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Benchmark Results: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky

Core i5, Core i7, CrossFire, And SLI: Gaming Paradise, Redux?
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We’re kicking things off with S.T.A.L.K.E.R., one of the most graphically-challenging benchmarks in our suite (though at 1680x1050, you wouldn’t really know it, since all of our tested platforms achieve playable frame rates, and the addition of a second card doesn’t really do much for our five contenders).

Cranking the resolution up to 2560x1600 does demonstrate a more palpable reason to go for CrossFire or SLI, though.

The real kicker is that, from Core i7 to Core i5 to Phenom II, there’s literally zero difference between these configurations if you’re using a single GeForce GTX 285. One Radeon HD 4870 X2 favors the Nehalem architecture ever so slightly, but the two frames separating the Core 2 Quad from the Core i7-870 are hardly worth making a buying decision on.

What should be popping out at you, however, is how much of a difference CrossFire and SLI support make as we shift into our anti-aliased numbers. To all intents, constructions, and purposes, one ultra-powerful GeForce GTX 285 will turn back the same results in all five of these configurations. The same goes for the Radeon HD 4870 X2 compared down the line. Go for the cheapest motherboard and processor if gaming is your only concern, we say. Put the money saved toward another graphics card.

If that is, in fact, the route you take, note that at 1680x1050, two Radeon HD 4870 X2s and GeForce GTX 285s perform similarly. Only when you step up to 2650x1600 is there a bit of distance put between competing graphics architectures—in this case favoring ATI by a few frames.

As of this writing, a week before the P55 launch, the least-expensive Radeon HD 4870 X2 costs $369 on Newegg. The GeForce GTX 285 OCFU is a $389 board. Given ATI’s advantage in S.T.A.L.K.E.R., the Radeon is looking like a better buy at the high-end. Too bad it seems to be suffering limited availability (actually, that’s a good sign—next-gen, we’re looking forward to you!).

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Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    Anonymous , September 8, 2009 5:37 PM
    Pei-Chen: This article shobuld make it painfully obvious that AMD can and DOES compete on performance in games. AMD has brought plenty of innovation, even if they don't always finish first, but only for the CPU-based video rendering enthusiast does it make no sense to purchase AMD, the other 99.9% of us couldn't tell the difference in a taste test.

    PS: If you want a 3rd and 4th player, you should go discuss x86 licensing with your beloved Intel...
  • 12 Hide
    Anonymous , September 8, 2009 12:45 PM
    Let's be glad AMD is still around to provide competition to Intel. Gaming is obviously fine on either CPU, but some people say: "OMG, I must have the Core i7 because it can do the Monte Carlo simulation faster!!!". The performance difference between Core i7/Phenom II is marginal right now, but if AMD were to exit stage left, then these round ups would be VIA vs. Intel, and I don't know about you, but VIA's offerings really AREN'T fast enough for me... Consider a Phenom II, I love mine...
  • 11 Hide
    cangelini , September 8, 2009 6:26 AM
    The 955 does cost less. The 965 is more expensive than Core i5.
Other Comments
  • 1 Hide
    lashton , September 8, 2009 6:11 AM
    so we can assume for gaming the 965BE (or 955 oc) and ATi cards are just as fast as Core i7 and i5 but at a fraction of the price
  • 11 Hide
    cangelini , September 8, 2009 6:26 AM
    The 955 does cost less. The 965 is more expensive than Core i5.
  • 8 Hide
    Dekasav , September 8, 2009 6:28 AM
    Only thing I don't like is how you knock Crossfire with 2 HD 4870X2's, since when is it even feasible that 4-way CF would scale as well as 2-way SLI?

    But excellent review, overall, I'm actually surprised at how the 965BE did, I thought it'd be behind, where it was actually right in the pack.
  • -1 Hide
    dirtmountain , September 8, 2009 6:47 AM
    I would have liked to see a 780a or a 980a SLI motherboard used to check the SLI numbers on the P2 965BE. I'm also surprised there's no overclocking numbers in the comparison, is that article still to come out?
  • 9 Hide
    cangelini , September 8, 2009 6:51 AM
    It's upcoming dirt; Patrick is the one working on it (and our Italian team sent word of its i5 and i7s in excess of 4.2 GHz)
  • 5 Hide
    sudeshc , September 8, 2009 7:01 AM
    Nice game collection you got there.......:) 

    Great review.
  • 6 Hide
    anonymous x , September 8, 2009 7:04 AM
    Quote:
    Let us know what you think about this in the comments section, but it was pretty clear that Vista was never a favorite, so we're hoping Windows 7 is a more popular environment in which to test

    I like vista, rock solid and stable since I got it years ago. Don't listen to the bashers who never have tried the product.
  • 2 Hide
    lashton , September 8, 2009 8:50 AM
    You giotta remember vista is design for spoecific hardware and powerfull hardware that can run it, so people with P4 3GHz and vista complain about its speed, vista is OK, i dont like it cause my computer doesm't like it thats fine i get over it and chnage my OS
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , September 8, 2009 9:24 AM
    Thanks for weighing in, guys!
  • -8 Hide
    crash27 , September 8, 2009 10:32 AM
    So there's no benafit from adding a second 285 to a q9550s or an x4 965 be ??

