Is This Even Fair? Budget Ivy Bridge Takes On Core 2 Duo And Quad

Results: Borderlands 2

We start with our Tom’s Hardware Borderlands 2 manual run, which takes approximately 105 seconds to complete.

I've never been a fan of charting absolute minimum frame rate figures alone, since those floors may not be apparent during game play. Rather, I'm more concerned with sustained minimums and perceived smoothness (though these don't necessarily guarantee a smooth and enjoyable experience, as we’ve seen from dual-GPU configurations). I see minimums as most useful if they don't drop below a defined level, as opposed to a single dip at one point in time.

Charting frame rates over time in a line chart helps quite a bit in this area. But it also exposes an anomaly in how Fraps measures minimum FPS. For the Celeron G1610, our log shows the lowest second measured 34 FPS, while all other seconds were well above 40 FPS. But because Fraps reports a minimum of 29 FPS, we have to assume that absolute minimums are either calculated based on frame times or measured at far more frequent intervals than once per second.

This isn’t a fluke, it isn’t limited to one processor or platform, and it isn't exclusive to just this story. In fact, if the reported minimums and frame rate over time charts appear to match, then it's probable that the minimum was adjusted to match the frame rate over time log. Usually, we see a difference of one to four frames per second. But occasionally, the delta is even higher. We aren't going to make that adjustment in today's numbers, but keep this in mind as you read through today's analysis, and any other Fraps-based performance reporting moving forward. Bottom line: don't get too hung-up on the minimum FPS bar without first looking over the matching line graphs. Charting both lets you decide which number is more important.

Each processor delivers a nice playable experience at Medium settings. However, a couple of those downward spikes near the beginning of the run corresponded to a brief, yet still noticeable stutter.

The Radeon HD 7970 has no problem handling the highest quality settings in this DirectX 9 title, and CPU scaling remains abundantly clear. Core i5-3570K extracts the most potential from our graphics hardware, but every single one of these processors is at least capable of delivering an acceptable Borderlands 2 experience.

In a game supposedly optimized for four cores, it is interesting that the stock-clocked Core 2 Quad Q9550 only delivers about the same performance as a Celeron G1610. Also note that the Core i3-3225 is punished with a reported minimum of 32 FPS, though its frame rate over time log never drops below 42 FPS. In fact, the single lowest second logged overall for any of these processors was 37 FPS, yet half of them have reported minimums below 34.

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  • david cassar
    Can't wait for the article about the phenom and athlon vs ivy bridge.
  • killerchickens
    I would love to see how a I7 920 compares.
  • Michael Robinson
    What an interesting article. I tend to keep my old PC's and just use them for different things. I have an E8400 which we still use. I was able to do a direct comparison of the performance increase going from a Celeron 2.4Ghz to an i5-3570K. The Celeron processed 5k moves per second in a Java Chess game I wrote. On the i5 it was getting close to 60k moves per second. I could also run 4 of these games at the same time and get a similar performance on each! I was amazed at the performance increase and the i5 isn't even overclocked yet. That's a 50x increase in performance in roughly 6 years which easily beats Moore's Law.
  • -Jackson
    @Michael Robinson: I thought Moore's Law was the doubling of transistors every (roughly) 2 years? Which does not directly translate to doubling of performance. Also, a single test may not be conclusive or reflective of a CPU's performance.
  • -Jackson
    @Michael Robinson: I thought Moore's Law was the doubling of transistors every (roughly) 2 years? Which does not directly translate to doubling of performance. Also, a single test may not be conclusive or reflective of a CPU's performance.
  • eodeo
    I liked the article a lot. Good call on comparing the old and the new. I would have LOVED to see c2q 6600 @ 3.0 in the list.
  • Michael Robinson
    @Jackson re: Moore's Law. Sorry I missed your post. You're correct that the law relates to processor count but this does lead to increased performance. Things like having more cache, more cores per chip, increased bandwidth say from 8bit to 64bit, floating point processors, more powerful instructions, putting more of the motherboard chipset on the CPU or even just controlling thermal load all translate to increased performance.
  • bigirishman
    Good review toms
  • haider95
    Good read. I just bought a e6600 and oddly enough far cry 3 isn't a problem at 720p with 30 fps
  • Artas1984
    I did a Pentium Ivy Bridge review 4 months before this article: