Articles: CPU

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Testbed and Methods

First of all we have to select the CPUs, which will take part in the second round of our tests today. The major theory proven in our previous article states that all the high-end and mainstream processors provide pretty much the same level of gaming performance. Therefore, this time we will not all the 28 CPUs retested. This time we will only go for the eldest and youngest CPU models in the Athlon 64 and Pentium 4 processor families, and will also add here two dual-core processors, one from each of the rivalry camps.

As for the Budget CPUs, which will participate in this test session alongside with they high-end fellows definitely boast a much more numerous representation. The thing is that these CPUs tend to have much greater influence on the overall gaming performance. We took three models from the AMD Sempron and three from Intel Celeron D processor families: the top mode, the slowest model and one model in-between. Moreover, to make sure we get very illustrative results we also added Athlon 64 for Socket 754 to our group of testing participants.

Of course, we couldn’t disregard overclocking this time. Among the obtained results you can find some numbers taken for the systems with the overclocked Sempron, Celeron D and Pentium 4 CPUs. We tried to overclock these processors to some typical values, such as 3.8GHz for Celeron D, 2.6GHz for Sempron and 4.2GHz for Pentium 4. Here we didn’t test the overclocked Athlon 64, because the typical value for Athlon 64 overclocking is 2.8GHz, which is the working frequency of Athlon 64 FX-57. And this CPU participates in our tests anyway.

I should also say a few words about the graphics settings in the gaming applications we used this time. Since our primary goal was the measure the CPU performance with the real settings used by gamers out there, we started with 1280x1024 screen resolution with enabled 4x full-screen anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering with the maximum quality settings. Most games worked quite fine with these settings on the NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT graphics card we had in our testbed. However, if we failed to reach the acceptable fps rate with these settings in any of the games (we considered 40-60 fps to be the minimum acceptable gaming performance), we reduced the screen resolution to 1024x768 and repeated the tests with the same image quality settings.

We decided not to test the CPUs with a slower graphics card than NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT. We believe these tests do not make any sense, because in case of a slower graphics card we will have to agree to less aggressive graphics quality settings in order to achieve the same acceptable performance rate of 40-60fps. So, the quality picture of the CPU performance in case of a slower graphics subsystem would hardly be any different.

So, let’s sum up and list all the hardware components that were involved in our today’s test session:

  • CPUs:
    1. AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ (Socket 939, 2.0 GHz, 2 x 512KB L2, E6 core revision aka Manchester);
    2. AMD Athlon 64 FX-57 (Socket 939, 2.8 GHz, 1024KB L2, E4 core revision aka San Diego);
    3. AMD Athlon 64 3200+ (Socket 939, 2.0 GHz, 512KB L2, E3 core revision aka Venice);
    4. AMD Athlon 64 3200+ (Socket 754, 2.0 GHz, 1024KB L2, CG core revision aka ClawHammer);
    5. AMD Sempron 3400+ (Socket 754, 2.0 GHz, 256KB L2, E6 core revision aka Palermo);
    6. AMD Sempron 3000+ (Socket 754, 1.8 GHz, 128KB L2, E6 core revision aka Palermo);
    7. AMD Sempron 2800+ (Socket 754, 1.6 GHz, 256KB L2, E6 core revision aka Palermo);
    8. Intel Pentium D 820 (LGA775, 2.8 GHz, 2 x 1MB L2);
    9. Intel Pentium 4 670 (LGA775, 3.8 GHz, 2MB L2);
    10. Intel Pentium 4 630 (LGA775, 3.0 GHz, 2MB L2);
    11. Intel Celeron D 351 (LGA775, 3.2 GHz, 256KB L2);
    12. Intel Celeron D 336 (LGA775, 2.8 GHz, 256KB L2);
    13. Intel Celeron D 326 (LGA775, 2.53 GHz, 256KB L2);
  • Mainboards:
    • DFI LANParty UT NF4 Ultra-D (NVIDIA nForce4 Ultra);
    • ASUS K8N4-E (Socket 754, NVIDIA nForce4-4x);
    • ASUS P5LD2 Deluxe (LGA775, Intel 945P Express).
  • Memory:
    • 2048MB DDR400 SDRAM (Corsair CMX1024-3500LLPRO, 2 x 1024 MB, 2-3-2-10);
    • 2048MB DDR2-667 SDRAM (Corsair CM2X1024-6400PRO, 2 x 1024 MB, 3-3-3-12).
  • Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT 256MB (PCI-E x16).
  • Storage subsystem: Maxtor MaXLine III 250GB (SATA150).
  • Operating system: Microsoft Windows XP SP2 с DirectX 9.0c.

The tests were carried out with the BIOS Setup of the mainboards used adjusted for maximum performance.

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