Benchmarks: Gaming (High Quality)

Our gaming tests were performed using a single GeForce GTX 280 graphics card which is almost maxed out at 100% of its capacity when coupled with the Core 2 Quad Q9650 or Core 2 Duo E8600 and running the latest games at 1920x1200 and best visual in-game settings.

With this in mind, we are not expecting the Core i7 processors to perform any miracles here but display the more substantial gains CPU vs. CPU in our low-quality gaming settings tests (see next page) where the GPU doesn't present itself as the performance bottleneck.

It is impressive to note that when we first tested the Core 2 Duo E6700 in games a little over 2 years ago it blew everything else out of the water. Now in a high-end processor line-up the E6700 looks dated and underpowered. The Phenom X4 9950 delivered 12% more performance in Unreal Tournament 3 than the E6700, and the newer Core 2 Duo E8600 superseded the Phenom X4 9950 by some 6%.

The Core 2 Quad Q9650 managed to edge out the Core i7 920 and Core i7 940 processors in this test though just marginally. The Core i7 965 EE remained on top averaging 151fps, which was still just 4% faster than the Q9650. Overclocking allowed for a little more performance for a mere 3fps gain.

It appears that the GeForce GTX 280 had run out of legs in F.E.A.R Perseus Mandate at 1920x1200 using its maximum visual settings. Interestingly, the Core 2 Duo E8600 produced the best result here, beating the Core i7 965 EE by a single frame per second, and the slowest processor by just 3fps.

The Core i7 processors provide a slight performance advantage in Crysis Warhead as the Core i7 940 and Core i7 965 EE processors reached an average of 39fps.

Despite the GeForce GTX 280 being somewhat of a bottleneck in the previous games, it would seem that Far Cry 2 is in need of some more processing performance. Although the Core i7 920 was found to be the slowest processor tested, the Core i7 940 was able to match the performance of the Core 2 Duo E8600 and Core 2 Quad Q9650 processors. The Core i7 965 Extreme Edition, on the other hand, raced ahead averaging an impressive 62fps or 13% faster than the Core 2 Quad Q9650.