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

Average FPS Benchmarks: Single Radeon HD 5850

We begin with the benchmarks showcasing average FPS performance for the Athlon II X3 440 and Core i7-920 systems when a single Radeon HD 5850 is used. Let's look at the results across all four tested resolutions:

The Core i7-920 sports a clear advantage up to 1920x1080. But at 2560x1600 that advantage disappears as the bottleneck is firmly in the hands of the graphics card. At 2560x1600, however, the average FPS is too low to be useful on either system.

But what is the real-world gain here? Remember, results over 60 FPS aren't all that useful with a typical 60 Hz monitor. In this light, the results are much tighter. The advantages that the Core i7-920 brings to the table are largely useless at 1280x1024, where even the Athlon is achieving close to 60 FPS. At 1680x1050, the only realistic advantage might be seen in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat and World in Conflict.

At 1920x1080, the bottleneck moves a little closer to the graphics card subsystem, and we're seeing relatively close results between both platforms. The only sizable lead is taken by the Core i7-920 in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat. There is an eight FPS advantage in World in Conflict, and the Crysis results are extremely close, reaffirming our suspicions that graphics are what currently hold us back.

  • welshmousepk
    good read, though unsurprising. certainly justifies these lower end processors in gaming rigs.

    the whole thing seems to slightly contradict the 'balanced PC' articles though. why put such a cheap CPU in a system with such a powerful GPU? is the budget really going to be THAT tight?
  • sohei
    good point in this article....if you have money have 1 solution for every application you run on your pc....(high end cpu) folks with money dont have to simple ...but if you have less money to spend AMD cpu is your (my) choice
  • Verkil
    Still no GTA4? I'm still having thoughts getting an Athlon II X3 because I'll be playing GTA4 and all your Athlon II X3 gaming benchmark does not include GTA4.
  • slinkoguy
    Looks like you guys got a Deneb core. Unlock that thing and let us see those results! :D
  • haplo602
    hmm ... I see an interesting pattern here. the latest Intel architecture is 3x as expensive yet an AMD cpu on a generation older architecture can still keep up reasonable.

    except very high end gaming, I realy do not see a reason to go after the i7.

    what I am missing from the article is the X3 vs Intel cpus in the same price range. maybe a followup would do some good :-)
  • tacoslave
    should have overclocked the 440 because thats what most will be doing when they use this processor for gaming
  • Jarmo
    tacoslaveshould have overclocked the 440 because thats what most will be doing when they use this processor for gaming
    I'd guess at least 90% of users never overclock anything.
    To be fair though, probably 90% of Tom's readers do.
  • Stardude82
    Do it again with a 5750 or a GTS 250..or lower with a 5650 and a GT 240. You know something modern, but not in excess of the cost of the motherboard and CPU. This is my same problem with the G6950/720 article.. I don't think I've ever seen a good article showing differences with difference CPU's in the middle end. With more of a GPU is bottle neck, the CPU should matter even less.
  • retrac1324
    I like how Opera web browser was mistyped: Oprah
  • HalfHuman
    nice comparison. seems that the triple core is quite strong enough for gaming. i believe that xfire is crazy technology though and only an almost negligible number of gamers use it. i also do not see the point of using such a strong(expensive) video card with a budget cpu. a money conscious gamer would get a 57xx or something in that zone.

    my thought is that for single card users (not necessarily 58xx type not because it's not good but is for sure not budget friendly) and normal monitors (1680x1050) a triple or even dual core amd is enough.