Quake 3: Arena is may be getting a little old when it comes to gaming benchmarks, but its design still shows off some of the advantages of the AMD and Intel processors. Quake 3 is floating-point intensive and has support for SIMD optimizations (MMX, 3DNow! and SSE), which makes it a great fit for processor testing. It also happens to scale nicely to faster CPUs, video cards and motherboards, and Quake 3 performance continues to be the basis for many CPU and 3D video card purchases.
Quake 3 testing is performed starting with High Quality settings, then racking in-game detail settings to maximum, and a 1024x768 resolution, using release 1.30, along with the standard "demo Four".
Quake 3 may not be the newest games in our benchmark suite, but it's still great at defining old school performance, and also scales extremely well to faster hardware. The main part of our benchmark evaluation involves the dual core battle, and here the Athlon 64 X2 3800+ uses its 2.0 GHz clock speed to outpace the entire Pentium D line. Of course, this does not translate into the single core arena, where even the 2.2 GHz Athlon 64 3500+ posts a higher score. Quake 3 is also a benchmark that has favored the Intel processors, and in other games, we anticipate the Athlon 64 X2 3800+ having a significant performance lead over the Pentium D line.
FarCry is a hot new first-person shooter that takes in-game graphics to the next level, although in a different direction than DOOM 3. Instead of darkness and confined spaces, FarCry places you outdoors, on bright sandy beaches, jungles or even on the water itself. This game gives our processors a different kind of a stress test, and rest assured that FarCry ranks up there with the very toughest 3D game benchmarks. For this test, we are using the full retail version, and the included in-game demo.
We are seeing almost a mirror image of the Quake 3 scores in the FarCry benchmark chart, with the Athlon 64 X2 3800+ again taking it to the Pentium D 840, 830 and 820 models. But the comparisons to the single core AMD and Intel processors are not as kind, and the 2.0 GHz Athlon 64 X2 3800+ can only manage to slip by the 3.4 GHz Pentium 4 650.
Half-Life 2 is the latest in a line of serious first-person shooters from Valve, and has really taken in-game graphics to the next level. This is a great opportunity to really push our processors to the limit, as well as providing a counterpoint to newer 3D games like DOOM 3. This is also a CPU-reliant game in many ways, making Half-Life 2 a game that rewards higher-end processors and systems.
Half-Life 2 benchmarking is more in the AMD wheelhouse, and the Athlon 64 X2 3800+ easily plows by the Pentium D line, and even manages to surpass the results of the 3.8 GHz Pentium 4 670. But once we move to the single core Athlon 64 models, it's no contest, and the 2.0 GHz Athlon 64 X2 3800+ performs more like its Athlon 64 3200+ single core counterpart.