Intel's Core i7 920, 940 & 965 processors

November 3, 2008 | 08:30

Tags: #2 #920 #945 #965 #benchmark #comparison #core #cpu #i7 #mode #nehalem #penryn #performance #phenom #quad #result #review #smt #testing #turbo

Companies: #amd #intel

Far Cry 2

Publisher: Ubisoft

Far Cry 2 is the latest first person shooter from Ubisoft, and while it continues the Far Cry franchise that Crytek started in 2004, this game is built on its own in-house engine and has no association - other than its name - to anything Crytek has worked on or is working on now. We used a retail version of the game and the in-built gameplay demo set to High-Very High settings under DirectX 10.

Far Cry 2

1680x1050 0AA 0AF, Very High Settings

  • Core 2 Extreme QX9770 (4x3.2GHz, 1,600MHz FSB, DDR3)
  • Core 2 Extreme QX9770 (4x3.2GHz, 1,600MHz FSB, DDR2)
  • Core 2 Quad Q9650 (4x3.0GHz, 1,333MHz FSB, DDR3)
  • Core 2 Quad Q9550 (4x2.83GHz, 1,333MHz FSB, DDR3)
  • Core 2 Quad Q9450 (4x2.66GHz, 1,333MHz FSB, DDR3)
  • Core 2 Duo E8500 (2x3.16GHz, 1,333MHz FSB, DDR3)
  • Core 2 Quad Q9650 (4x3.0GHz, 1,333MHz FSB, DDR2)
  • Core 2 Duo E8500 (2x3.16GHz, 1,333MHz FSB, DDR2)
  • Core 2 Quad Q9550 (4x2.83GHz, 1,333MHz FSB, DDR2)
  • Core 2 Quad Q9450 (4x2.66GHz, 1,333MHz FSB, DDR2)
  • Core 2 Quad Q6700 (4x2.66GHz, 1,066MHz FSB, DDR2)
  • Core 2 Quad Q6700 (4x2.66GHz, 1,066MHz FSB, DDR3)
  • AMD Phenom X4 9950 BE (4x2.6GHz, 2.0GHz HTT)
  • Core i7 965 (4x3.2GHz, Turbo disabled, SMT enabled)
  • AMD Phenom X4 9850 BE (4x2.5GHz, 2.0GHz HTT)
  • Core i7 965 (4x3.2GHz, 6.4GHz QPI, SMT disabled)
  • Core i7 965 (4x3.2GHz, 6.4GHz QPI, SMT enabled)
  • AMD Phenom X4 9750 (4x2.4GHz, 1.8GHz HTT)
  • Core i7 965 (4x3.2GHz, Dual Channel, SMT enabled)
  • Core i7 965 (4x3.2GHz, 4.8GHz QPI, SMT enabled)
  • Core i7 940 (4x2.93GHz, 6.4GHz QPI, SMT enabled)
  • Core i7 920 (4x2.66GHz, 6.4GHz QPI, SMT enabled)
  • Core i7 965 (4x3.2GHz, Single Channel, SMT enabled)
    • 66.5
    • 66.3
    • 65.3
    • 65.2
    • 64.5
    • 64.2
    • 62.4
    • 60.4
    • 60.1
    • 59.4
    • 59.3
    • 58.4
    • 58.3
    • 55.6
    • 55.6
    • 55.5
    • 55.4
    • 55.2
    • 54.3
    • 53.1
    • 52.5
    • 52.4
    • 51.6
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
Frames Per Second - higher is better
  • FPS

Our Far Cry 2 numbers offer surprising results to say the least. We checked and double checked these numbers and even upgraded to using the latest Nvidia 180.43 drivers (which are the results shown above) but it made no difference. It seems that the Far Cry 2 engine just doesn't like the Core i7 architecture as much as it likes the previous generation Penryns, as they are a lot faster. Even the significantly cheaper Q6700, E8500 and AMD hardware outperform the Core i7s that all sit at the bottom of the table.

Disabling Intel's Turbo mode and SMT have a marginal impact at best, but the biggest hit is dropping the QPI bandwidth, which will limit traffic between PCI-Express and the CPU that much more. All of the other critical factors, like CPU frequency and memory bandwidth, all cause a performance drop of a few frames per second at a time as we'd expect.

It is only one game out of three, but we wonder how many others treat the Core i7 with its relatively unique architecture in this way.
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