3DMark is a popular synthetic gaming benchmark used by many gamers and overclockers to gauge the performance of their PC's. All 3DMark runs were performed a total of 5 times, with the highest and lowest results being removed and an average calculated from the remaining 3 results.
Starting off with a run of 3DMark06 at its stock 1280x1024 / 0xAA settings, both the QX9650 and the Core i7 leave the Q6600 for dead, with the Core i7 almost managing to crack 20,000. Performing a second run at 1920x1200 / 4xAA, the weight is shifted more over to the performance of the GPU than the rest of the system, but still the Core i7 setup manages an 855 point improvement over the QX9650 mostly thanks to the dedicated CPU tests.
Similar results can also be seen in 3DMark Vantage, with the Core i7 obtaining an impressive 2,200 point lead over the QX9650 when run in the default 'Performance' mode. With the graphics and resolution bumped up in 'Extreme' mode, the performance difference is less prominent with only a ~400 point difference between the i7 and the QX9650, showing that the HD 4870x2 GPU is actually becoming the bottleneck here.
Call of Duty 4 is a stunning DirectX 9.0c based game that really looks awesome and has a very full feature set. With lots of advanced lighting, smoke and water effects, the game has excellent explosions along with fast gameplay. Using the in-built Call Of Duty features, a 10-minute long game play demo was recorded and replayed on each of the systems using the /timedemo command a total of 5 times. The highest and lowest FPS results were then removed, with an average being calculated from the remaining 3 results.
The results from the first "real world" benchmark provide some very interesting results. Firstly, the Q6600 is a HUGE bottleneck in the HD4870x2-based system, managing to only pump out 88FPS at both 1280x1024 and 1920x1200 resolutions. However, the i7 is really what we're here to talk about, and as we can see from above, the i7 and QX6850 are neck-and-neck at 1900x1200 / 4xAA, indicating that the HD4870x2 has actually become the bottleneck and higher performance can only be obtained by adding a second graphics card.