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

Game Benchmarks: Real-Time Strategy

World in Conflict has shown itself to be a CPU-dependent title in the past. Will the i7 have what it takes to gain a sizable advantage?

There is an advantage, but the Core i7 920 doesn't really dominate. We have to wonder how much the Radeon 4870 X2 is helping the E8500 stay in the running in this benchmark.

Let's spice it up with 4xAA and 16xAF to see if the 4870 X2 can push the E8500 a little higher in the standings:

As we suspected, adding hearty gobs of AA and AF will help the E8500/4870 X2 system regain some ground over the i7 920/4850 X2. The result is a virtual tie.

Our final game benchmark is almost as brutal to run as the mighty Crysis. Supreme Commander Forged Alliance can also bring a system to its knees, so let's see if it's bottlenecked by the CPU or GPU:

This one was a little surprising as the Supreme Commander engine is known to like multiple CPU cores. However, it's also known to like graphics prowess as well, and in this case, the balance has been tipped in the favor of the Radeon 4870 X2. The i7 920 system pulls out about 90% of the performance in this game.

Of course, we'll add 4xAA to stress it even further:

We're still seeing the i7 920 system pull 90% of the performance of the E8500 system, but at lower frame rates the difference to the end-user will be more pronounced.

We can see from the gaming benchmarks that, at the end of the day, the hardcore gamer is better off investing his or her money in more video card instead of in more CPU. This has been the case for a long time now, and the Core i7 doesn't really change the status quo.

  • Hellcatm
    Personally I'd get a cheaper processor and motherboard and go with a Gforce 280 video card. You can get a $180 processor and a $145 motherboard and the 280 card has PhysX built in which is really nice.
  • enewmen
    I will hope to see how a high-clocked q9550/q9650 E0 will compare with a i7 920. The Motherboard and RAM will be cheaper. So, you can also get more RAM and faster RAM with the q9550 than the i7 920 with the same cash. Or the high-bandwidth/ lower total memory DDR3 tri-channel might actually do better?
    I don't think a i7 920 /w 3 gigs RAM will work as quickly as a q9550 @ 4.0Ghz with a 470mhz fsb and 4+ gigs RAM -even with quad-core supported apps.
    Anyway, I think the outcome will be hard to predict.
  • one-shot
    I think the Q9550/i7 920 comparison would be very informative. I have been considering purchasing a Q9950 in the near future. Let's see it happen.
  • chriscusano
    I agree with I'd agree with trying to run a comparison with the Q9550. Throwing in an nvidia card would also prove interesting.
  • pcgamer12
    Very good article. I just want to say that the Crucial 3GB triple-channel DDR3 1066 kit costs only $73.99; its price surprised me. Go Crucial! I'm definitely looking into a Crucial memory kit for my next upgrade or build, which might or might not be Core i7, depending how the price wars progress between nVidia and ATI (saying AMD still feels wierd to me when referring to video cards). I noticed how the budget had to "settle" for a 4850 X2 when they Core 2 Duo build had money for a 4870 X2. Hopefully, prices will go down faster, and soon.
  • Pei-chen
    Page 2 - E8500 has 6MB L2 cache, not 4MB.
  • Yes, please try the next system with the Q9550! I would love to see how this processor compares again the new kid on the block. Of course this is the processor I have and also want to see what you get out of it. It would be nice if you chose another Gigabyte board as well to get a more apples to apples comparison with this month's build.
  • Huttfuzz
    Yes we want to see Q9550 against Core i7 920. Both overclocked at the same speed. Let's say 3.8 or something like that.
  • JeanLuc
    Good article, well done. At first I was a bit worried for the Core i7 was going to get humiliated against the higher clocked E8500 but you summary shows just how much progress has been made with developing software that can take advantage of multiple cores.

    The Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance benchmark was surprising out of all the games you tested I expected that game to be the one which showed off what quad cores can do for games. Perhaps you could add in GTA IV into your future benchmarks as that games seems to love quad cores?

    The temps were a little worrying but the Intel Stock cooler isn’t designed with overclocking in mind and you can pretty much guarantee a decent 3rd party cooler will slash those temps by a third.

    One last thing it might be an idea to compare your very first mid range build to your current mid range build, it would give the readers an idea as to how much more bang for buck we get now days.
  • kelfen
    well 4850x2 there is only two in newegg 2gb and 1gb which not sure if ATI rly supported as far as drivers compared to its bigger brother