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Dual Core and Gaming

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February 24, 2006 8:47:53 PM

I'm in the market for an AMD chip, and am hearing a bit of conflicting information about the DC procs. PC Gamer did an article about the X2 3800, saying it was a very good gamer, and "outright crushed" the Intel chips they were using for comparison when used for 3D gaming. When reading some buyer reviews for the 3800, some people were very bluntly saying that it's not really a gaming proc. I'm hearing how good it is at multi-tasking and the like, but that gaming can sometimes be hurt with dual cores. I'm confused. As you can see, I have a two year old P4, and, because of frequent gaming, would like to switch to AMD. I guess my other question would be this: Will this 3800 AMD handle other tasks besides gaming as well or better than the Intel I have? (let's try not to have too many Intel/AMD fireworks here. ;) 

More about : dual core gaming

February 24, 2006 9:17:22 PM

What that all depends on what tasks you're doing. If your doing encoding (video or audio), dual core is definitely beneficial. It's also beneficial in rendering. These are things in the now. Obviously heavy multitasking takes advantage of dual core as well.

CURRENT games do not benefit from dual core all that much. If you're looking for a current gaming CPU, Athlon 64 4000+ is the best way to go IMO. However- more games are taking advantage of dual core with each release.

My advice is to go dual core. Vista is gonna take advantage of it and so will future games. An Athlon 64 4000+ is just for the "now." It'll kick ass in most current games- but the jury is out on future games.

-mpjesse
February 24, 2006 9:24:49 PM

The answer to how well an X2 3800 runs in games depends on what game you are playing. For games that only utilise a single core (Most of them at the moment) you will get the speed of a single core (2Ghz with 512L2 works out to be about the 3000+ give or take) but with some of the much newer games move extra threads over to the second core. I currently use an X2 4400 and when playing most game only get 50% processor usage. Making my 4400 perform like a slower chip. I have had some games that are meant to support dual core use slightly more but still only about 60%.

In summery it’s basically depends on what games you play. Older ones will play better on single core chips while newer one may perform better on dual core.
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February 24, 2006 9:34:57 PM

Another thing to remember here is that you could easily overclock 300-500mhz.
February 24, 2006 9:52:43 PM

i have a 3800x2 it plays good but sometime i get anoying little chops in game play. i understand that this has something to do with windows power management. i use rightmark's cpu clock utility to control my cpu speed and set it to full speed and the chop goes away. i should just leave it at full speed all of the time because my core voltage is set to 1.15v.
February 24, 2006 10:39:03 PM

A possibility (other then lack of speed) for choppy frame rates using duel core is down to the way that windows handles the games threads. A possible way to solve this on single core games it to set the affinity to one of the cores. (Happens on NFS:MW). Just Alt tab out the game find the process right click -> set affinity -> and un-tick one of the cores. This forces the Game to run on one core completely.
February 25, 2006 3:31:29 PM

disabling cool an quiet does more than setting the affinity, at least for me. doing both in a singal thead game gives the best preformance.
February 25, 2006 3:35:41 PM

That is very true. I use a 7800GT with my opty 165 and my online and offline games rock. Dual core is the way to go these days. Compared to even a single core AMD, my dual core is just as good.
February 25, 2006 4:12:54 PM

But but but... I wanna quad core... :cry: 

That way I can play a game, rip/burn some music, defrag my hds, and vnc to my linux box, all at the same time, and make hot water to brew some coffee.

okay... maybe I want too much at this time.

:? <-- picks up mouse, and says "Computa? oh... computa?"
a b à CPUs
February 25, 2006 4:26:58 PM

"Will this 3800 AMD handle other tasks besides gaming as well or better than the Intel I have? (let's try not to have too many Intel/AMD fireworks here."

The X2-3800 is essentially a pair of A64/3200+ cores on a single die; even with games/drivers not optimized for dual cores, the performance in many games might be a little better than a 3G Northwood "C" model..; once multitasking comes into play, the X2 is even better yet...

