Pentium D vs Core 2 Duo - Tests: Game Benchmarks

Article Index
Pentium D vs Core 2 Duo
Test Setup and Info
Tests: Real-World Apps
Tests: Video Encoding and File Compression
Tests: Game Benchmarks
Tests: Game Benchmarks - Continued...

Game Benchmarking:

We have started to get performance numbers for game much differently that we have in the past.  We used to use time demos and a lot of synthetic benchmarks to get our performance numbers.  While these do have a place in inter-platform testing, they do leave a great big hole in the CPU performance of a game.  Canned benchmarks don't typically take into account CPU load due to AI and Sound that we experience in real-world game play. 

For our performance numbers in the following game tests we used FRAPS to gather frame rate data, then we charted the CSV files in OpenOffice 2.0.3 to get our chart information.  We ran each of the benchmarks a minimum of three times, averaged the results and charted the averaged numbers.  Some games lend themselves to easy repetition of a map and others are more difficult due to the AI involved.  In a real world scenario, Battlefield 2 was impossible to keep consistent as the AI chose different numbers of bots to travel to the same flag every time we loaded the map.  Below are the games that we felt were repetitive and interesting enough to be included in our head-to-head.

All of the games were ran at 800x600 with medium to low detail so that the graphics system would not be the bottleneck.

Age Of Empires 3:

Age Of Empires is a very CPU intensive game as it requires a lot of cycles to run the AI of the enemy.  I really expected the Core 2 Duo to shine in this benchmark after seeing the way it smoked the Pentium D in previous benchmarks.  I was a little surprised at the results.

Age Of Empires 3
Age Of Empires 3

Call Of Duty 2:

Call of Duty 2 is a very impressive game to play.  It is very immersive as the story plays out well.  The audio and video of this game are very demanding and it can bring most mid-range systems to their knees when playing at larger resolutions.  We kept everything in check at 800x600 so we could see the impact that the CPU has on this game.

Call Of Duty 2
Call Of Duty 2

Half-Life 2: Episode 1:

I've enjoyed the Half-Life series from the beginning and I remember playing the original on a Voodoo 3.  Half-Life 2 has a bit higher requirements, and Half-Life 2: Episode 1 is even more demanding on a system.  We turned down the resolution to 800x600 and left everything else medium to see how the CPU affected this game.  Up until now, CPU has had very little impact overall on gaming performance.

Half-Life 2: Episode 1
Half-Life 2: Episode 1

These first game tests are pretty interesting.  You may have noticed that I included the "mean" scores in the graphs above.  The Core 2 Duo takes the lead in all games but in Age Of Empires 3 and Call of Duty 2, the difference is very minimal.  These games exhibit a 1-2FPS increase on the Conroe CPU, and that even falls within margin of error.  However, Half-Life 2: Episode 1 really like the Core 2 Duo and it comes to life with an impressive jump in performance.  We see our average frame rate in HL2:EP1 increase from 62FPS on the 805D, to an amazing 143FPS on the Core 2 Duo.  All we did was change the CPU for an unbelievable 130% performance increase.  Not bad at all.

We will continue our game testing on the next page.