processor in a box) kits.