Sunday, March 19, 2006

Tech Link (Processor): Intel Dual-Core Gaming Performance Analysis

Someone beat me to doing a single-core versus dual-core gaming benchmark comparison. I am actually collecting and tabulating all the data that I have, I guess it's good as I can actually compare my own findings versus the one made by Neoseeker.

The article focus on Intel® Pentium® 4 and Intel® Pentium® D processors, having the same clock frequency and both overclocked to 4GHz. For video-card, both single-card and SLI-type will be pitted against each other, to find out how SLI performs under single-core and dual core platform. The line up of gaming benchmarks includes 3DMark06, DOOM 3, Call of Duty 2, F.E.A.R, Splinter Cell Chaos Theory, and Serious Sam 2.

Unfortunately, using SLI means they have to forgo with Intel®-chipset-based motherboard since Intel® only official supports ATI's Crossfire on its i955-based and i975-based motherboard. Also, I would have preferred if they do actual experienced-based subjective testing, like having an anti-virus running on the background, downloading stuff off the net, sharing files to family members at the living room, and even have IM and also do stuff like distributed running on the background. In my opinion, this is where dual core really shines rather than waiting for games to take advantage of it, the user can already take advantage of it by doing multitude of tasks without being a geek and checking which applications he/she needs to close/turn off just to have smoother computing experience.

While it is true that in gaming, often times other applications has to be turned off to speed up loading, and remove bottleneck, but with the onslaught of more and more trojans, virus, and hackers, some background tasks can not just be turned off. Sure, a separate box or a router can do that, but with the rules of security, it never hurts to be paranoid and keep your system away from security breach.

So while the benchmarks are shown and analyzed in an objective manner, think beyond geek stuff and look at the consumer level type of usage. Then fit yourself in their shoes. Then do those benchmarks and compare the experience, whether gaming or just plain multi tasking with your OS.

Testing has shown that while dual-core and gaming can be a lucrative deal, it really only gets useful if the rest of your system is already powerful enough, and simply being held back by your current CPU. This means that your video card and memory subsystems have to be plenty fast -- in the order of SLI, we saw, if you've already got a fast CPU that you feel is holding you back. Even in the case of mostly single-threaded games (most of which are), Windows can offload its internal housekeeping and driver tasks to the second core, allowing your game to enjoy a minor performance bump on the first core that it would then have all to itself. When games start getting multi-threaded, a dual-core CPU will provide an even larger performance bump.


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