Performance in First-Person 3D Shooters
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
The CPU does not affect the frame rate much in this game and its influence lowers at higher resolutions. The Core i7-975 EE is 6-9% ahead of the Core i5-750 in terms of average speed at 1600x900, but at 2560x1600 the gap is only 4% with the dual-processor card and within 1% with the single-GPU Radeon HD 5000 series models. It is at the lowest resolutions that the CPU affects the bottom speed the most. For the Radeon HD 5770, replacing the CPU with a faster one can already make sense then, but we guess that purchasing a faster graphics card, e.g. a Radeon HD 5850, will be an even better solution.
It’s different with the Nvidia products. For example, the senior GeForce series model will perform better with a top-end CPU: the difference between the two CPU models we use in this test session can be as large as 30% (in favor of the Core i7-975 EE, of course). The GeForce GTX 470 depends less on the CPU whereas the previous-generation architecture does not benefit much from the faster CPU because the frame rate seems to be limited by the graphics card itself. The graphics card’s role grows up naturally as the display resolution gets higher, but the new GeForce TX 400 series models perform better when coupled with a top-speed CPU. The only exception is the extreme resolution of 2560x1600 pixels where this difference is reduced to naught. Anyway, the GeForce GTX 400 will benefit from a top-end CPU whereas the Radeon HD 5850, for example, can do just fine without one. By the way, this may be an indication of higher efficiency of the AMD Catalyst driver over the Nvidia GeForce one.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
The AMD products are somewhat more CPU-dependent in this game, the maximum effect from the faster CPU amounting to 15% and higher – with the Radeon HD 5970 at 1600x900. This effect is no higher than 7% at the higher resolutions, though, and is really hard to see at all at 2560x1600. Even the Radeon HD 5770 speeds up by a mere 3% with the faster CPU then, the bottom speed remaining roughly the same. Thus, the wise solution is to save on the CPU and invest the money into a better graphics card.
It’s different with the Nvidia cards. They become increasingly more CPU-dependent as the display resolution grows up, which is especially conspicuous with the GeForce GTX 400 series: the senior and junior models enjoy a performance boost of 43% and 30%, respectively, in terms of average frame rate. The Core i7-975 EE can even make the game comfortable to play on the GeForce GTX 275 at 2560x1600! Perhaps this is some future potential which Nvidia can untap by releasing new and optimized drivers.