Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 965: Not Just A Speed Bump
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.
AMD's dual-core processors had a clear advantage in our custom low-resolution, low-quality Half Life 2 benchmark. The Pentium Extreme Edition 965 was easily the fastest Intel-built CPU, but the Athlon 64 X2 4800+ and FX-60 posted much higher scores. To be exact, the Athlon 64 X2 4800+ came in 15.7% faster, and the FX-60 19.7%.
For our next game test, we benchmarked all of the test systems using a custom single-player Quake 4 timedemo. Here, we installed the beta 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 low-quality Quake 4 benchmark results essentially mirrored those of Half Life 2. In this test, the Pentium Extreme Edition 965 was easily the fastest of the Intel offerings, but the Athlons were too much to handle. We would also like to note that we did some experimenting with this benchmark using NVIDIA's Forceware v84.25 drivers due to be released a little later today, and saw big jumps in performance with the 965XE and FX-60. In fact, with the 84.25 drivers installed, the 965XE's performance jumped to 182.3 FPS in this test, and the FX-60's score increased to 202.3 FPS.