Graphics Card + CPU, Part 5
February 19, 2009
We proceed with a series of practical articles (see also this and this material), in which we analyze sufficiency of various CPU+GPU combinations for games, trying to keep our test conditions as close to popular realia as possible. We hope that such articles will come in handy to readers willing to reasonably distribute their budget between a graphics card and a processor.
There was a break in our publications, because only a few new cards rolled out in Autumn in this price range (and in the entire market of graphics processors). We can mention only Radeon HD4670 (this card is really worth its price according to our tests) and Radeon HD4830 that will also attract thrifty users.
There is a different kind of activity on the other side of the Mid-End price range -- memory volumes grow, overclocked cards roll out based on the most successful GPU in 2008: Radeon HD4850. Is it really expedient, or is it better to pay some more for HD4870, which can easily combine increased operating frequencies and high memory volume? Nominal frequencies of this GPU exceed overclocked values for the 4850.
So we decided to squeeze these two topics into our article. We'll use graphics cards from HIS. What concerns processors, we've added some triple- and quad-core Phenoms, which come with very attractive price tags now. We'd like to see how these processors perform "in the field", considering good results of Athlon X2 processors versus equally-priced rivals from Intel, including the popular E7200. Note that even the cheapest Phenoms are often faster than higher-clocked Athlons in games. Besides, a higher number of cores makes them more promising products.
Testbeds and software
- Sempron X2 2100 (1.8GHz, 2 x 256KB L2, HT1600)
- Athlon X2 4800 (2.5GHz, 2 x 512KB L2, HT2000)
- Athlon X2 6000 (3.0GHz, 2 x 1MB L2, HT2000)
- Phenom X3 8750 (2.4GHz, 3 x 512KB L2, 2MB L3, HT3600)
- Phenom X4 9850 (2.5GHz, 4 x 512KB L2, 2MB L3, HT4000)
- Gigabyte MA770-DS3H motherboard (AMD 770 chipset)
- 2 x 1GB Hynix DDR2-800 CL5 SDRAM
- 250GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 SATA HDD, 7200rpm
- Chieftec 450W PSU
- Windows Vista Ultimate (32 bit), ATI Catalyst 8.11
- 3DMark Vantage (Default settings, Performance)
- S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 1.003 (GSC Game World/THQ) -- DirectX 9.0, maximum quality settings (dynamic lighting enabled); demo; copy files to the savegames folder, run the game, load level 'ixbt3', and type "demo_play ixbt3" in the console.
- Company Of Heroes (Relic Entertainment/THQ) -- DirectX 9.0, Shaders 2.0, maximum quality settings; run the game, invoke graphics settings and click the Test button.
- Call Of Juarez (Techland/Ubisoft) -- DirectX 10, Shaders 3.0 (HDR); benchmark.
- Crysis (Crytek) -- DirectX 10, High, Crytek Built-in; benchmark
- World in Conflict (Sierra) -- DirectX 10, High, built-in benchmark
- Devil May Cry 4 (Capcom) -- DirectX 10, Maximum, built-in benchmark
- Unreal Tournament 3 (Epic Games) -- DirectX 10, 5 Details Level, 5 Textures Level, CTF-coret; benchmark.
All games were tested at 1680x1050, which is considered the typical resolution for popular 20" LCD monitors. Antialiasing (4x) and anisotropic filtering (16x) options were forced in the drivers.
We've run the tests for all combinations of graphics cards and processors.
For your convenience, you can use the interactive calculator below.
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