Now that we’ve taken a look
at how S.T.A.L.K.E.R. performs with over a dozen different mainstream graphics cards, today we’re going to evaluate the game’s performance with a wide variety of CPUs. As end users have quickly found out, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is a very demanding game, but is it more graphically intensive or does the game lean more CPU-bound? Perhaps it’s more of a 50/50 ratio? That’s what we’re here today to find out.
We’ll primarily be testing two configurations: a GeForce 7900 GTX SLI config, and a single GeForce 7900 GS. We’re still waiting on NVIDIA’s S.T.A.L.K.E.R. driver for the GeForce 8800 cards, which we’ve been told will bring improved GeForce 8800 GTX performance as well as adding GeForce 8 SLI support for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.. As it stands right now, a pair of 7900 GTX cards is slightly faster than a single GeForce 8800 GTX in our testing, although we expect that to change once NVIDIA’s new driver is ready.
By testing the GeForce 7900 GS and 7900 GTX SLI cards with CPUs ranging from the Athlon 64 X2 3600+ all the way up to the Core 2 Extreme, we should get a better idea of which CPU’s perform best with a high-end graphics setup, as well as a more conventional mainstream graphics config. That’s the goal at least.
Before we look into that though, we first want to examine the game’s multi-threading performance. According to the game’s readme, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has been built with multi-threading in mind:
Dual Core and Performance
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl should utilize your dual and quad core processor natively and automatically. Running a dual or quad core processor is one of the best ways to improve performance.
This came as a bit of a surprise to us, as none of our discussions with AMD or Intel had indicated that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. took advantage of multi-threading, and normally these guys like to keep up to date with which games and software applications are taking advantage of their quad-core processors. To test this out we ran a quad-core Core 2 Extreme QX6700 CPU at 2.93GHz with EVGA’s nForce 680i SLI motherboard. This motherboard’s BIOS supports the ability to enable or disable the processing cores, so we can simulate the performance of single-core, dual-core, and quad-core all from the same platform. Let’s see how well S.T.A.L.K.E.R. scales shall we?