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 is old school to the hilt, and we don't expect many of the NVIDIA dual core driver enhancements to have much effect. This game test rewards pure power, without as much regard for new features or options. As such, the top scores of the Athlon 64 FX-57 and Pentium 4-3.73 GHz single core models is hardly a surprising development, although the Athlon 64 FX-60 is certainly no slouch in this department, and takes over third spot with a very impressive score. This also provides us with baseline performance levels, to compare against newer games.
Unreal Tournament 2003 includes a benchmark program that automatically tests in two separate modes. The one we're going to be looking at is Flyby, which takes a canned tour of the UT game world, then offers up a framerate score and really hammers both the CPU and video card. The Botmatch results are no longer shown, instead leaving that for the improved Unreal Tournament 2004 to supply.
UT 2003 may not exactly be a brand-new game, but we see very different benchmark scores than in Quake 3. This time, the dual core processors show a relative advantage to their single-core brethren, and the 2.6 GHz Athlon 64 FX-60 comes within a hair of matching the score of the 2.8 GHz Athlon 64 FX-57. This is still not where we'd like to be in terms of gaming performance, but it is improving.
Unreal Tournament 2004 is an upgraded version of the popular UT series, and includes support for Botmatch demos. This is the next evolution for Unreal Tournament graphics and performance, and is yet another serious test for current PC hardware. Botmatch performance is also more reflective of CPU power than Flyby, giving UT 2004 special significance in processor testing. For this benchmark, we've used the UMark GUI interface with the following options and settings: 3 Botmatch maps, 12 players and maximum detail graphics.
Unreal Tournament 2004 continues our transition from old school to new, and the benchmarking shows off some very different results. Gone is the advantage of even the higher-clocked Athlon 64 FX-57, and the Athlon 64 FX-60 not only erases the 200 MHz gap, but surpasses its score and takes top spot overall. This is true on the Intel side as well, with the 3.45 GHz Pentium EE 955 outpacing the 3.73 GHz Pentium 4 EE.