Quake 4 is one of the most impatiently anticipated games of this year. The thing is that this shooter is a continuation of the world’s famous gaming sequel. Although Quake 4 is based on a modified Doom III gaming engine, it went quite far away from its forefather. You can tell it not only by the image quality and some other details in the game itself, but also by the system requirements set by the developers. In fact, this is the “heaviest” contemporary game of all judging by the resources consumption.
Quake 4 boasts very realistic gaming physics and pretty advanced artificial intelligence of the enemies and allies. I would also like to stress that Quake 4 has the best-balanced model of hardware resources utilization of all contemporary games (although I have to admit that event his model is far from ideal). As a result, the gaming performance in this 3D shooter is affected not only by the graphics subsystem but also by the system CPU. You can even see this influence in high resolutions and maximum graphics quality settings. In particular, we managed to test the CPUs in this game even with the Ultra Quality graphics settings: even in this case we could really see how the fps rate depends on the processor speed. However, to better illustrate the scalability of the obtained results, we still disabled full-screen anti-aliasing during our tests.
All in all, the processor performance numbers in Quake 4 are quite typical. Only the dual-core CPUs kind of stand out here, however we are going to talk about them later in this article. As for the performance results of the regular single-core processors, the situation is very similar to what we see in Serious Sam 2: the performance of Athlon 64 and Pentium 4 correlates just fine with the performance rating of the former. In other words, Pentium 4 processors yield slightly to the Athlon 64 with the performance rating corresponding to the frequency of their rival. In this respect we can state with all certainty that extreme gaming CPUs, AMD Athlon 64 FX, do not have any competitors in the Intel’s camp, because they are confidently ahead of all of them including Pentium 4 Extreme Edition.
However, the most interesting and unexpected results during Quake 4 test session appeared to be those of the dual-core processors. The graph below shows how the two CPU cores get loaded during Quake 4 gameplay. The graph was taken from the Athlon 64 X2 4800+ based platform.
As we see, even though Quake 4 originated from Doom III, where dual-core technology wasn’t supported at all, we can see a truly high-quality optimization of the gaming engine for the multi-core architectures. Looks like the software developers didn’t waste their time and modified the engine according to the latest innovations in the hardware world.
As a result, the maximum performance in Quake 4 was demonstrated by dual-core processors from AMD, which turned out even faster than even Athlon 64 FX. Maybe AMD engineers should start thinking about transferring their high-end solutions for wealthy hardware enthusiasts to dual-core architectures? Of course, the number of games benefiting from the two computational cores in a system will keep growing. And as we have seen in Quake 4, multi-core architectures can be quite efficient in games.
Even though the fps rate in Quake 4 depends a lot on the CPU speed, we have to admit that even the not very fast (according to today’s standards) Athlon 64 3000+ and Pentium 4 3.0GHz can offer quite acceptable performance numbers in this game. If the graphics subsystem is powerful enough, of course.
Besides different CPUs, we have also checked how the doubling of the system memory can affect the performance in Quake 4. The results obtained on a platform with Athlon 64 FX-57 were the following:
Formally, we cannot state that the gaming performance speeds up once the amount of system memory doubles. However, we have to mention that you can feel the gaming comfort improve noticeably as the game doesn’t request data from the hard disk drive as often any more, which is exactly what we have already pointed out during analogous experiments in other games.
In conclusion I would like to say that since Quake 4 is based on a modified Doom III engine, these games have a lot in common. However, Quake 4 leaves the impression of a better-planned shooter, so that it works slightly faster than its predecessor on the same test platforms and with the same settings. However, this is my subjective opinion, that may not be the universal truth :)