Skip to main content

Game-Off: Seven Sub-$150 Processors Compared

Testing Methodology

If you've been paying attention to our CPU-gaming articles recently, you may be curious how the Core i3-530 was able to achieve game performance parity with the Core i7-870 (Is Intel's Core i3-530 Fast Enough For Performance Gaming?). Yet, we demonstrated that the Athlon II X3 440 can show some fairly large performance differences compared to a Core i7-920 (Gamers: Do You Need More Than An Athlon II X3?). What's the explanation here? Is the Core i3-530 that much better at gaming than the Athlon II X3 440?

The fact of the matter is that these two articles were benchmarked very differently. In the Core i3-530 gaming comparison, all of the CPUs were paired with a Radeon HD 5850 for benchmarking, where the Athlon II X3 article upped the ante with Radeon HD 5870 and a Radeon HD 5850 CrossFire setup. In addition, the Core i3-530 article focused on average frame rates, while the Athlon II X3 article spoke to the importance of minimum frame rates. Finally, the Core i3-530 article provided raw results for the highest settings, even if the resulting frame rates were sometimes too low to be comfortably playable, while the Athlon II X3 article settings were all about keeping average frames rates high.

This time around, we'll continue to keep that focus on high minimum and high average frame rates that will deliver a really smooth gaming experience. We're looking to maintain average frame rates as close to 60 as possible, so we'll be tweaking in-game detail levels as needed to reproduce some usable numbers. We also hope to see ample minimum frame rates, ideally staying above 30 frames per second (FPS).

As far as the graphics subsystem is concerned, we're going to stay away from an expensive CrossFire/SLI solution. However, we want to employ some real graphics horsepower so that we're not limiting game performance by the graphics card. This is a CPU test after all. In order to minimize bottlenecks, we'll use one of the fastest cards available, Nvidia's GeForce GTX 480.

  • wintermint
    AMD is really improving. I'm waiting for them to manufacture 32nm CPUs like Intel :)
    Reply
  • Tamz_msc
    Interesting article-it clearly shows the advantage of having four physical cores of the Athlon II and the Phenom II X4s over the hyper-threaded Core i3s in real-world situations.No doubt that this article will benefit people who want the perfect processor for their money at this price range
    Reply
  • falchard
    I am glad an RTS was used in this benchmark. More CPU heavy games should be included in the benchmark for Processor benchmarking.

    With that said, there was a mention that the 6MB L3 cache may have helped the Phenom II X4 945, I wonder what would happen with a Phenom II X2 or X3 by comparison if this actually makes a significant impact. It could prove there is a significant advantage to cheaper AMD CPUs then the Athlon IIs in this benchmark.
    Reply
  • Found a typo on the chart, I don't see why you would compare the Intel i3-530 against itself. :P
    Reply
  • qvasi_modo
    AMD - bang for the buck, Intel - bling for the buck.
    Reply
  • Tamz_msc
    qvasi_modoAMD - bang for the buck, Intel - bling for the buck.Uptil a certain price range.
    Reply
  • war2k9
    It is time for me to dust of my old am2+ computer and put a new amd proc in it and give it a new life.
    Reply
  • cleeve
    DemonslayFound a typo on the chart, I don't see why you would compare the Intel i3-530 against itself.
    Thx, fixed!
    Reply
  • vikasnagpal_v2
    i like the performance of i3-530......................
    Reply
  • luke904
    Tamz_mscInteresting article-it clearly shows the advantage of having four physical cores of the Athlon II and the Phenom II X4s over the hyper-threaded Core i3s in real-world situations.No doubt that this article will benefit people who want the perfect processor for their money at this price range

    sorry but i must disagree...

    the core i3 530 was 8% faster than the athlon X4 and costs $5 less
    its a great processor it seems, a nice change from intel. but i admit, my heart sunk after seeing amd's athlon X4 get beat. its like sports, i root for AMD

    please dont quote the multitasking benchmark as no sane person compresses stuff while gaming...
    yes the athlon would probably be better overall for most people, but not for gaming



    Reply