Intel Skulltrail Platform test

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Page 11 - Game testing F.e.a.r., GRAW & COD 4



As many of you will be aware, F.E.A.R (or First Encounter Assault & Recon for 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 al la' The Matrix. All of this is brought together by one of the best game engines around.

There has been a great amount of talk surrounding this game as of late and we here at Guru3D aim to please.

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 power 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 reflex's that are 'off the chart'. These reflexes are put to excellent use, with a slow motion effects like that of Max Payne, or the afore 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 box's 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.

Time for some modern game testing. F.E.A.R has a built in test which we used to measure performance. F.E.A.R is an extremely hard title for the graphics cards when you set it to maximum image quality.

Now I wanted to show you some results in a more real-life situation as well. So above we enabled 4xAA and 16xAF, the results shown are based on maximum in-game quality settings however softshadows are disabled.

Skulltrail was made for the ultimate gamers; yet this exactly where performance is hit hard as we'll consistently see two big problems for Skulltrail. GPU limitations and the games being written for one or 2 CPU cores at best.

As you can see, you can drop thousands of dollars or EUROs into a PC .. but if a game / application has not been written to support multi-core processing .. it won't make jack difference. See, the game is single threaded and uses one core only. Here we see a single GeForce 8800 GTX at work. We'll do SLI as well in a minute. We are now looking at baseline performance. So whether you have 2-4 or 8 cores at your disposal. It doesn't mean a thing if the game does not support it.

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter (GRAW)

In Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 3, players will embody Captain Scott Mitchell as he commands the Ghosts and Special Forces allies equipped with the IWS in the quest to save the president of the United States, recover stolen nuclear codes and eliminate a vicious band of renegade soldiers hell-bent on unleashing catastrophe. The game unfolds entirely in Mexico City, where numerous, thoroughly researched and detailed environments will deliver complete immersion into the future of urban warfare.

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 modeling seen in the single-player version is still active in the multiplayer version. In fact, it's so detailed that if you have the upcoming Aegia physics card, you'll see sparks bouncing off objects in the environment. Even if you don't have a physics card, though, there are all sorts of other interactions you'll encounter in multiplayer. For instance, aluminum cans litter the street, and stepping on them not only kicks them around, but also creates a loud sound, which may betray your presence to the enemy.

You need to have a graphics monster as a graphics card because this baby can be hard on current graphics cards, even high-end ones. So we are playing the level Coup d' Etat (Checkpoint 2) here (fantastic level). Configuration wise we enable (as always) all eye-candy. We have 16xAF enabled, and furthermore all settings set to high.

All processors seem to give roughly the same performance except where there's no GPU limitation at 10x7. Again you can see that the game is single threaded and uses one core only.

Call of Duty 4

Activision recently released Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the next installment in the popular war game series. Moving away from the World War II setting, Modern Warfare instead centers around a conflict involving Russia and the Middle East. And hey, you even get to die ... and then continue the game in the past.

We'll suit up today in our best cloaking gear for COD4, optimized for multiple cores; even better than Crysis (who does two cores max). For this benchmark we disguise ourselves in the Ghillie suit, load up ACT II - All Ghillied up. This particular level I liked the most. Not just for gameplay, but also the intense and dense graphics utilized are breathtaking. Massive high-quality texturing, shaders and a serious amount of shadows, fog and debris are applied in this level to mask and hide as best as you can.

Image Quality setting:

  • 4x Anti Aliasing
  • 16x anisotropic filtering
  • All settings maxed out

This game is one of the first games that has been moderately optimized for dual-core gaming. Using two or four cores, would not make any difference. Throttle it up a notch to eight cores ... and you'll notice that the money is still wasted. Let me show you what happens, this is a screenshot real-time; mid-gaming:

Intel Skulltrail tested

See, one core is utilized quite a bit. The rest shares a couple of loose threads. If we'd show a dual or quad core CPU here, the load on the second or in case of the quad core CPU the rest of the 3 logical cores would be a tad higher. Well, at least it's good to know we are not CPU limited in this game. Bit it's a start :)

Let's have a peek at overclocking and SLI performance.

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