Unreal Tournament 3
As you saw on the preceding page, I did manage to find a couple of CPU-limited games to use in testing. I decided to try to concoct another interesting scenario by setting up a 24-player CTF game on UT3's epic Facing Worlds map, in which I was the only human player. The rest? Bots controlled by the CPU. I racked up frags like mad while capturing five 60-second gameplay sessions for each processor.
Oh, and the screen resolution was set to 1280x1024 for testing, with UT3's default quality options and "framerate smoothing" disabled.
There's undoubtedly some variance built into these results, since I was playing a pretty darned random botmatch, but I'm not convinced the X3 720's strong showing is a fluke. Instead, I think its faster L3 cache may be what gives it the advantage over, say, the Phenom II X4 940. Also, hey, our little botmatch idea has produced a real gaming scenario where having more than two cores seems to matter. The Core 2 Quad Q8200 beats out the Core 2 Duo E8400 here, for instance. Along those same lines, the X3 720 seems to have the ideal balance of core count and clock speed for this scenario.
The Phenom II X4 810, meanwhile, churns out frames faster than the Q8200, and it gets a nice little boost from DDR3, as well.
Half Life 2: Episode Two
Our next test is a good, old custom-recorded in-game timedemo, precisely repeatable.
All of these frame rates are ridiculously high, of course. If we consider relative performance, the Phenom II X3 720 just trails the E8400 by a hair, while the X4 810 easily surpasses the Q8200.
Source engine particle simulation
Next up is a test we picked up during a visit to Valve Software, the developers of the Half-Life games. They had been working to incorporate support for multi-core processors into their Source game engine, and they cooked up some benchmarks to demonstrate the benefits of multithreading.
This test runs a particle simulation inside of the Source engine. Most games today use particle systems to create effects like smoke, steam, and fire, but the realism and interactivity of those effects are limited by the available computing horsepower. Valve's particle system distributes the load across multiple CPU cores.
The X3 720's third core makes itself known again here, as the X3 just beats out the Core 2 Duo E8400. The quad-core processors are very evenly matched, the X4 810 in a virtual tie with the Q8200.