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Game Benchmarks: First-Person Shooters

System Builder Marathon: $1,250 Mid-Range PC

I like to start out with Crysis because it's really going to tell us how these systems will perform when put under the maximum graphical stress. First, let's check out the numbers when the systems run at the highest in-game details––the brutal Very High setting––but with no anti-aliasing (AA) applied:

Even the mighty power of the Core i7 920 is humbled by the Radeon HD 4870 X2 when it comes to Crysis The 4850 X2 is no slouch, but the vastly superior memory bandwidth of the 4870 X2 reigns supreme here. Let us not also forget that our 4850 X2 is underclocked by 50 MHz, but in all honesty that probably only accounts for one or two frames per second (FPS) in this game.

Let's see if cranking up the AA changes anything:

Not really. The i7/4850 X2 still performs at about 80% of the level that the E8500/4870 X2 is managing to achieve.

Crysis is extremely graphics limited at the Very High setting, but what about other titles? Let's try Unreal Tournament 3:

The tables have turned. See how the Core i7 completely dominates this CPU-limited title?

But wait... upon closer inspection, even the E8500 is outputting 70 FPS at the highest resolution. These numbers are less relevant because the game is silky smooth on both platforms, even when they're not overclocked.

Maybe adding 4xAA and 8x anisotropic filtering (AF) will add sauce to the goose:

Well, here is an undeniable advantage of the Core i7: the new CPU cranks out close to 100 FPS at the highest resolution and settings, even at stock clocks. The E8500 is barely playable at 1920x1200 until it's overclocked. However, once overclocked, it proves quite potent.

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