We tested Quake 4 by running our own custom timedemo with and without its multiprocessor optimizations enabled. These can be switched on in the game console by setting the "r_usesmp" variable to "1".
We're testing at lower resolutions and lower graphical detail settings in order to ease any GPU bottlenecks that might mask the performance differences between the CPUs. At higher graphical detail settings or with a less powerful graphics card, of course, the graphics subsystem might become the primary performance limiter.
Above the following benchmark graph, and throughout most of the tests in this review, we've included Task Manager plots showing CPU utilization. These plots were captured on the Pentium Extreme Edition 965, and they should offer some indication of how much impact multithreading has on the operation of each application. Single-threaded apps may sometimes show up as spread across multiple processors in Task Manager, but the total amount of space below all four lines shouldn't equal more than the total area of one square if the test is truly single-threaded. Anything significantly more than that is probably an indication of some multithreaded component in the execution of the test. Because WorldBench's tests are entirely scripted, however, we weren't able to capture Task Manager plots for them, as you'll notice later.
Nvidia's video drivers are now multithreaded, so we should see some amount of multithreading action happening in any application that uses the GPU for 3D graphics, even if the game is only single-threaded.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
We tested Oblivion by manually playing through a specific point in the game five times for each CPU while recording frame rates using the FRAPS utility. Each gameplay sequence lasted 60 seconds. 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 and trustworthy results. In addition to average frame rates, we've included the low frames 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.
We set Oblivion's graphical quality settings to "Medium," 800x600 resolution, with HDR lighting enabled. Our Oblivion test is a quick run around the Imperial City Arboretum.
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