AMD vs Intel - The Gaming Sweetspot

Introduction

Introduction
 
 
I would say that most long time tech readers will remember that fateful summer day in 2006 when Intel finally brought an end to the period of hateful Intel Pentium 4 and Pentium D processors, unleashing their secret weapon that turned the tables of CPU warfare. Prior to this, AMD had a three year long performance and value for money crown while Intel continued to release multiple iterations of their Netburst based processors, hoping that they could fend off the smaller underdog with clock speed alone. No doubt that this worked just fine in terms of mass orders to OEMs, many DIY builders were left feeling unsatisfied to say the least. I am an optimist however and strongly believe that most bad patches don't last forever and in the context of a huge and profitable chip giant such as the likes of Intel, I'm surely right and on that note, it truly seemed as though AMD were practically caught napping amidst their acquisition of ATi.
 
Most should also remember that the 24 months that followed were just as dire as AMD/ATi began to pull together new products such as the AMD Phenom X3/X4 range and the ATi Radeon HD 2900 series that were simply too little and too late. Combined with falling confidence, the plummet of share prices and the impending economic downturn that was soon to follow, things just weren't looking great at all. However, at nearly 18 months since the release of the incredibly successful Radeon HD 4800 series and almost a year since the launch of the affordable Phenom II Processor lineup, the doomsday picture that I had just painted out seems as though it was nothing more than a distant memory. It is all but over however as there is no getting around the fact that Intel still possess the performance crown and with their quality assurance based “Tick-Tock” product development strategy, there isn't a lot that's stopping them from maintaining their position. For this reason, it's imperative that AMD do not rely on solely ramping up clock speeds and the sale of units at next to non existant profit margins, but aggressively develop new processor architectures in order to keep up. How much does this really affect the gamer though? Let's discuss.
 
The majority of todays games are inherently graphics card dependant. While I'm not trying to suggest that pairing a Celeron 430 1.80GHz processor with a top end graphics card will yield similar results to the same card paired with a Core i7 975 3.46GHz processor, but within reason most of the work that concerns the fluidity of the latest and greatest games will be mostly dependant on the graphics card. When you factor in the decreasing price of TFT Monitors and the increases in native resolution, graphical dependancies towards the end user has been further exacerbated. So what we're wondering is, how fast a processor must be implemented in a gaming rig in order to fuel a top of the line Radeon HD 5870 1GB GDDR5 graphics card? Would anyone notice if the same graphics card was paired with AMD's best despite it's shortcomings against the Intel Core i7? It's not an unknown fact that the Core i7 is faster in work per clock cycle and also benefits from Hyperthreading Technology whenever an application decides to harness it. In certain scenarios, it is arguably possible for a Core i7 920 to outpace an AMD Phenom II X4 even with as much as a 667MHz clockspeed deficit. Given the traits of most games these days, would the difference between the two be so prominent?
 
     
 
So what does it take to put together a fine gaming machine for today and the future without breaking the bank? Can the Human Resistance fend off the evils of Skynet and still have enough change left to stop by the local watering hole? Who dares, wins is all we have to say so please join us as we pitch AMD's finest against the mighty Core i7 platform in a classic head to head style gaming shoot out.
 
 
 
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Most Recent Comments

25-10-2009, 23:33:24

tinytomlogan
We get the put the two heavey weighs in the ring head to head, will AMD throw in the towel? Or maybe Intel is all mouth.... We fire up the test rigs to find out who really is the best. By Mul

Continue Reading

26-10-2009, 03:37:55

AaronCooper
Hehe tom you put AMD Vs. nVidia not intel :P

26-10-2009, 06:48:36

Kylevdm
Great article, although I would switch the Call of Duty test results the other way round so it matches with all the others At the moment it is i7 on top where all the others have it on the bottom of the graph

26-10-2009, 08:17:54

Rastalovich
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='AaronCooper'
Hehe tom you put AMD Vs. nVidia not intel :P
Freudient slip.

It's evident to me that if ur just gaming, u can afford to make a choice of either camp. Even if ur enthusiastic in ur approach. Cash will often dictate ur choice, although primarily I try to stress to people (in this day'n'age) ur major purchase should always be the gfxcard for gaming. It makes little sense to dump a large portion of ur budget into cpu/mobo/mem and settle for a 4770, when u could get a 5870 and the balance can effectively make up the numbers.

Some1 with an i7 and a 4770 will do less well as a P35/E8400 and a 5870, for example.

Think the biggest decision maker is what else u do with the pc other than gaming.

Great read btw.

26-10-2009, 16:51:36

iceie
I think this test proves that the intel chips is really aggressive for the performance and the disadvantages that is set to test

27-10-2009, 07:56:17

Nelly
Sorry to criticise the review but it lacks depth in terms of results as their isn't enough infomation to give conclusive evidence i.e. not enough Benchmarks as some games fair better on one CPU or the other - check other reviews.

Would of been a more interesting read if you did a clock for clock analysis just to see if the INTEL i7 920 @ 3.4GHz gave a significant boost or not over the stock 2.66GHz.

Then do another test with both CPU's at 3.8GHz to see if either CPU can take advantage of the 5870 graphics card.

Also would of been more interesting if you had added results using Lynnfield into the equation.

On a positive note for Fred Bloggs buying a PC from a retail chain PC outlet the results will be good for the non-overclocker who isn't bothered about these things.

27-10-2009, 10:14:26

danimoth17
I would have preferred a comparison using the core i7-860 or 870.

that way you would have been using the same dual channel memory etc.

just to rule out other influences as much as possible.

27-10-2009, 13:31:29

Mul.
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Nelly'
Sorry to criticise the review but it lacks depth in terms of results as their isn't enough infomation to give conclusive evidence i.e. not enough Benchmarks as some games fair better on one CPU or the other - check other reviews.

Would of been a more interesting read if you did a clock for clock analysis just to see if the INTEL i7 920 @ 3.4GHz gave a significant boost or not over the stock 2.66GHz.

Then do another test with both CPU's at 3.8GHz to see if either CPU can take advantage of the 5870 graphics card.

Also would of been more interesting if you had added results using Lynnfield into the equation.

On a positive note for Fred Bloggs buying a PC from a retail chain PC outlet the results will be good for the non-overclocker who isn't bothered about these things.
Cheers for the feedback

Truth be told, with the equipment that I had to hand, between the previously reviewed Titan Goliath PC and it's HD 5870, I thought it might be possible to pull together another article with some results. If I had more gaming benchmarks to hand as well as a Core i5, then certainly they would have been included but even without doing so, our conclusion still holds true.

05-11-2009, 20:48:03

WelshD1K
amd has a slight advantage fo a faster clock speed. would be interesting to see how it waould fair vs a 920 @ 3.4 ..

i will argue that speed - speed amd seem to be down on the fps etc might be the lower fsb and high multi throttling the cards? , just a thought as my old e6600 did better fps than my amd 6000x2

with identical everything - mobo ...

05-11-2009, 23:48:13

FragTek
Nice shoot out! Makes me not feel so bad about going back to AMD, haha.
Reply
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