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It's arguable that for many of you, gaming performance will be of paramount interest when it comes to buying new parts for your PC. However, the simple fact of the matter is, if you have a powerful gaming PC, CPU performance is not going to be your bottleneck. So as long as you have a reasonably nippy dual core or quad core CPU, you'll be fine. It's for this reason we didn't go to town with our game testing and have looked at just two games, Crysis and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars.
Both games use scripting to run through a custom time demo, with frame rates recorded along the way. Each setting is run three times and an average taken to ensure a consistent and fair result. We used a 'low' graphical setting to demonstrate the affect a fast CPU can have when graphics card performance isn't a bottleneck and then we used a 'high' setting to show the limited affect a fast CPU has when your graphics card is the bottleneck.
Unfortunately, our QX9770 test bed refused to run Crysis at 1,920 x 1,200 with 4xAA but even so, I think we can safely guess how things may have panned out. The QX9770 would probably have just crept ahead in this otherwise largely graphics card limited situation.
While it's clear the new Phenom doesn't leap ahead of the competition it has done the most important thing and at least mostly caught up. Sure it still trails the QX9770 but then that CPU costs four times as much so I think we can forgive it.
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
Again, AMD fails to take top spot in this benchmark but it has made some significant gains, particularly in the higher resolution test. So far, so pretty good.