Here we have our real gaming tests. Each of the games we chose use multiple cores and GPUs. They are able to stress the system through use of good AI. Both have decent positional audio that adds impact to the sound subsystem of the board. We ran each game through the level or parts listed and recorded frames per second using FRAPS. This brings the whole game into play.
*** A word on gaming as a motherboard test ***
Despite the fact that most games are very GPU limited, we are still noticing HDD and even audio creating issues in gaming performance. Because of this you may see differences in the number of frames rendered per second between different boards. Usually the difference is very small, but occasionally because of bad tracing, poor memory or HDD performance, this difference is significant. The issues are often more prevalent in older versions of DirectX, but can still pop up in DX10 and 11.
Anyone remember Spore from EA? It was one of the most pirated games of 2008. It achieved this status because of a now infamous DRM scheme that locked out paying consumers from playing the game after 2-3 installs of the software. The problem was that many consumers got locked out on the first run. But all that aside, the game was a very fun one that put you into a burgeoning world as a new creature. You had to find food to grow and survive. At stages in the game you were able to evolve into a more capable creature after acquiring more DNA and finding new "features".
When NVIDIA launched the ION they claimed that it had much better gaming performance than the Intel based solution. The evidence of this is right here. We see average frame rates that are 8 FPS higher than the HD GMA. In fact, it made Spore almost playable; granted it still looked terrible without all of the extra textures and eye candy, but you would be able to play it without stuttering and lags.
Portal is a game based on Valve's Game Engine and also set in another part of the same world occupied by Gordon Freeman and Black Mesa. In this game you play a test subject that has been awoken from a sleep chamber to run a series of tests. During this you are shepherded by GLaDOS (Genetic Life Disk Operating System). It does not take long for you to realize that GLaDOS might not be your friend and that things have gone horribly wrong for Aperture Science Labs (a competitor for Black Mesa).
Portal was playable at 22-24 FPS with only a few lags during play (most notably when you open up a new portal). This was even with 2x MSAA enabled. Turning this off will net you another 6-8 FPS in the long run, which it more than enough to game. The 1280x800 resolution was good and covers many of the existing 17-inch monitors available.
Although still not a real gaming system, the ION based AT3IONT-I Deluxe can play some simple games at lower resolution. This could make it good for playing older games or for online gaming (Shockwave and Flash games). If you want more out of it you will need to pick up a low end discrete GPU.
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