We tested BioShock by manually playing through a specific point in the game five times while recording frame rates using the FRAPS utility. The sequence? Me trying to fight a Big Daddy, or more properly, me trying not to die for 60 seconds at a pop.
This method has the advantage of simulating real gameplay quite closely, but it comes at the expense of precise repeatability. We believe five sample sessions are sufficient to get reasonably consistent results. In addition to average frame rates, we've included the low frame rates, because those tend to reflect the user experience in performance-critical situations. In order to diminish the effect of outliers, we've reported the median of the five low frame rates we encountered.
For this test, we largely used BioShock's default image quality settings for DirectX 10 graphics cards, but again, we tested at a relatively low resolution of 1024x768 in order to prevent the GPU from becoming the main limiter of performance.
Our Bioshock results are an object lesson in CPU performance in today's games: most of the time, you don't need an especially fast CPU in order to get acceptable performance. Even at this modest display resolution, our graphics card (the very fast GeForce 8800 GTX) or some other constraint looks to be limiting frame rates. That said, the new Phenoms rank in the upper echelon of all of the processors we tested.
We tested performance using Supreme Commander's built-in benchmark, which plays back a test game and reports detailed performance results afterward. We launched the benchmark by running the game with the "/map perftest" option. We tested at 1024x768 resolution with the game's fidelity presets set to "High."
Supreme Commander's built-in benchmark breaks down its results into several major categories: running the game's simulation, rendering the game's graphics, and a composite score that's simply comprised of the other two. The performance test also reports good ol' frame rates, so we've included those, as well.
The new Phenoms handle Supreme Commander easily, with the 9850 finishing just behind the Core 2 Quad Q6600. Once more, the Core 2 Duo E8400 and E8500 place higher, but the margins of difference here are very smalljust a few frames per second, when it comes down to it.
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