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Real Gaming Challenge Rematch: Intel vs. AMD - 8/2/2006 6:25:40 AM   

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About a year ago, we ran a feature called the Real Gaming Challenge. In it, we built a couple PCs using processors that typical PC users can afford, and measured their performance in games using a different methodology—real gameplay, instead of canned, recorded demo playbacks. Now, with the availability of new dual-core Athlon 64 CPUs and Core 2 Duo processors from Intel—both with very aggressive pricing—it's time for a rematch. In standard gaming benchmarks, whether you're testing Doom 3, Half-Life 2, or Far-Cry, most game benchmarks are made from the "Quake Timedemo" mold. They run through a sequence of recorded gameplay or simply move the player along a predetermined path, counting frames and time to give you an average frame rate. Every time you run the benchmark, the exact same thing is displayed on-screen. This elimination of the variables introduced by normal gameplay is a very useful part of performance evaluation. It's especially useful in testing graphics cards, where you want to get CPU dependency and variability out of the way as much as possible and stress just that one component. It's also less time-consuming to perform each test, which means we can perform tests on a greater number of games and give a broader picture of graphics performance. Unfortunately, testing that way doesn't always paint an accurate picture of what happens when you really play a game. When playing back a standard timedemo-style recorded benchmark, many of the game's systems either don't operate or function in a controlled, pre-determined fashion. AI, physics, and much of the core game logic can entirely "turn off" when back recorded benchmark demos are playing. These are CPU-intensive tasks, and removing them from the picture can be useful in graphics benchmarking, but what if you want to see which CPUs perform best in real-world gaming scenarios? In this feature, we'll be using a popular program called FRAPS to measure performance during real live gameplay in six different games across multiple genres. We'll look at how the games run faster and slower over time, and get into a bit of a discussion about "how many FPS is enough." The point is to figure out whether Pentium 4 or Athlon 64 processors deliver a better gaming platform, and to this end, we'll compare two modern, affordable CPUs that won't set you back an arm and a leg...

Though we proclaim Core 2 Duo the clear winner, we can't be too hard on the Athlon 64 X2. It turned in a great performance and definitely makes a great gaming CPU. We've lauded the game performance of AMD's CPUs for a long time, and they didn't get any slower with the introduction of Intel's Core 2 lineup, just less expensive. The real winner here is the consumer. You don't need to spend several thousand dollars on hardware to make a great gaming system. At 1280x1024—the most common LCD resolution and 40% higher-res than 720p high definition—you can have a really awesome time gaming with a single sub-$300 graphics card and a CPU just over $300. And you don't need to reduce the game's detail levels to do it; we ran all these tests using each game's "high" setting. With such high-performance dual-core CPUs priced so aggressively, and with Vista coming out in the next year with a strong focus on improving PC gaming, the signs look good for PC game fans.

more at:,1697,1997005,00.asp
Source: ExtremeTech
Post #: 1
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