In Part 1 of our 3D Performance with Oblivion
series of articles, we took a look at Oblivion’s performance with the latest high-end graphics cards and found that ATI’s Radeon X1900 XTX card delivered the best overall performance in Bethesda’s latest RPG. In Part 2
, NVIDIA closed in on ATI – the margins between the top performers from each manufacturer were much closer – but the Radeon X1800 GTO still came out ahead due in large part to its performance in our foliage demo testing. If you recall, the foliage area is the most graphically-intensive section that we test with. It consists of our character walking through a forest with lots of trees and thick, tall foliage and other vegetation which sways in different directions with the wind. In our testing so far we’ve found that ATI’s Radeon X1K series cards tend to handle perform in this area better than NVIDIA’s latest GeForce boards, in contrast the GeForce cards run a little more competitively with the ATI Radeon cards in our indoors testing.
That’s a quick summary of what we’ve learned so far. Up for today we’re going to be taking a look at how big of a role the CPU plays on Oblivion performance. Bethesda has claimed that Oblivion takes advantage of today’s latest dual-core processors, making it one of the first games on the market to take advantage of this feature out-of-the-box, no patches are necessary. We were curious to see how much of an impact dual-core CPUs have on performance, if any. In addition, we’ve also run CPU scaling tests over a wide range of clock speeds, as well as L2 cache tests, to see how much of a performance improvement processors with a larger 1MB L2 cache has on performance.
One area where this article is a little different than the others is in its scope. Whereas the previous two articles were more like shootouts with ATI and NVIDIA going head-to-head, in this article we’re going to attempt to provide more of a guide to help you determine what type of processor you should be looking for. To keep this simple, we’ve decided to stick solely with AMD’s Athlon 64 line of CPUs. Why AMD over Intel? Since their introduction, AMD’s Athlon 64 CPUs have been a huge hit with gamers due to their superior performance and competitive pricing; AMD’s Athlon 64 CPUs also tend to run cooler than competing Intel processors. As a result, most gamers in the market to upgrade have been plucking up AMD CPUs: for most it’s not a question of which CPU they should get AMD or Intel, but which AMD CPU to buy? Hopefully this article will help answer some of those questions.
Before we get started on the benchmarks though, we’d like to provide a quick refresher for those who may not have the feature set of AMD’s current CPU lineup memorized. As you look over the benchmarks on the following pages, those of you who aren’t as well-versed in AMD’s model number methodology may want to flip back to this chart for reference:
|AMD Socket 939 CPU Comparison|
|Model Number||Frequency||L2 Cache Size|
|X2 4800+||2.4GHz||1MB per core|
|X2 4600+||2.4GHz||512KB per core|
|X2 4400+||2.2GHz||1MB per core|
|X2 4200+||2.2GHz||512KB per core|
|X2 3800+||2.0Ghz||512KB per core|
|FX-60||2.6GHz||1MB per core|
|Opteron 165||1.8GHz||1MB per core|