Which CPU is best for Half Life 2? In a new article from Xbitlabs, results are obtained for 29 different chips, the results of which are ranked in order for you to see. Rather surprisingly, the Pentium 4 530J 2.8GHz is the bottom of the pile, scoring only a meager 65.28. The Athlon 64 FX-55, on the other hand, scores an earth shattering 98.26 and is the clear winner for this game. What is more, the conclusion of the article leads to the notion that performance in HL2 is strongly CPU influenced: in high screen resolutions with enabled FSAA and anisotropic filtering, a powerful graphics card was not enough and a powerful CPU was also required. The article should help you choose that CPU if you are considering an upgrade to a PC which can play HL2 well.
"All in all, there is nothing surprising about Half-Life 2 being so dependent on the CPU speed. Since the game developers decided to pay special attention to the physical picture of the world and the artificial intelligence of the characters created in this game, it appeared simply impossible to do it without loading the CPU pretty heavily. As a result, Half-Life 2 game turns out to be a really efficient and illustrative processor benchmark, being very similar to real-time physical modelling tasks with simultaneous visualization of the calculation results."