We will also include some gaming benchmarks. Now I understand that some of you expect miracles in gaming when you purchase a new processor. It's just not the case, you are as limited as fast as your GPU (graphics card) can go. It's as simple as that.
All the quad-core love is fantastic, but the reality is it makes very little difference, unless you are on a very high-end SLI or Crossfire platform. Our tests will be conducted on the fastest single GPU on the globe, the GeForce GTX 280. However, even a Core 2 Duo E8400 processor is fast enough for a GeForce GTX 280 in most situations, unless we focus on the lowest resolutions where the GPU is not limited and the CPU can provide more data. Check out our 2, 3 and 4-way GPU article where the power of a faster processor will show the difference more clearly.
As many of you will be aware, F.E.A.R (or First Encounter Assault & Recon in short) involves a rather mysterious looking girl in a red dress, a man with an unappetizing taste for human flesh and some rather flashy action set pieces aka The Matrix. All of this is brought together by one of the best game engines around.
F.E.A.R. makes its cinematic pretensions clear from the start. As soon as the credits roll, and the music starts, you are treated to the full works. The camera pans across scores of troops locked 'n' loaded and ready to hunt you down, all seemingly linked to 'Paxton Fettel', a strange kind of guy with extraordinary psychic powers capable of controlling battalions of soldiers and a habit of feeding off any poor unfortunate innocents - presumably to aid his powers of concentration. It doesnt end there, after a short briefing at F.E.A.R. HQ you are sent off to hunt down Fettel equipped with reflexes that are 'off the chart'. These reflexes are put to excellent use, with slow motion effects like that of Max Payne, or the before mentioned Matrix. But here, it is oooohhhh so much more satisfying thanks to the outstanding environmental effects. Sparks fly everywhere, as chunks of masonry are blasted from the walls and blood splatters from your latest victim. The physics are just great, with boxes sent flying, shelves tipped over, and objects hurtling towards your head. And the explosions, well, the explosions just have to be seen, and what's so great about this is you can witness it in all its glory in slow motion.
Let me confirm to you that based on this, F.E.A.R. will have you shaking on the edge of your seat, if not falling off it. The tension is brought to just the right level with key moments that will make your heart leap. Play the demo and you will see what I mean. The key to this, is the girl. Without revealing anything significant, lets just say that she could take on the whole of Mars for creepiness.
Image Quality setting:
4x Anti Aliasing
16x Anisotropic Filtering
Soft Shadows Disabled
Here's a good example of a very GPU bound situation. When you look at scaling at 10x7 the difference is apparent. And sure the difference between 250 FPS and 224 is pretty okay... but after that, the GPU is the limiting factor.
Fear is very GPU dependant. As you can see, virtually no difference on any of the platforms. But what happens if we take an older title with loads of CPU limitation?
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2
Don't mistake the PC version for being a port of the Xbox 360 game. The PC version has larger and different levels than those featured on the Xbox 360, as well as a different graphics engine and style of gameplay.
The game itself looks great and the intricate physics modelling seen in the singleplayer version is still active in the multiplayer version. There are all sorts of other interactions you'll encounter in multiplayer. For instance, aluminium cans litter the street and stepping on them not only kicks them around, but also creates a loud sound that may betray your presence to the enemy.
And here are the results done with GRAW 2, which in the lower resolutions is very CPU limited. A good example of what the processor / mainboard / memory can achieve here. Image Quality settings:
Edge Smoothing Anti Aliasing
16x Anisotropic Filtering
Dynamic Shadows HIGH
Observe 10x7 closely, here we have a title that is way more CPU dependant while the GPU laughs at the title. Look at the dual core E8400, then the QX 9770 and then the four X58 / i7's. That is a pretty significant difference, yet if we filter out 1024x768, the picture already becomes much less interesting.
Again, check out our dedicated article looking at multi-GPU performance where we can surpass the GPU bottleneck.
ECS X58B-A motherboard review Motherboard test - ECS released a drop-dead gorgeous looking X58 motherboard. it's feature rich has a few hidden Easter eggs and get this .. it's only 250 USD. Now this motherboard is a Black Edition. meaning black PCB, a solid color schema connector wise, extra hidden features like micro switches for power/reset and even CMOS CLEAR, optical audio TOSLINK outputs, copper heatpipe passive cooling, dual GigE Ethernet and heck it's even SLI certified for two way SLI.