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Can Your Old Athlon 64 Still Game?

Game Benchmarks: Test Drive Unlimited

In March 2007, Atari released the PC version of Test Drive Unlimited, allowing PC gamers to race their dream cars throughout the beautiful Hawaiian Island of Oahu. We use Fraps for a two lap race on the Need for Freedom track. Again, all tests were run three times with consistent results, so the median performance numbers were used. Test Drive Unlimited has very few graphics settings making it hard to get enjoyable performance on a minimum spec system. Options are limited to low/medium/high and a checkbox for HDR lighting. We ran the highest settings, including HDR.

Unlike Need for Speed Carbon, Test Drive Unlimited is multi-threaded and we see the dual-core X2 4200+ easily able to pull ahead of the higher clocked A64 4000+ at lower resolutions. As we turn up the resolution, the limiting factor shifts more to the GPU, but we still see that the dual-core CPUs maintain a higher minimum FPS. The single-core A64 4000+ dropped below 30 FPS at two resolutions, while both dual-core processors managed to maintain at least 33 FPS at all resolutions. The X2 5600+ was able to provide the best overall performance and even managed a slight lead in minimum FPS at 1600x1200.

Enabling 4xAA shows how CPU limited we were with the single-core CPU. At 1024x768, the average FPS remained the same while in contrast we see a large hit for the X2 5600+ enabling FSAA, showing that the GPU is becoming a limit even at this low resolution. With the added demand of 4xAA, the 8800 GS is now far from able to handle 1600x1200. The game was unplayable at these settings, which affected our racing lines and lap times and explains the 2 FPS lead for the X2 4200+.

  • Schip
    FIRST POST!!! Nice Article though. I knew my brother would soon be doomed with his P4 2.8c ;)
    Reply
  • "AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200 + dual-core, which has a 2.2 GHz Manchester architecture with 512 MB L2 cache per core."
    oau! that's a lot of cache :D
    Reply
  • neiroatopelcc
    I haven't read the actual article yet, but I bet the simple answer is no!
    I've got a backup gaming rig at home that barely cuts it. An x2 1.9ghz (oc'ed to 2.4) with an 8800gtx and 3gb memory. That rig struggles at 1280x1024 in some situations, and it can only be attributed to the cpu really.
    Reply
  • bf2gameplaya
    2.8GHz Opteron 185 (up from 2.6GHz) with 2x1MB L2 cache is the ultimate s939 CPU....blows these weak benchmarks away.

    Who would have thought DDR would have such durability? There's something to be said for CAS2!
    Reply
  • cangelini
    Surprisingly, you can actually do fairly well. Of course, it depends on the app...
    Reply
  • neiroatopelcc
    But your opteron cpu still limits the modern graphics cards.
    Two years back I bought my 8800gtx, and realized it wouldn't come to its full potential in my opteron 170 (@ 2.7). A friend with another gtx paired with an e6400 chip (@ 3ghz) scored a full 30% higher in 3dmark than I, and it showed in games. Even in wow where you'd expect a casio calculator would deliver enough graphics power.

    In short - ye ddr still work if you've got enthusiast parts, but that can't negate the effect a faster cpu would give. At least at decent resolutions (22" wide)
    Reply
  • dirtmountain
    This is a great article! It will give me something to show when i'm talking to people about a new system or just a GPU/PSU upgrade. Great job by Henningsen.
    Reply
  • NoIncentive
    I'm still using a P4 3.0 @ 3.4 with 1 GB DDR 400 and an nVidia 6800GT...

    I'm building a new computer next week.
    Reply
  • randomizer
    I can echo the findings in Crysis. It didn't matter what settings I ran with a 3700 Sandy and an X1950 pro, the framerate was almost the same (albeit low 20s because the card is slower). Added an E6600 to the mix and my framerate tripled at lower settings.

    It would have been interesting to see how a 3000+ Clawhammer (C0 stepping) would do in Crysis. Single-channel memory, poor overclocking capabilities... FAIL!
    Reply
  • ravenware
    bf2gameplaya2.8GHz Opteron 185 (up from 2.6GHz) with 2x1MB L2 cache is the ultimate s939 CPU....blows these weak benchmarks away.Who would have thought DDR would have such durability? There's something to be said for CAS2!
    Thia ia true about the DDR. I recall an article on toms right after the release of the AM2 socket which tested identical dual core processors against their 939 counterparts; the tests showed little to no performance gains.

    Great article, their has been some discussion about this in the forums as well.

    I currently own a 939 4200+ x2 that's paired with a 7800GT; and this article shows what I thought to be accurate about the AMD64 chips. Their not as fast as some of the C2D's but they still kick ass.

    Good job pointing out the single core factor in newer games too. As soon as the crysis demo was released I upgraded my San Diego core to a dual core and noticed the difference in crysis immediately.

    This article gives me further confidence in my decision to hold on upgrading my system. I want to hold out for Windows7 D3D11 and more money to build an ape sh** machine :D

    Nice article!!
    Reply