Quake 4 is the latest in 3D first-person shooters from id Software, and while the actual storyline is pretty standard fare and the game itself is based on the DOOM 3 engine, the graphics are exceptional and it is an improvement over previous games. The lighting and shadow effects are excellent, and the overall level design and architecture are a real treat. The overall load on the graphics card can be extreme, which is both a blessing and a curse, depending on the actual hardware you are testing.
* Please note we are working with the standard retail version, and have not updated it using the dual core patch.
Quake 4 is based on the same engine as DOOM 3, and due to combination of enhanced NVIDIA drivers and limited game support, it also seems to reward the extra multithreading of a dual core or HT-enabled processor. The Athlon 64 FX-60 gets back on the winning track with a very impressive first place finish in Quake 4, and even the Pentium EE 955 gets into the act and almost matches the score of the Athlon 64 FX-57. Once again, it's a very close race between the 2.4 GHz Athlon 64 X2 4800+ and 2.8 GHz Athlon 64 FX-57, proving once more just how much improvement the dual core driver support has made.
Painkiller is another hotrod first-person shooter that features high-end game graphics, but the difference here is the use of a non-standard, proprietary game engine. So instead of the next revision of the latest DOOM, Quake or Unreal Tournament product, we get something slightly different that helps spice our benchmarks up a bit. Due to the video card reliance of some portions of the game, we have used the in-game Docks demo, which does show a performance impact based on the processor used.
Painkiller brings us back to the old "core speed is king" trends, at least as it applies to AMD processors. In a very tight race, the 2.8 GHz Athlon 64 FX-57 slips by the 2.6 GHz Athlon 64 FX-60, demonstrating again the differing levels of performance impact that these new dual core drivers actually have. That a dual core model 200 MHz slower can keep pace is a testament to their effectiveness, but it's still not as impressive as seeing the Athlon 64 FX-60 in the lead.
Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay is based on the movie franchise character of the same name, and provides a wild mix of kick-ass action and intriguing game environment. This hybrid game is similar to what Half-Life 2 brought to the table, as you take the role of escaped con Riddick, and fight your through some exceptionally rendered levels. This is another game we continue to experiment with, as increasing the Shader Model to over 2.0 can bring the game to a crawl, and even at our standard setting of Shader 2.0, it can still push a system to its limit.
Chronicles of Riddick follows along with Painkiller, and shows the Athlon 64 FX-60 in second place, just behind the Athlon 64 FX-57. But again, this lead is certainly not very large, but CoR also seems to be a game that doesn't yield significant returns with the enhanced video card drivers.