|AMD Athlon-II X4-640 CPU ADX640WFGMBOX|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Processors|
|Written by Hank Tolman|
|Friday, 02 July 2010|
Page 10 of 13
Video Game Benchmarks
PC-based video games can depend heavily on the CPU if the attached GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is less powerful, or the graphics settings are configured so low that they create no strain on the video card and must rely purely on system processing speed; a phenomenon known as CPU-dependence. The opposite is true when the video game has a powerful video card installed, and can handle all graphical demands without receiving assistance from the CPU. Benchmark Reviews has proven consistently that, with a high end GPU in use, frame rates are not often noticeably impacted by changes in processor or RAM. Since it is unlikely that someone spending enough money to buy a top-of-the-line graphics card would settle for the Athlon-II X4-640 as their gaming processor, we have decided to use Radeon HD 4200 with 128MB of DDR3 SidePort Memory, the ATI on-board video solutions provided with the ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO motherboard for these gaming tests.
It is important to realize, however, that the Athlon-II X2, X3 and X4 processors can all be used to play modern games, and even at very high settings. The only way to do this, however, is through the purchase of a high end graphics card. While the most likely purchasers of the Athlon-II X3-445 will not be high end gamers, it is feasible that some people might want to play the latest games, but have a budget that limits them to either a high end processor, or a high end graphics card. For this reason, we have included here the results of the gaming tests with the MSI NVIDIA GTX 285 GPU. This card runs about $370. There are other cards, i.e. some of the Radeon HD 5xxx cards, that will provide enough power to play these games even with an entry level processor. In these cases, the GPU is doing most of the work for the game, and the processor is much less involved.
Built upon an advanced version of Capcom's proprietary MT Framework game engine to deliver DirectX 10 graphic detail, Resident Evil 5 offers gamers non-stop action similar to Devil May Cry 4, Lost Planet, and Dead Rising. The MT Framework is an exclusive seventh generation game engine built to be used with games developed for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and PC ports. MT stands for "Multi-Thread", "Meta Tools" and "Multi-Target". Games using the MT Framework are originally developed on the PC and then ported to the other two console platforms.
On the PC version of Resident Evil 5, both DirectX 9 and DirectX 10 modes are available for Microsoft Windows XP and Vista Operating Systems. Microsoft Windows 7 will play Resident Evil with backwards compatible Direct3D APIs. Resident Evil 5 is branded with the NVIDIA The Way It's Meant to be Played (TWIMTBP) logo, and receives NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision functionality enhancements. NVIDIA and Capcom offer the Resident Evil 5 benchmark demo for free download from their website, and Benchmark Reviews encourages visitors to compare their own results to ours.
Regardless of processing power, with the on-board graphics, none of these CPUs can give us playable frame rates in Resident Evil 5. The tests were completed with the lowest settings possible at the most likely low-end gaming resolution of 1280x1024. In order to play the game, you will need to invest in a discrete GPU. The Radeon HD4200 just doesn't have what it takes to play this game. The game seems to favor clock speed over cores when dealing with the X2 and X3 processors, but the X4-640, with its fourth core, seems to pull a few more frames out of it.
The results from the Devil May Cry 4 tests are consistent with the Resident Evil 5 benchmark scores. None of the processors can muster enough frame rates to play the game without trouble. We are not surprised by the results of the gaming tests. While the frame rates to fluctuate generally based on what seems to be the clock speed of the CPU being used, none of the processors can make up for the lack of power in the Radeon HD4200. Even if you were to use the fastest Phenom-II chips available, it is doubtful that frame rates would reach decent playable levels. Playable levels are generally agreed to be over 30 FPS. So in Scene 4, some powerful CPUs might make it. Gameplay overall, however, would be less than viable with an onboard solution. Again, if you were using the fastest Phenom-II CPUs, you wouldn't likely be using the on-board graphics. These graphics are meant for media playback in an HTPC or for routine everyday uses, not for gaming.
If you have kept up with Benchmark Reviews articles in the past, it will come as no surprise to you that we have continually proven that, when using a high end graphics card, CPU speed and RAM speed and timings have very little to do with a noticeable increase in Frames Per Second, even at the highest settings. In order to show that the Athlon-II X4-640 actually IS a viable processor for use in gaming, when paired with a high end video card, we have included benchmark testing of the same two games using the NVIDIA GTX 285 video card. This card will set you back close to $370, so it is unlikely that it will often be paired with an Athlon-II processor. However, if your budget allows for only one high end item, and you want to play the latest videos games, these tests clearly show that you can do so with a good video card.
Like I said before, playable frame rates are at least above 30 FPS. I have used the V-Sync here to prove a point. At 60 FPS, you are seeing just about as much of the game as you can. Undoubtedly, if I were to take off the V-Sync, the i7-920 would provide a higher margin of success than the Athlon-II processors, with their lack of L3 cache and hyperthreading. Even so, the Athlon-II X4-640 can easily get up over 100 FPS when paired with a high-end video card. Again, the point is that the games are much less dependent on the CPU than some may think.
We can see that when using the much better GPU, the games are easily playable with the Athlon-II X4-640 and even the X2 processors. Due to the 60Hz refresh rate at 1920X1080 on the Acer X233H used for testing, and the V-Sync feature, the results are capped at 60 FPS. I did bump the refresh rate up to 75Hz at a much lower display setting, and the results were similarly maxed at right near 75 FPS. The real purpose of these tests is just to show how little difference the processor really makes when it comes to playing high end games. The GPU is the real factor here.