We measured Warhead performance using the FRAPS frame-rate recording tool and playing over the same 60-second section of the game five times on each processor. 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.
We tested at at relatively modest graphics settings, 1024x768 resolution with the game's "Mainstream" quality settings, because we didn't want our graphics card to be the performance-limiting factor. This is, after all, a CPU test.
When I first set out to put together our CPU test suite, I honestly wondered whether we could find any games that are really CPU-limited these days. Many of them are console ports and simply don't require much CPU power to run well. This game is an exception, obviously. Like most games, however, Warhead doesn't look to be heavily multithreaded, since our two dual-core processors perform relatively well here compared to their lower-speed quad-core siblings.
The top two spots are occupied by the Core i7-965 Extreme, with the non-Hyper-Threaded config proving to be a little fasterno surprise given this game's lack of robust multithreading. Turning off HT and doing away with its partitioning of some on-chip resources does seem to offer a bit of a performance boost in the right situation.
Far Cry 2: Far Cry-ier
After playing around with Far Cry 2, I decided to test it a little bit differently by recording frame rates during the jeep ride sequence at the very beginning of the game. I found that frame rates during this sequence were generally similar to those when running around elsewhere in the game, and after all, playing Far Cry 2 involves quite a bit of driving around. Since this sequence was repeatable, I just captured results from three 90-second sessions.
Again, I didn't want the graphics card to be our primary performance constraint, so although I tested at fairly high visual quality levels, I used a relatively low 1024x768 display resolution and DirectX 9.
The 965 Extreme again takes the top spots, but the Core i7-920 finishes in mid-pack, behind the Core 2 Quad 9300.