The second part of our benchmarking suite moves into the game arena, using a set of four popular benchmarks (Unreal Tournament 2004, FarCry, DOOM 3, and F.E.A.R.). As high-end game performance more a function of the graphics card and CPU, isolating the platform component can be difficult, so keep an eye on even the smallest framerate differences.
Unreal Tournament 2004 is an upgraded version of the popular UT series, and includes support for Botmatch demos. This is the current iteration for Unreal Tournament graphics and performance, and is yet another nice test for current PC hardware. Botmatch performance is also more reflective of CPU power than Flyby, which should give platform and memory performance a bit more impact. For this benchmark, we've tested with the following options and settings: 3 Botmatch maps, 12 players and maximum detail graphics.
The Unreal Tournament 2004 test results fail to show a noticeable framerate difference, but we again see the Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 eke out the victory with dual channel DDR2-800 memory. The Gigabyte board also takes second place, this time paired with DDR2-1066, while the Intel 975X drops to third. There is also a slight gap between the DDR2-667 and DDR2-800 scores, but as expected, there is not a lot of difference from top to bottom.
FarCry is a hot 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 high-end DDR2 a slightly 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.
FarCry is one of the best games at highlighting overall platform, memory and subsystem performance, and the benchmark results do show an advantage for some of the motherboards. The Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3/DDR2-800 combo posts the fastest score, and takes second as well when outfitted with DDR2-1066.
DOOM 3 continues in a long line of id Software Quake and DOOM first-person shooters. This latest installment is one serious 3D game test, including potentially the highest-end graphics yet seen on the PC. This game benchmark has a serious reliance on the 3D video cards, which makes it less-than an optimum current memory performance test, but there is still some level of dependency.
DOOM 3 follows the same pattern, and again we see the Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 and DDR2-800 platform in the lead, but with only a slim framerate advantage over the other competitors.
F.E.A.R. features jaw-dropping graphics and a physics engine that can bring any system to its knees. The game even includes a wide selection of System and Video settings, along with an in-game testing module to keep things 100% comparable. In this case, as we are dealing with memory performance, we have racked the system and physics settings to maximum, while lowering the graphics quotient to medium, in an attempt to defuse any GPU limitations, while working the CPU-memory subsystem to the max.
The F.E.A.R. performance results are also bunched very close together, but these still offer the same basic performance structure, with the Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3/DDR2-800 combo in the lead, albeit only slightly.