That being said, I'd look for an Opty 165 over an x2-3800, then later atempt overclocking it to 2.4- 2.5G or so, whch would essentially equal a 4800+/Opty 180 in performance
February 25, 2006 4:54:25 PM

Yeah, go for the opty. It OC's nice and runs cool. The average OC on air is 2.6-2.7 on air which puts it up there with the FX60 for the most part. So far, i'm up to 2.2 with mine and its very stable.
February 25, 2006 5:33:31 PM

I have an x2 3800 and although initially i wasnt please, once i started playing games everything ran wonderfully on full settings, and the 3800 is very overclockable!!
February 25, 2006 5:35:42 PM

I think you AMD guys should be buying the highend stuff, rather then the cheap processors, and over clocking the hell out of em... :lol: 

Come on... were is da love for AMD profits??
February 25, 2006 5:45:23 PM

lol, budgets!!!
February 26, 2006 7:58:11 PM

hey, I can get an X2 4200 or a 4000 for the same price...Im somewhat interested in overclocking, and I hear that most 4200's can oc quite easily to 2.5 Ghz or more on stock cooling. HOWEVER, id like to avoid ocing for as long as possible, until I get a game where i just need that bit more speed. Gaming is my primary interest, but I also like to do some basic multitasking, such as running media player, IE, dl'ing music, running messenger and etc. ANy thoughts?

So, would it be best to go with the 4200 and OC (despite smaller cache and 2.2 stock speed)? I have a BFG 7800 GT here, so the graphics card is pretty decent. lol, im upgrading from a P4 1.5 Ghz with a Nvidia TNT2 dinosaur.

ALso, I was wondering if the 4400's extra cache would be worth a 25% increase in processor cost. Ive looked at the benchmarks on the CPU charts here, and there isnt a huge difference in gaming, on current games. But im wondering, would an upcoming game, such as Oblivion, make better use of additional cache? Just wondering. I also hear the 4400's run hotter than 4200's (?) and if I want to OC, would that be an issue without any extra cooling.

ALso, the retailer id be getting to assemble my cpu doesnt carry Opterons, so they arent an option for me.
February 26, 2006 8:38:30 PM

For gaming, 9 times out of 10, your GPU will be your bottle neck, so overclocking the CPU won't help, or atleast, not give you tangible benefits (.5 fps extra, who cares). That goes for either the 4200 or the 4000. Secondly, extra cache, again, CPU bottleneck, .5 fps, etc.

As for your multi-tasking: MP3's, music, messenger, etc. all have minimal effects on your CPU, so if you're going dual-core purely cause you run these while gaming, that's a waste. however, SMP is the future of comptuer tech, so seeing how old your last rig is since being upgraded, getting the dual-core now would be good future proofing.

As well, go with 2 GB of RAM, cause once you get hte dual-core, you'll find yourself doing true-multi-tasking that you wouldn't have ever considered before, and you'll want that extra RAM to run with.
February 26, 2006 8:55:10 PM

i'm too late agian :cry:  stupid logitech :evil:  cant they make a keyboard that does'nt break :!:
February 27, 2006 6:45:32 PM

Yeah, everything you say makes sense. When browsing these forums and reading a dozen hardware reviews its pretty easy to be influenced by hardcore opinions that are really splitting hairs when they compare processors. The practical difference probably isnt going to be huge, the price being paid is more for the piece of mind that comes from buying what is considered a higher grade product. I think the 4200 might be my best bet, given the relative pricing from this particular retailer.

Your system is 'fairly' similar to one im designing, except you have a better GPU (7800GTX as opposed to GT). How do you find it for gaming?
February 27, 2006 7:12:51 PM

Although it is true that a Dual Core CPU won't impact the performance of a single threaded game running in lab like conditions (no background tasks running), a definite improvement can be seen when running multiple game clients (popular with hardcore MMO players) or when multiple background applications can be competing for CPU time, including multitasking between video encoding or when running a distributed computing client (or all of the above in my case).

The software industry is feeling the pressure that is slowly pushing Dual Core CPUs to the mainstream market, it is likely that future games will feature SMT optimisations.
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