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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [09.24.08]
Manufactured by: AMD, Intel



I've said it before, and I'll say it again. In terms of gaming performance, the CPU is not nearly as significant as the video card being used. Not even close. In order to get anything more than a marginal performance difference in these tests, we have to crank down the quality to the point where you might as well not be playing the games at all. I mean who will ever want to play Unreal Tournament 3 in 800x600?

And that's what makes these $50 CPUs such a great idea for those willing to overclock them. Rather than drop a bundle on an expensive quad-core CPU, it would be much better to take that extra budget and put it into a better video card. Going down to a $50 CPU should leave a lot left over for a great video card, and with a decent overclock, you will know that it's still not going to choke.

That being said, games are beginning to rely more and more on the processor for things like AI, physics, and game logic, so multithreaded performance is still important. Therefore, we can't just dismiss gaming performance entirely.


Crysis comes with built-in CPU and GPU timedemo benchmarks. The benchmarks are run via a script, similar to those seen in Quake engine games. Rather than being a recorded demo simply played back though, the graphics and physics effects are all done in real-time. This makes Crysis a great benchmarking tool across the board, since the CPU has to calculate all the effects as if you were playing the game. Best of all, it uses portions of the actual game, rather than a 'worst case scenario' custom level. What you see here is what you get when you play this part of the game. The demo is run 4 times (with real-time physics, no two runs will be the same) and the average framerate of the 4 runs are given below.

The game was run in DX9 mode with a resolution of 800x600 and all graphics effects set to Low. The Physics Quality was set to Very High.

Starting out, neither of these processers were capable of running Crysis at a playable framerate at 800x600 even with everything set to "Very Low". However with the overclock, both are able to reach 60 FPS and beyond. Also note the X2's superior performance, thanks in large part to its extra cache.

Unreal Tournament 3

So many games use the Unreal 3 engine, that we had to start using it as a benchmark. There are two methods of benchmarking UT3 - one plays a botmatch in real time, while running in spectator mode. The other simply does a 'flyby' through a level. I would have loved to use the botmatch benchmark to isolate CPU performance, but it was simply impossible to get repeatable results. I was seeing variations of up to 5 FPS from one test to another, so that idea had to be scrapped. Instead, we just ran a flyby demo:

Once again, the X2's performance shines thanks to its extra cache.

HL2 Episode Two

Finally we have the latest Source Engine game - Half Life 2: Episode Two.

Although the overclock helps the Celeron reach playable levels with a 57% framerate increase, the X2 is still looking like a better choice for gamers.

3DMark 06

I don't think this gaming benchmark needs much of an introduction. It's not exactly the best real-world benchmark for CPUs, so we won't spend too much time dwelling on it:

What 3DMark does tell us is that although you can increase a processor's speed by 107%, if the video card remains the same, don't expect too much of a performance gain at higher resolutions and quality levels.

After looking at gaming performance, it is clear that the Celeron's anemic cache is just not enough to make it a viable processor for gaming - even with an awesome overclock.

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