However, even if the Mini-ITX platform from AMD is not as fast in processor tests, it has another trump to play: high-quality contemporary Radeon HD 4250 graphics core supporting DirectX 10.1 built into AMD 880G chipsets. Intel’s HD Graphics core inside Clarkdale processors supports only DirectX 10 and has image quality issues in many contemporary 3D games.
As for the performance of the integrated graphics cores, both our tested platforms showed the following results:
AMD platform performs very well in gaming tests. Sometimes, ASUS M4A88T-I Deluxe mainboard on AMD 880G chipset even manages to outpace Intel H55 based platform with Core i3 and Core i5 processors. And the fact that AMD platform uses slower processors doesn’t really affect the results of the gaming tests that much.
By the way, we often notice one very interesting effect in games: as the number of processor cores increases the gaming performance may actually drop. The reasons for that lie with the way the integrated graphics core works, as it uses part of the system memory for its needs. As a result, the GPU communicates with the video memory along the same bus as the CPU. But multi-core processors that do not have a shared cache also use the system memory to transfer data between the computational cores. Therefore, quad-core Athlon II X4 processors create bigger “parasitic” load on the memory bus than CPUs with fewer cores. As a result, the graphics core slows down, because in reality it gets less memory bandwidth, if the system has a CPU with multiple cores in it. To eliminate this issue AMD suggests using a special buffer called SidePort Memory on their mainboard, however, there simply wasn’t enough space for it on ASUS M4A88T-I Deluxe.
As far as Intel processors are concerned, the advantage of Core i5-661 over Core i3-530 can be explained by the fact that the graphics core of the former works at higher clock frequency, which is a peculiarity of this specific CPU model.