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Testbed and Methods

We are going to compare the performance of Intel processor with Nehalem microarchitecture on two testbeds, which were built on different mainboards, memory modules configuration and, of course, CPUs.

Intel LGA1366 platform:

  • Intel Core i7-975 Extreme Edition processor (3.33 GHz, 6.4 GT/s QPI);  
  • Gigabyte GA-EX58-Extreme mainboard (Intel X58 Express chipset);
  • Corsair XMS3-12800C9 (3 x 2 GB, 1333 MHz, 9-9-9-24, 2T).

Intel LGA1156 platform:

  • Intel Core i5-750 processor (2.66 GHz, 2.4 GT/s DMI);  
  • Intel DP55KG mainboard (Intel P55 Express chipset);
  • Corsair XMS3-12800C9 (2 x 2 GB, 1333 MHz, 9-9-9-24, 2T).

Other system components were identical and included the following:

  • Scythe SCKTN-3000 Katana 3 CPU cooler;
  • Samsung Spinpoint F1 HDD (1 TB, 32 MB buffer, SATA II);
  • Ultra X4 850 W Modular power supply;
  • Dell 3007WFP monitor (30", 2560x1600 @ 60 Hz max display resolution);
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit;
  • Nvidia GeForce 197.41 WHQL for Nvidia GeForce;
  • ATI Catalyst 10.4 for ATI Radeon HD.

The ATI Catalyst and Nvidia GeForce graphics card drivers were configured in the following way:

ATI Catalyst:

  • Smoothvision HD: Anti-Aliasing: Use application settings/Box Filter
  • Catalyst A.I.: Standard
  • Mipmap Detail Level: High Quality
  • Wait for vertical refresh: Always Off
  • AAMode: Quality
  • Other settings: default

Nvidia GeForce:

  • Texture filtering – Quality: High quality
  • Texture filtering – Trilinear optimization: Off
  • Texture filtering – Anisotropic sample optimization: Off
  • Vertical sync: Force off
  • Antialiasing - Gamma correction: On
  • Antialiasing - Transparency: Multisampling
  • Set PhysX GPU acceleration: Enabled
  • Ambient Occlusion: Off
  • Other settings: default

Below is the list of games and test applications we used during this test session:

First-Person 3D Shooters

  • Battlefield: Bad Company 2
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  • Crysis Warhead
  • Far Cry 2
  • Metro 2033
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat
  • Wolfenstein

Third-Person 3D Shooters

  • Just Cause 2
  • Resident Evil 5
  • Street Fighter IV

RPG

  • Mass Effect 2

Simulators

  • Colin McRae: Dirt 2
  • Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Strategies

  • BattleForge
  • World in Conflict: Soviet Assault

Semi-synthetic and synthetic Benchmarks

  • Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

We selected the highest possible level of detail in each game using standard tools provided by the game itself from the gaming menu. The games configuration files weren’t modified in any way, because the ordinary user doesn’t have to know how to do it. We ran the tests in the following resolutions: 1600x900, 1920x1080 and 2560x1600. Unless stated otherwise, everywhere, where it was possible we added MSAA 4x antialiasing to the standard anisotropic filtering 16x. We enabled antialiasing from the game’s menu. If this was not possible, we forced them using the appropriate driver settings of ATI Catalyst and Nvidia GeForce drivers.

Since there is an enormous number of graphics card models available to us these days, we tried to make sure that each of the two major players in the discrete gaming graphics market is represented by super-powerful flagship solutions, as well as comparatively affordable mainstream models, which are popular among users with limited budget. As a result we ended up with three graphics accelerators from each: ATI and Nvidia:

  • ATI Radeon HD 5970
  • ATI Radeon HD 5850
  • ATI Radeon HD 5770
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 480
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 470
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 275

Performance was measured with the games’ own tools and the original demos were recorded if possible. We measured not only the average speed, but also the minimum speed of the cards where possible. Otherwise, the performance was measured manually with Fraps utility version 3.1.2. In the latter case we ran the test three times and took the average of the three for the performance charts.

 
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