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Test Systems And Benchmarks

Gamers: Do You Need More Than An Athlon II X3?

We wanted to keep the comparisons crystal clear, so we're going to make it simple. We're pitting AMD's Athlon II X3 440 against a Core i7-920. Yes, the Core i7-920 costs more than three times as much as the Athlon II X3 440, but remember that game performance will be bottlenecked to a large extent by the graphics subsystem.

As far as graphics cards go, we test two configurations: one with a single Radeon HD 5850 and the other with two Radeon HD 5870s in CrossFire. We test the games across 1280x1024, 1680x1050, 1920x1080, and 2560x1600 resolutions.

Because the Core i7-920 utilizes triple-channel memory, we use three 1GB sticks for a total of 3GB of RAM. The dual-channel AMD platform will use two 2GB sticks for a total of 4GB. From our experience, the single gigabyte of RAM difference should have no effect on gaming performance, but if we see any disparity, we will make note of memory usage. The RAM timings and speed are identical between both systems.

We're using the Gigabyte MA790XT-UD4P motherboard with an Athlon II X3 440 and the ASRock X58 SuperComputer with Intel's Core i7-920. Note that the 790X chipset on the Athlon board can't support full 16x PCI Express (PCIe) bandwidth for each graphics card. To keep things comparable, we put the second Radeon HD 5870 in a PCIe slot with 8x bandwidth when using CrossFire on the ASRock X58 board. 

AMD Test System
Intel Test System

AMD Athlon II X3 440 (Deneb)
3.0 GHz, FSB-200 MHz

Intel Core i7-920 (Nehalem)
2.67 GHz, QPI-4200, 8MB Shared L3 Cache


Gigabyte GA-MA790XT-UD4P
  AMD790X, BIOS F7

ASRock X58 SuperComputer
Intel X58, BIOS P1.90

Onboard Gigabit LAN controller

Onboard Gigabit LAN controller


Mushkin PC3-10700
 4GB Dual-Channel 2 x 2,048MB,
DDR3-1340, CL 9-9-9-24-1T

Kingston PC3-10700
3GB Triple-Channel 3 x 1,024MB,
DDR3-1066, CL 8-8-8-19-1T


Sapphire Radeon HD 5850
725 MHz GPU, 1GB GDDR5 RAM at 1,000 MHz

Hard Drive

Western Digital Caviar WD50 00AAJS-00YFA
500GB, 7,200 RPM, 8MB cache, SATA 3.0 Gb/s


Thermaltake Toughpower 1,200W
1,200W, ATX 12V 2.2, EPS 12v 2.91

Software and Drivers
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit
DirectX versionDirectX 11
Graphics Drivers

ATI Catalyst 10.3

Benchmark Configuration

3D Games


Patch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 32-bit executable,
benchmark tool, High Settings, No AA, No AF

Far Cry 2

DirectX 10, in-game benchmark
Ultra-High Settings, No AA, No AF

S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat

Ultra High Preset, DirectX 11, EFDL, no MSAA, Sunshafts Benchmark

World In Conflict: Soviet Assault

DirectX 10, timedemo
Very High Details, 4x AA/4x AF

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