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Battlefield: Bad Company 2

So begins our suite of gaming tests, which present us with a bit of a dilemma when it comes to a product like the Core i7-3960X. As you can see, the fastest solutions are pretty well bunched up together at the top of the chart. That's true probably for several reasons. First, most games don't take advantage of more than three or four threads, max, so any triple- or quad-core processor that can execute those threads quickly will excel here. Second, most of today's games aren't particularly CPU-intensive, since they're cross-developed for game consoles like the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, whose microprocessors have more in common with the engine control computer in a Ford Contour than they do with a Sandy Bridge Extreme. Third, to the extent that it matters when the minimum frame rates are higher than most display refresh rates, it's possible our test is GPU-limited, even at this relatively low resolution. That will happen on a modern PC, whether it's with a mid-range graphics card like this one at a middling resolution or with a high-end graphics card on a four-megapixel display.

With that said, we had intended to include some additional testing, using newer games and a high-end graphics card and going inside the second with the top CPUs, but the aforementioned issues we had with the Asus mobo's Turbo policy forced us to scuttle those plans. We'll get back to it eventually, but don't get your hopes too high. Our recent look at Battlefield 3 performance with a lowly Core i5-750 produced prevailing frame times near the 16-millisecond mark with the faster GPUs. That's a solid 60Hz or 60 FPS, which doesn't leave loads of room for tangible improvements with a quicker CPU.