    I get a good performance boost from my second gtx280 with my q9650 @ 4 gz
  • 4 Hide
    cangelini , September 8, 2009 10:40 AM
    crash--
    As mentioned in the story, these were tested on 790GX and X48 platforms, which don't do SLI. While there are Nvidia-based SLI platforms available for both configurations, I felt that they were quite a bit more rare and applicable to a much smaller contingent of readers than the CrossFire-capable platforms. The beauty of X58 and P55 is that they'll do both!
    Regards,
    Chris
  • 5 Hide
    jj463rd , September 8, 2009 11:04 AM
    Kudos for adding the Flight Simulator X as a benchmark.
  • 11 Hide
    San Pedro , September 8, 2009 12:27 PM
    Why so many tests today with 2 4870x2s?

    I'd rather have seen 4890 and then 4890CF. That way you see single card performance compared to crossfire instead of dual corssfire compared to quad crossfire.

    I do understand why the card is compared to the GTX 285 based on price though.
  • 12 Hide
    Anonymous , September 8, 2009 12:45 PM
    Let's be glad AMD is still around to provide competition to Intel. Gaming is obviously fine on either CPU, but some people say: "OMG, I must have the Core i7 because it can do the Monte Carlo simulation faster!!!". The performance difference between Core i7/Phenom II is marginal right now, but if AMD were to exit stage left, then these round ups would be VIA vs. Intel, and I don't know about you, but VIA's offerings really AREN'T fast enough for me... Consider a Phenom II, I love mine...
  • 7 Hide
    Pei-chen , September 8, 2009 3:20 PM
    competition_fanblokeLet's be glad AMD is still around to provide competition to Intel. Gaming is obviously fine on either CPU, but some people say: "OMG, I must have the Core i7 because it can do the Monte Carlo simulation faster!!!". The performance difference between Core i7/Phenom II is marginal right now, but if AMD were to exit stage left, then these round ups would be VIA vs. Intel, and I don't know about you, but VIA's offerings really AREN'T fast enough for me... Consider a Phenom II, I love mine...

    I wish there is a third and fourth player in the market so AMD won't sit on its butt and do nothing. AMD has this idea that “we don’t have to compete on performance, just make our product cheap enough and people will buy it”. That’s what doomed GM and Chrysler.

    I wish Nvidia and NEC join/rejoin the CPU market.
  • 2 Hide
    Scotteq , September 8, 2009 3:27 PM
    Thank you, Toms, for the detailed Graphics comparison. Yet regarding the comments section, I have to shake my head that we're again continuing the AMD versus Intel wars.

    I thought people should have learned by now that GPU~intensive tests say little about CPUs, except whether they're 'Good Enough', or not.
  • -8 Hide
    Sardaukarz , September 8, 2009 5:26 PM
    I wonder if u will ever include WOW in ur benchmark suite. Its just a MMORPG but it happens to be the most played game on the planet, thus making it interesting for a lot of us out there who are looking on information when deciding to buy one video card vs another or one processor vs another. Thnkz.
  • 13 Hide
    Anonymous , September 8, 2009 5:37 PM
    Pei-Chen: This article shobuld make it painfully obvious that AMD can and DOES compete on performance in games. AMD has brought plenty of innovation, even if they don't always finish first, but only for the CPU-based video rendering enthusiast does it make no sense to purchase AMD, the other 99.9% of us couldn't tell the difference in a taste test.

    PS: If you want a 3rd and 4th player, you should go discuss x86 licensing with your beloved Intel...
  • 3 Hide
    Acclaim , September 8, 2009 7:04 PM
    The only question that remains for me is how things will turn once the DirectX 11 cards are announced.

    Then, I can see x8 PCIe2.0 links hurting the P55 chipset and the X58 showing its true potential.

    This will definitely affect SLI/Crossfire setups but I am not sure how it will affect single card solutions.
  • 4 Hide
    Shadow703793 , September 8, 2009 8:04 PM
    anonymous xI like vista, rock solid and stable since I got it years ago. Don't listen to the bashers who never have tried the product.

    Agreed. Vista was pretty good after all the manufactures released the drivers. I still think Win 7 is better than XP and Vista.
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