Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 955 & 975X Express Chipset: 65nm is Here
Low-Res Gaming: HL2 & Quake 4
To start our in-game testing, we did some low-resolution benchmarking with Half Life 2. When testing a processor with HL 2, we use a specific set of game engine initialization settings that ensure all of the systems are being benchmarked with the exact same in-game settings and graphical options. Like the other in-game tests in this review, we used low-quality graphical settings and a low screen resolution to isolate CPU and memory performance.
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.
For our next game test, we benchmarked all of the test systems using a custom single-player Quake 4 timedemo. 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 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.
Our custom Quake 4 benchmark tells basically the same story as our Half Life 2 test. As you can see, the Athlons were once again the fastest of the bunch, outperforming anything from the Intel camp by 12-30 frames per second. The Pentium Extreme Edition 955 was the fastest of the Intel processors though.