Gaming is a very real-world test. We do not use benchmarking scripts but actually play the games though a pre-planned level and record the frame rates using FRAPS. This allows up to see exactly how the CPU benefits (or hinders) performance. We have moved to a new format and will now be bringing you a game of each of the three common Direct X Levels. This should give a broader idea of CPU performance across multiple gaming APIs.
Modern Warfare 2 DX9 tests
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 is a fast paced first person shooter style game. It covers the gamut of modern 'low intensity' and covert style combat that is actually going on in today's world. Yes the plot line is farfetched but some of the actual types of missions are not far from the mark. As it is a console port it is limited to DX9 for its engine. However due to the massive 'bar fight' AI it can be a good test for a CPU. Settings are shown below.
FarCry 2 DX10 tests
FarcCry 2 is a large "sandbox" style game that does not have any real levels. It is all mission based but allows for a great deal of free movement in the environment. You take the role of a mercenary sent to kill "The Jackal" a dangerous gun runner. Unfortunately you are overcome by your malaria and end up serving as an errand boy for a local thug. Settings are show below.
Battlefield Bad Company 2 tests
This title from EA also is our first DX11 First Person Shooter. It is a game that is heavily multi-player oriented, but also has a short single player game. In that game you take the part of a World War II commando infiltrating a small island to recover a Japanese defector for the first level, after that things get more modern. Unfortunately, the pace does not pick up. Settings are show below.
OK, gaming is sort of up and down here. We see the two new CPUs do well in one game and not so well in the others. Still we cannot fault them as at the speeds these games are running you would be hard pressed to tell them apart. We can safely say that buying a Sandy Bridge CPU will not hinder your gaming at all.
The Intel Core i7 2600K will retail for $317 in 1,000 unit lots. This should put retail pricing at about $400 or so dollars. The Core i5 2500K will hit at $205 (in the same 1k lots) so retail should be around $300. Both of these prices are excellent for the performance we are seeing. When you consider that the 2600K can come close to the performance of Intel's flagship 980X and even outperform it when the 2600K is overclocked, that is not something to thumb your nose at.
It will be a serious hit to AMD's current best value for your money position in the market, especially considering the fact that both of these CPUs come complete with a GPU. While we have not had the chance to fully test out the GPU performance (that is for another article) what we have seen so far has been nothing short of impressive at the prices we are seeing.
Sandy Bridge is a serious piece of silicon. It represents a new design and a new direction. It competes indirectly with AMD's Fusion CPU but at a much higher level that Fusion can cover at this time. Our testing time with the Core i7 2600K and 2500K was very limited but we have a stack (literally) of both P67 and H67 boards waiting to flesh out the rest of the story. I have a feeling this one will be quite the happy ending for Intel and in many ways the consumer.
We are very impressed with the performance we have seen so far and cannot wait to dive into that ever growing stack of boards. Unfortunately that project will have to wait until after CES. For now we can assure you that Intel's Sandy Bridge is one impressive CPU and one that, given its price, will have a big impact on the market.
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