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Gaming In 64-Bit: Tom's Tests, Microsoft Weighs In

Setting Up An In-Depth Look At Performance

In order to take a closer look at the effects of running in a 64-bit environment, we set up three different platforms, all Core i7 965 Extreme-based. One ran a 32-bit version of Vista Ultimate with 3 GB of memory. One ran a 64-bit version of Vista Ultimate with 3 GB. And one ran a 64-bit version of Vista Ultimate with 6 GB.

The goal here wasn’t to evaluate the benefit of adding memory—we have a story coming later this month that specifically addresses memory scaling. Rather, we ran the three configurations in order to analyze performance altering one variable at a time. Jumping from 32-bit/3GB to 64-bit/6GB would have made it more difficult to pinpoint the source of performance changes.

Test Hardware
ProcessorIntel Core i7 965 Extreme (Bloomfield) 3.2 GHz, 6.4 GT/s, 8 MB L3 Cache, power-saving settings disabled
MotherboardAsus P6T (X58/ICH10)
Graphics CardZotac GeForce GTX 260 Core 216
MemoryCorsair Dominator 6 GB (3 x 2 GB) DDR3-1600 8-8-8-24 @ 1,066 MHz / 7-7-7-20
Qimonda 3 GB (3 x 1 GB) DDR3-1066 7-7-7-20
Hard DriveWestern Digital VelociRaptor 300 GB 10,000 RPM SATA 3 Gb/s HDD
Power SupplyCooler Master UCP 1100 W
CPU CoolerThermalright Ultra 120 Extreme
System Software And Drivers
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows Vista Ultimate Edition x64 Service Pack 1
Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate Edition x32 Service Pack 1
Graphics DriverNvidia GeForce 182.08
BenchmarkConfiguration
World in ConflictVery High Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, vsync off, 1680x1050/1920x1200, Patch 1009, DirectX 10
Very High Quality Settings, 4x AA / 16x AF, vsync off, 1680x1050/1920x1200, Patch 1009, DirectX 10
Far Cry 2High Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, vsync off, 1680x1050/1920x1200, Steam Version
High Quality Settings, 4x AA / No AF, vsync off, 1680x1050/1920x1200, Steam Version
CrysisHigh Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, vsync off, 1680x1050/1920x1200, Patch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit/32-bit Executable
High Quality Settings, 4x AA / No AF, vsync off, 1680x1050/1920x1200, Patch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit/32-bit Executable
Left 4 DeadHighest Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, vsync off, 1680x1050/1920x1200, DirectX 10, Steam Version
Highest Quality Settings, 4x AA / 8x AF, vsync off, 1680x1050/1920x1200, DirectX 10, Steam Version
Grand Theft Auto IVHighest Quality Settings, No AA / "High" AF, vsync off, 1680x1050/1920x1200, Patch #2
Highest Quality Settings, 4x AA / "High" AF, vsync off, 1680x1050/1920x1200, Patch #2
3DMark VantagePerformance Default, High Quality
  • salsoolo
    i went 64-bit from last year. i hope that game devs go 64-bit. and every programmer too.

    with Windows 7 around the corner, m$ already said that they expect the majority of windows installations will be 64.
    Reply
  • curnel_D
    "Given the very known nature of these virtual address space limitations, you’d think that game developers would be taking a more hurried approach to making the transition."

    This mainly has to do with resources. Most developers use the same engine they've built or bought for a span of many years. Take bioware, for instance, who used the Auroa engine for 9+ years, knowing that it was limited to single threads and low memory.
    To switch to 64-bit, these developers would have to take the time not just to modify their existing engines, but more likely rewrite the entire engine because of the changes involved. Something that some developers just cant afford.
    Reply
  • curnel_D
    Oh, and deffinately drop GTA. None of the GTA or games that use the GTA engine have ever been any good on PC, and have never been consistant in indicating graphics performance due to their poorly developed and optimized code. It's a waste of time.
    Reply
  • amdfangirl
    I say the benefit of having full access to 8GB of DDR2 is enough to make me switch to 64 bit. Not using a Page File and being able to use native 64 bit programs like those found in CS4, is worth it enough. The advantage of being able to execute native 64 bit instructions is absolutely heavenly powerful speed boost(CS3 vs CS4).
    Reply
  • spearhead
    indeed 64-bit is good and you can see that in games and applications which take advantage from it. it might require a bit more ram but then 64-bit can handle more applications running at the same time and execution of those applications seems to be alot faster that is what i can tell from my experience with 64-bit vista
    Reply
  • nathanlh
    One of the reasons that x64 games might run slower on 3GB of system memory than their x86 counterpart is that x64 code should be somewhat larger due to the 64 bit addressing itself. If the x86 code is already feeling the squeeze on 3GB, the x64 code will be even more so - resulting in more memory swapping to disk. Also, one of the benefits of x64 code is the use of more general purpose registers which the x64 games tested here might not have made use of.
    Reply
  • Chris - could you check the same thing on AMD platform? AFAIK there are some performance differencies between AMD and Intel @ 64bit
    Reply
  • amdfangirl
    ^ There were some on Linux with the Athlon 64 and Pentium 4. Gap has really closed tho, I'd say.
    Reply
  • apache_lives
    heh we forget the main concepts here with 64-bit:

    NO ONE uses a system with nothing bar windows a single game installed - they have a few security apps, torrent apps, messenger, keyboard/mouse apps etc - they all sap up resources, so 64 bit gives all apps all the memory they need - for example 8gb is useless to a 32-bit app, but when you got that hungry game ASWELL as a hungry background app etc they both get the full amount of memory!

    Also lessens the "thrashing" effect on HDD's and helps there lifespan etc


    As for why there arnt any benifits for 64 bit games etc - there all still native 32-bit because all those morons still think there 2gb and XP is "sufficent and up to date" - move to 64-bit so we can all benifit!
    Reply
  • amdfangirl
    ^ +1

    We should all be 64 bit.

    Those who play hardcore games should have at least a x64 proc.

    So, devs should make 64bit games simply.

    The world will transition in due time.

    We just are at the frontier.
    Reply