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The largest overall separation in performance comes in Unreal Tournament 3, although each processor still delivered playable performance. Our other CPU-limited game, World In Conflict, also shows a large performance difference, although the overall total is reduced by the more GPU-limited AA and AF settings. Crysis and Supreme Commander are quite GPU limited, and with the Radeon HD 4870, details will need to be reduced to find playable levels.
Switching to the more powerful Radeon HD 4870 X2 paints a very different picture in Crysis than the one seen above. Supreme Commander is still mainly GPU-limited. We see some slight differences, but the true story is missed in this chart since the game is now completely playable with all four processors. Notice how the lone dual-core processor trails significantly in every game, indicating that each of these games seems to benefit from having at least three cores.
The overall total games percentage can be somewhat misleading without also looking at the performance in each individual game. But the average could arguably still be a useful gauge, as unplayable GPU-limited situations like Supreme Commander balance out the massive victory seen in the easily playable Unreal Tournament 3.
The Phenom X4 9950 BE is able to blow past the Athlon 7750 BE and even catch the Phenom X3 720BE in A/V encoding because of its performance in thread-optimized envionments, such as DivX and MainConcept. Similarly, the quad-core processor’s overall application average is boosted with faster 3ds Max and AVG 8 times.
To keep the same weighting as the SBM series of articles, only the Radeon HD 4870 X2 gaming results are factored into the combined score. It’s no surprise that the overclockable quad-core Phenom II X4 940 Black Edition takes the top position in this performance roundup. Of course, it’s also the most expensive option here and may be out of range for some users.
Deciding second place is not nearly as easy and will need to be left up to the individual user. Gamers, or those seeking lower power consumption and less heat, should opt for the Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition with additional L3 cache and the ability to reach higher-core speeds. Non-gamers running threaded applications might feel that it’s better to use AMD’s former power-hungry heavyweight, the Phenom X4 9950 Black Edition. There may be others who simply can’t afford any of these options, and will find the Athlon 7750 able to meet their needs.